Saturdays on PWR are like TV Programing in the 50s and 60s from about 6:30 a.m. until the 9:00 morning news–RESERVED FOR KIDS.

This Saturday have I got a book for thoughtful eight to twelve year olds! It is a two-time Newbery Medalist, Katherine Patterson’s novel who is a children’s author on the caliber of Madeline L’Engle. I remember the reactions of my sixth graders as they discovered her Bridge to Tarabithia when I was teaching kids in what seems like another lifetime.

A new girl in a new school, facing a new life, Birdie desperately wants to make friends.

This 2021 novel finds Elizabeth, aka Birdie, making a deal with God that she will “stop acting like a jerk” over her dad’s deployment to Iraq if He will protect and look out for her family, and above all not let her dad come to any harm. She goes to great lengths to keep her end of the bargain, even wearing a “I heart Jesus” T-shirt under her clothing at all times. Her prayers, her attempts to act like Jesus are stymied when she meets an aggressive girl in her new school class, Alicia Marie Suggs, whose insistence of using this name instead of the name the teachers and students referred to her by, and who immediately announces to Birdie that they are going to be best friends. Alicia constantly reminds Birdie of promises that Birdie knows she never made, and puts words in her mouth and ideas in Birdie’s head. Unsupervised and mysteriously alone most of the time, Alicia tells what obviously is not the truth, but Birdie makes excuses for her because she longs for a friend, any friend. Inside Birdie knows something is wrong at Alicia’s house, but she sluffs off any misgivings and suspicions.

All of us have been through a crisis of faith, but usually not at Birdie’s age. Fortunately, she has her wise grandmother, with whom she, her mother, and her baby brother have moved in with, to guide and support her.

This is a thought-provoking tale for modern times which is unusual in that it deals with spiritual beliefs and matters in a down-to-earth way.


Saturday July 9, 2022.

Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 plus years of teaching "under my belt." I have taught all levels from pre-K "(library lady" or "book lady"--volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the "difficult years." I had some of the "funnest" experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the "young, fun teacher," I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a "dream-fit" for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is "in my blood," so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to "come out and play."


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