WELCOME TO ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!
A small town in Ohio has its share of problems. Factories are closing down putting more people out of work. Even the town’s sign, Welcome to Cliff’s Donnelly, has worn away, leaving just six letters visible: If Only.
Three sixth graders, Ryan, Ernest, and Lizzy latch onto the folklore of Thompkins Well, where legend claims if you throw in a coin and make a wish, it might come true. Ernest is the only real believer and when a new boy’s wish comes true the others aren’t sure what’s going on.
Each of the twenty-four chapters are broken up into numerous sub-sections focusing on a certain character’s Point of View. The chapters are titled along with these separate scenes. I almost needed a scorecard to keep up with all the faces introduced. In the first 70 pages I counted nine more characters in addition to the aforementioned three main ones. And many more are added the rest of the way.
It all makes for quite the intricate plot (I was even flipping back the pages to re-read and lift some of my confusion). The story though would fit well in the classroom with character maps and discussions of how small kindnesses can reap huge benefits. The world today could use a drop of hope and our youth are the perfect ones to bring forth the message.
PUBLISHED: 2019 PAGE COUNT: 320
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT—
- Many themes effecting middle graders are presented in an appealing and understandable way. Socio-economic status, friendship, and growing older were a few of my favorites.
- Ryan, Lizzie, and Ernest reminded me of kids I know. That’s a testament to the author’s writing and nailing down the authenticity of these three in expert fashion.
- You knew all the side stories would eventually come together as one. It was a satisfying conclusion when it happened.
- Different for sure, and a story good readers will find to be a welcome change.
- I was hoping the author had another middle grade book on the radar and he does. Connect the Dots is due out next year.
And that scared him. Not because Ryan was against people catching a break for a change. But he was of the life philosophy that the light at the end of the tunnel was usually an oncoming train. For Ryan, the other shoe never just dropped. The universe usually threw it at you.
THE OFFICIAL PLOT
Times are tough. Jobs are scarce and miracles are in short supply. But something strange is happening in If Only, Ohio. An old well has suddenly, impossibly, begun to grant wishes. And three sixth graders are the only ones who know why.
Ernest Wilmette believes a good deed makes magic happen. Ryan Hardy thinks they should just mind their own business. Lizzy MacComber believes in facts, not fairy tales. Of course, you don’t have to believe in wishes to make one.
As more wishes are made, the well’s true secret gets harder and harder to keep. Ernest, Ryan, and Lizzy know they can’t fix the world. But in their own little corner of it, they can give everyone a little hope… one wish at a time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Keith Calabrese is the author of the middle-grade novel, A Drop of Hope, as well as the picture book, Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous. A former script reader, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife, kids, and a dog who thinks he’s a mountain goat.
(For more visit Keith’s Web Page)
If you have time, please comment below. I enjoy reading them all!