Monday, January 03, 2011

#bookaday SUGAR AND ICE by Kate Messner

I read SUGAR AND ICE by Kate Messner as one of my #bookaday books.  I decided that I loved it so much that it deserved a post of its own.  I was surprised by how much I loved this book--the outdoors, the cold, a maple farm, competitive sports--none of these are in my list of favorite things.  But I think I maybe love them all now.  (Well, okay maybe not the outdoors in the cold...)

SUGAR AND ICE (An Amazon Best Book of the Month) is the story of Claire, a skater from a small town who is chosen to train at Lake Placid. She accepts the scholarship and begins training.  Claire is a good skater and does well but the training means that she has less time to do other things she loves--spending time with family, hanging out with good friends, skating on the pond, working with younger skaters, etc. She also has to learn to deal with the pressure of the training.  Although many of the other skaters become friends of Claire's, she has to learn to deal with the mean girls in the group--the girls who are threatened by her success. In the end, Claire has to decide what it is that she wants and how to fulfill her dream as a skater.

This book would provide for great conversations.  So many kids today have talents and opportunities and many give up some things they love to pursue others. I've taught grades 3-5 for most of my career and it seems that this is the age where kids either become more committed to a passion they have or they become burnt out.  It is an important age for deciding what is important.  Kate Messner understands this well and captures the struggle of a child in this type of situation well.

The characters are great (a requirement for any book I love).  Very believable characters with real gifts and real problems.

I am trying to decide whether Claire's coach belongs on our 100+ Cool Teachers in Children's Literature list.  My gut is that he does. He takes kids with a natural talent and passion and helps them move forward. He is intense and isn't always about the whole person, but there is something about the way he watches and listens and knows where to go next with a skater that makes me think he belongs. He builds a confidence by helping skaters at what they need individually.   I need someone else's opinion first, though!

Love this book and I think it would be a great book club book. It provides so much to talk about when it comes to following dreams, giving up one thing to make time for another, things worth working for, etc. I think kids would naturally find so many issues that they deal with on a daily basis in this book. This is definitely a perfect middle grade book.

This is the second book I have read by Kate Messner (Marty McGuire was the first) and I am anxious to read more.  I have THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. on my TBR stack and am also anxious to read her upcoming professional book on revision being published by Stenhouse.    And she is a middle school language arts teacher! (Yes, I know, I too am wondering how she does it all...)I so love when I discover a new author I love who has lots of upcoming books!  Really, what could be better?


  1. This is on my TBR pile. You're going to love her earlier book, too, Franki. She creates a world and a setting of trees, falling leaves, school, difficult family issues, and even with the ordinariness or "unloveableness" of some these elements individually, you just feel that you love and want to be there in her world. It's the writing.

  2. LOVED Gianna Z. and am looking forward to this one.


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