Was it worth it? You bet.
I read When You Reach Me in one sitting during yesterday's Bears/Seahawks game (victory...hooray for Kevin!) and I became so absorbed that I completely forgot I was in a crowded bar with football fans cheering all around me. Instead, I was in New York City in the 1970's, contemplating mysterious messages and lost friendship and the physics of Madeline L'Engle's masterpiece, A Wrinkle in Time. When the game was over and Kevin was jumping out of his seat in glee, I had to ask breathlessly for just five more minutes to finish the last few pages. (Okay, we'll leave the discussion of how my husband is gracious enough to watch his Sunday games in a sports bar while his wife reads kidlit novels and eats ice cream in plain view of all the other sports fans whose wives are wearing Patriots jerseys and drinking Shipyard...for another day.)
I won't belabor the point. Gripping. Fun. Mysterious. Real. Worth picking up. Even in hardcover.
Here's what the experts have to say:
The New York Times
Here's an interview with Ms. Stead from Horn Book (where her book recieved that coveted starred review).
Here's the response from Monica Edinger's fourth grade class. Some of my favorite quotes from the student posts:
"When my teacher read this book to us, my mouth dropped open in a perfect O. This will probably happen to anyone who reads this book."Here's an interesting article by Rebecca Stead on how today's tweens have more purchasing power, but less independence than previous generations.
"The beginning may be a little dull but eventually you will be gritting your teeth and and holding on to your pants."
"Well anyway it’s a mysterious book that is good for kid’s that like to have to wait till the end to understand the important things."