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"When You Reach Me" Book Project

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Ryan Hawkins

on 3 January 2014

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Transcript of "When You Reach Me" Book Project

Element of Fiction Section
The main character’s name is Miranda. She is a 6th grade girl who quite enjoys reading. However, the only book she truly likes to read is “A Wrinkle in Time”. Miranda lives with her single mother, who is doing her best to provide for the two of them. Her mother has a boyfriend named Richard. Miranda’s father, and his absence, is never mentioned in the book.

Miranda is not too worried about her social status at the beginning of the book. But when her best friend Sal takes some “time off” from being her best friend, she makes some new friends. Because she makes these new friends, she starts worrying about what they will think about her. She worries the most about what her friend Annemarie will think of her.

Miranda has flat, brown hair, unlike her mother who has curly red hair. She is jealous of her mother’s hair. Miranda’s upset because she feels like she’s named after a kidnapper, Mr. Miranda. Her mother says that her name stands for civil rights.

In the beginning of the book, Miranda only has one friend, named Sal. Sal is a boy, and they have been best friends almost their entire lives. They only hang out with each other, and no one else. For an unknown reason, Sal stops hanging out with Miranda. They stop walking to school together, they stop doing anything together. Sal gives no explanation at the time, but the readers discover the reason at the end of the book.

My Opinion Section
In my opinion, this book does not deserve a Newbery Award. While the book had an interesting plot and a twist at the end, it was too confusing during the rest of the book to follow very well. The plot obviously needs to include some mystery, but I feel like the author could’ve made the book less confusing. The idea of time-travel, while intriguing, was not good enough, nor told well enough to keep my attention while I was reading this book. In some books, characters are developed very well, and you feel attached to them. In this book, however, the characters were not developed well enough for me to develop any kind of lasting attachment to them. Next, the setting was very hard for me to follow. The setting was better developed than the characters, but was still quite confusing. The book didn’t obviously state the city where the story took place. The time period was more obvious, because it was stated more often. This book did not carry a very important message. This made the book less interesting, and made it hard for me to stay focused on it while I was reading. Both Julia and Marcus’s explanations of time travel were hard to follow and difficult to understand. I wanted to understand how the time traveling in the book worked, or at least some kind of cliffhanger that left me thinking about it. Instead there was an explanation guessed at by two sixth-graders that made no sense.
Time Period Section
The time period in which the novel “When You Reach Me” is written is in 1978 through 1979. During this time period, the nation was still dealing with the transition from the legal racism of the past, which had changed with the Civil Rights Act which had occurred just a few years earlier. In the book “When You Reach Me” there is a scene where the reader sees a man behaving like a racist. The racist man (Jimmy) had a Freddy Flintstone bank stolen from him and he believes it was the black character in the book (Julia). Julia however doesn’t need any money because he family is extremely wealthy, making his conclusion very unlikely. Despite this, Jimmy still believes that Julia did it. The children defend Julia, but Jimmy still believes Julia did it. This is a perfect example of the state that the country was in during the late 1970’s. The generation that had gone through the civil rights era still had some racist people in it. The new generation was generally not racist, so they would have to deal with the old generations racism. This made things difficult for young people at the time, because societies views were changing, but some of the older generations views were not. Also, some of the children of the era were less educated then others on the topic of racism. An example is Miranda. She is only beginning to understand that Jimmy is racist, while Annemarie has already figured it out and is standing up for her friend.
Entertainment Section
In the book “When You Reach Me”, Miranda’s mother trains to go to a game show called, “The $20,000 Pyramid. During the entire book, she is training to go onto the game show, and eventually makes it on the show. In fact, when she goes to the game show she even manages to win some money for her family.
The $20,000 Pyramid was a fun and entertaining side-story and added in a few more elements of conflict and resolution to the story. For example, Miranda’s family was very poor in the beginning of the book. This is one of the conflicts that the game show, “The $20,000 Pyramid” helps to resolve.
Her mother wins money on the game show, and is going to use it to go to law school. An interesting side note is that the author of this book, Rebecca Stead, was actually a lawyer before she became a writer. Miranda’s mother is very involved in the legal system.
Another entertaining character is Marcus. He poses lots of interesting questions that make you think. He tells Miranda that common sense is just a way of thinking, and that it often gets in the way of the truth. I believe he is entirely right about this. While common sense can be helpful it often gets in the way. For example, scientists believed the earth was flat and that it ended. This was the only thing that made sense to them. How could the earth be any other shape, and people not stand upside down? However, they were entirely wrong about it. The earth was round, not flat. Their common sense prevented them from finding out the truth.
These entertaining elements of the book, along with others, make the book, ”When You Reach Me” award winning.
Author Section
Rebecca Stead wrote books for adults at first. One day, her four-year-old son knocked her laptop off the kitchen counter and all of her stories for adults were lost. This was probably really hard for her to not let it totally drag her down and stop her from writing. . But instead, she went on to write two books, “First Light”, and “When You Reach Me”, the second of which won a Newbery Medal.
Another reason the author’s life likely helped her win a Newbery is because her book included many elements of her real life. Miranda grew up in New York, just like Rebecca Stead. In fact, Miranda was in sixth grade in 1978 through 79’ just like Rebecca Stead. Both Miranda and Rebecca enjoyed reading quite a bit, and apparently did it a lot as well. Because Mrs. Stead grew up in that time period, she was able to capture exactly what it was like back then. While research can help you partially do that, it definitely helps if you were actually there. Another part of the book that includes an element of Rebecca’s real life is Miranda’s mother. Her mother is a paralegal (a legal assistant), and at the end of the book is going to go to law school. Rebecca Stead’s career before becoming a writer was that of a lawyer. While she was a lawyer, Stead did do some writing, but only for adults, and not very much.
Personally, I believe that “When You Reach Me” won the Newbery Award because of how it was written, and what was in the writing, not because of the person who wrote it, or what they did. But hey, I wasn’t the one to give the Newbery Award to the book. Whatever the reasons the Newbery committee had, I’m sure they were good ones.
"When You Reach Me" By Rebecca Stead
Book Project
By: Ryan Hawkins
Period 6

