4/29/11 ** Twelve of my 25 fourth graders read the requisite 5 books needed to vote in the Young Hoosiers Book Award Contest; four of them chose this as the best book. After reading it for myself, I have to agree that it's worth an award. The poignancy of moving, the joy of finding friends who share your interests, and the passion of a non-violent protest all contribute to a fast-paced, enjoyable middle-grades chapter book.
Ellie (not Ella or Eleanor!) is new in town. She finds refuge first in the local library in a scene sure to endear the book to the hearts of teachers and librarians. She then struggles with feeling left out in a town where everyone knows everyone else. Ellie shares her struggles through a journal replete with comic-type sketches and narrative commentary that catch the foibles and assets of her new school-mates.
The climax of the book focuses on a student-organized, King-inspired sit-in to protest the long lunch line and short lunch period of the sixth graders at King Elementary.