Middle school students have reading interests that run the gamut from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Twilight. Sometimes as a parent it is hard to know what is age appropriate for your child. Through this blog, I will try to help parents make informed decisions about what is available in our library. I am hoping that this blog will be a resource for our parents, and that we can all work together to make our students life-long readers!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Counting Thyme

Counting Thyme
by Melanie Conklin
From the publisher:
"When eleven-year-old Thyme Owens’ little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. The island of Manhattan doesn’t exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace the change for what it is: temporary.

After Val’s treatment shows real promise and Mr. Owens accepts a full-time position in the city, Thyme has to face the frightening possibility that the move to New York is permanent. Thyme loves her brother, and knows the trial could save his life—she’d give anything for him to be well—but she still wants to go home, although the guilt of not wanting to stay is agonizing. She finds herself even more mixed up when her heart feels the tug of new friends, a first crush, and even a crotchety neighbor and his sweet whistling bird. All Thyme can do is count the minutes, the hours, and days, and hope time can bring both a miracle for Val and a way back home."

Things I liked: 
* This book has an unusual premise with the main character (whose name is Thyme), earning alone time from her parents by doing things around the house to help. She is saving up her time slips in a jar she calls her Thyme Jar in the hopes that she will one day earn enough to be able to go home to San Diego to see her Grandma and best friend. Their family has been uprooted from San Diego to Manhattan in order for her little brother to be a part of a clinical trial for children with neuroblastoma.
* The family in this book is not perfect, and the parents, in trying to protect their children, keep a lot of secrets from them. However, they are loving and supportive parents who are just trying to keep their heads above water while dealing with their son's horrible disease. I love Thyme's parents!
* I LOVE Manhattan, so I really enjoyed all of the descriptions of life in the city. 
* The portrayal of friendship in this book is very strong and real. Friends have fights, but they get over it. And it's okay to make new friends when you leave your old ones behind. 
* The secondary characters are very well drawn. How can you not totally picture Mr. Lipinsky in his purple robe with Sylvie on his shoulder? How can you not love Mrs. Ravelli? Celia and Delia in their matching outfits? And on and on. 
* Val! Oh how I loved that little guy! He was so strong and loving while going through something no child should ever have to go through. 

Things I wasn't too fond of: 
* I hate reading about kids with cancer! Just like holocaust books, I can't take the feelings of hopelessness and depression. I will have to say, though, that this book and Jordan Sonnenblick's Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie treat childhood cancer with gentle hands. While understanding the dark, dark cloud of cancer that is always hanging over our characters, this isn't a sob fest out to gratuitously make you feel miserable. It is a story of lives that are going on while dealing with the unthinkable.
* I wasn't too happy with the ending. I like closure in my books and this one left too much unresolved. 

Areas of concern:
* The stress and strain on a family dealing with childhood cancer.
* The older sister exhibits some rebellious behavior (nothing very bad at all), and she gets suspended from school.

Suggested Ages:
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 10+
School Library Journal - Grades 4-7

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