Monday, October 1, 2012

The Summer of the Swans

This month I read a classic. The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byers was published in 1970 and won the Newbery Medal in 1971. I read this book when I was 14 and was moved by it. In fact, I did my first ever oral report on this book and died a pair of my tennis sneakers puce. To find out why, you’ll have to read the book…

Summer of the Swans is a coming of age mid-grade novel. Sara is 14 and feels awkward and unhappy. Her mother is dead, her older sister is better than her in every way, her father is gone, her brother, Charlie, suffered brain damage as a child, and to top it all off, her sneakers are the wrong color! Sara has more to deal with than most 14 year olds and she knows it. She doesn’t appreciate the home her aunt provides, her needy younger brother, or her sneakers. Sara spends a lot of time complaining and feeling sorry for herself, until one day when Charlie gets lost in the woods. Losing Charlie changes everything for Sara. She realizes the importance of family. She learns that she can be wrong about things and that she’s too harsh on people. In a nutshell, Sara goes from an ugly duckling to a swan.

Summer of the Swans is a beautiful story. I recommend this book to 7th graders.

List of Recommended Books by Grade:

2nd grade –
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Miss Holly Is Too Jolly, by Dan Gutman
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

3rd grade –
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Among the Impostors by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
4th grade –
Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry
Louisiana's Song by Kerry Madden
The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
The Golly Whopper Games by Jody Feldma

5th grade –
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Benjamin Pratt & The Keeper of the School by Andrew Clements
Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
6th grade –
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman
Dewey, by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
The Wanderer by Sharon Creech
The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
7th grade and up –
The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byers
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Pendragon Book One: The Merchant of Death by D.J. MacHale
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The Seventeen Second Miracle, by Jason F. Wright