Monday, November 9, 2009

Invisible Lines by Mary Amato

Release Date: November 24, 2009 from EgmontUSA


For Trevor Musgrove, life isn't always bright and cheerful. His family has just moved to Hedley Gardens, a tough housing project its residents call "Deadly Gardens." He goes to school with rich kids who have everything, while he has to work just to afford soccer cleats. It doesn't help that the best athlete in school, Xander Pierce, happens to have it out for him. Mistakenly enrolled in an advanced science class taught by an odd but engaging teacher, Trevor is thrown headfirst into the world of natural science. Through all this, he will learn that life can spring up in the darkest places--maybe even Deadly Gardens.

This was a great read. It's aimed more towards a middle grade audience, but I've been getting more and more into MG fiction lately, probably because of my job. I'm trying to constantly find new books that would appeal to my 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. They can be a tough audience and so many books don't really speak to their lives. Coming from a less affluent urban district, I think I have a lot of students who could relate to Trevor's plight.

First of all, he's the new kid in school. Secondly, he comes from the proverbial "wrong side of the tracks." Instead of living in the ritzy part of town where most of his classmates reside, Trevor lives in the housing project lovingly dubbed "Deadly Gardens." Poverty is Trevor's existence and at the Gardens he witnesses first hand some fellow students dealing with things even worse than wondering where your next meal will come from.

When Trevor is mistakenly put into Mr. Ferguson's accelerated science program, he finally feels like he belongs somewhere, while secretly hoping that no one finds out that he doesn't officially belong. Mr. Ferguson is obsessed with mushrooms and his love of fungus spreads to his students, especially to Trevor. I love the image of, as the above synopsis suggests, "that life can spring up in the darkest places." It's a wonderful idea that something truly special can come out of a very dark place. That's a message that I would love my students to get and a message that they really need.

Mary Amato's previous book, Naked Mole Rat Letters was nominated for Missouri's Mark Twain award. I really hope that this one makes the list next year. It is completely deserving and was a joy to read. Highly recommended.

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