Thursday, July 8, 2010
Dear Toni, written by Cyndi Sand-Eveland. Tundra, 2008. $16.99 ages 10 and up
'I wonder if you will go to my school in forty years.
Maybe you'll even be in this room and at my desk.
Under the edge of the top I've carved my initials, G.T.,
with the pointy end of my compass. If you end up in
this school, be sure to look under all the desktops and
try to find mine."
Just taking a look at Gene Tucks face on the front cover of this novel starts you wondering about the kind of girl she is...and what she might be thinking. She doesn't seem impressed with whatever it is!
It takes no time at all to discover that she is one of those characters who will find her place on your list of independent, feisty and engaging young girls with a story to tell about family, friends and fitting in at school.
It's a new school, one of a number that Gene has attended. Her father is in search of a job that will last, and the family is constantly uprooted to make that happen. She arrives at Harry Gray Elementary in Grade 6, with hopes it will be better than her fifth grade year. It begins with a writing assignment from Mr McKenzie...a 100 day writing project. Gene can't believe her bad luck! She is supposed to keep a journal, telling someone forty years in the future about herself and her life at this time and place.
It doesn't go well in the beginning. But soon, she is pouring her heart and soul into describing her life to some future reader she calls Toni. It becomes personal when Toni has a name, and thus an identity to Gene. She does wonder who would be interested in her story as boring as it is, but she perseveres with the daily entries and finds a voice that speaks of her struggles in so many new situations, her love for family and her dream of having a dog. In telling her story so personally the reader discovers that Gene is beginning to make a place for herself in this new town.
As she writes she adds doodles which are often humorous and telling. All in all, I think this book would find an audience for its quirky, uncertain character and the whole notion of journalling to share her story.