Lois Lowry (2006)
I know, I know -- so I have a little crush on Ms. Lowry. It's not like I'm hoping her next Newbery winner is titled "TeacherDad" or includes a special dedication to her #1 fan...
I think one of her talents is making the reader feel a part of the story right away; within the first few pages I feel as if I'm in the room with her characters, actually turning my head to hear one speak. Gossamer is about dream-fairies, and I found myself being quiet, holding still and listening carefully as I read of them sneaking into a house at night while people slept. When her characters are concerned or hurt, or in danger, I'm not only apprehensive because it's a good story, I'm emotionally invested, I care for them...
Lowry also uses very precise language, both as a plot device and as an art form; her characters are often named for their job or personality, or become "named" as a rite of passage. Especially in Gossamer her characters discuss the proper word for a situation or an emotion, making sure it expresses the correct tone and conveys the correct meaning to those hearing the word used. Perfect for vocabulary lessons!
This book is also about a boy from a broken home, abused by his father, shuttled around foster homes while his mom puts her life back together. He's taken in by a retired teacher and her dog, and we see how their memories and dreams help them to cope with life.
connections: divorce, foster care, Dear Mr. Henshaw