Theme Section
One of the themes of this book is society and class. There has been controversy and discussion about how too many Newbery books are written by white authors and feature only white protagonists. “When You Reach Me” touched on these issues by having a black character and by also including a racist character.
Another theme in “When You Reach Me” is time travel. There had been some question about whether the Newberry Award was still relevant or useful. Some people had the opinion that Newbery books were too literary and hard to read for children. Some teachers said they hadn’t bought Newbery books in years because their students wanted to read fun books, and the Newbery books were no longer enjoyable. Time travel is a fun theme which made “When You Reach Me” a justifiable choice for the Newbery Award.
The third theme I am going to talk about is the theme of friendship in this book, “When You Reach Me.” Miranda goes through a difficult time with one of her friends named Sal. Sal stops hanging out with her and just generally ignores her. Another character experiences this as well. Annemarie and her friend Julia begin to grow apart, just like Miranda and Sal. This forces both Annemarie and Miranda to seek out new friends. They find each other and become excellent friends. The book does a good job at displaying a theme of friendship. It shows us how friendships can come and go, but can also last forever, even though the friendship might go through some rough times. The author, Rebecca Stead, showcases this theme very well in her book. I think this justifies her book getting the Newbery Award, and could be why the Newbery committee chose this book.
Movie Poster
1."When You Reach Me Theme of Society and Class."Shmoop We Speak Student. Shmoop University, n.d. Web. 29 Dec 2013.

2.Chapman, Lindsay. ""When You Reach Me" Earns Newbery Medal, Affirming the Award's Value."finding Dulcinea Librarian of the Internet. Dulcinea Media, Inc, n.d. Web. 30 Dec 2013.

3.Miller, Erin. "'When You Reach Me' by Rebecca Stead-Book Club Discussion Questions." About Bestsellers. About.com, n.d. Web. 30 Dec 2013.

4.Stead, Rebecca. "Rebecca Stead About." Rebecca Stead Books. N.p.. Web. 30 Dec 2013.

Photo Sources
1.McCulagh, Declan. City street in Soho, a neighborhood of New York known for shopping. 2006. Photograph. Declan McCullough Photography, New York City. Web. 1 Jan 2014.

2.Stoughton, Cecil. President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act into law. 1964. Photograph. Learn NCWeb. 1 Jan 2014.

3.Social Classes. N.d. Infographic. Beacon Learning CenterWeb. 1 Jan 2014.

4.First Edition of A Wrinkle In Time. 2010. Photograph. Raptis Rare BooksWeb. 1 Jan 2014.

5.Miranda Warning. 2014. Photograph. Smith Publicity Inc.Web. 1 Jan 2014.
Movie Poster Sources
1.Fitzpatrick, Frank. Semi Truck. 2010. Photograph. Lets Get ThinkingWeb. 1 Jan 2014.

2.CosmicThunder, . Time Vortex. 2011. Photograph. deviantARTWeb. 1 Jan 2014.

3.Maia Mitchell. 2013. Photograph. IMDbWeb. 2 Jan 2014.
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