Reviews for Reaching for Sun

Booklist Reviews 2007 January #1
As if seventh grade weren't enough of a challenge for anyone, Josie also struggles with cerebral palsy, social isolation, a mom she needs more time and support from, and monster bulldozers that are carving up the countryside to build huge homes around her family's old farmhouse. Enter new neighbor Jordan, a sensitive kid whose geeky, science-loving ways bring a fun spirit of discovery into Josie's days. He melds with her and her family, especially the warm and wise Gram, and the friends create a kind of magic as they conduct all kinds of plant and pond experiments. Further challenges face Josie when Gram becomes ill and Jordan goes off to camp. Then, risking her mom's wrath, Josie secretly ditches her hated therapy sessions; when mother and daughter eventually reconcile, Josie emerges from her rough patch in a believable and transforming way. Written in verse, this quick-reading, appealing story will capture readers' hearts with its winsome heroine and affecting situations. ((Reviewed January 1 & 15, 2007)) Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Fall
Garden imagery wends its way through this eloquent free-verse novel about a seventh-grade girl with cerebral palsy. No one at Josie's school bothers to see beyond her disability until science nerd Jordan moves into her neighborhood. While the portrayal of friendship between misfits is nothing new, Zimmer infuses Josie's story with distinctive auxiliary characters, such as Josie's resilient grandmother. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2007 #2
Garden imagery wends its way through this eloquent free verse novel about a seventh-grade girl with cerebral palsy. Josie compares the sound of her voice to how ugly poppies look-"hairy, grayish, saw-toothed foliage"-before they bloom. The regal blossoms that finally emerge are a "prize for patience," and, similarly, she vows that "if I take all that trouble / to say something, / I promise / to try / to make it worth / the wait, too." But no one at her school bothers to see beyond her disability until a boy named Jordan, a guileless, hyperintelligent science nerd, moves into her neighborhood and marvels at her plant knowledge. While the portrayal of friendship between misfits is nothing new, Zimmer infuses Josie's story with distinctive auxiliary characters, such as Josie's resilient grandmother, who made the difficult decision to sell off most of her family farm in order to pay her daughter's college tuition and granddaughter's medical bills. Josie, her mother, and her grandmother live together on the small patch of land left, surrounded by housing developments, but maintaining a kind of oasis where, whatever hardships arise, they can still tend to their garden and to each other. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2007 January #2
Josie's cerebral palsy has made her an outsider at school, but at home she is one of three strong women with a rewarding routine. Her mother is working hard to become a landscape designer, leaving Gran to keep the home and garden blossoming. Events unfold in one free-verse poem after another with titles that hint at the narrative but usually work equally well at capturing one distinctive moment in time. Readers gradually learn about Josie and a new-found friend, Jordan, who sees a whole person, not just a disability. Gran becomes ill, Jordan tries out hanging with the in-crowd and Mom has to adjust to new realities. Josie's strength shines as she handles sadness and loss as well as recovery and progress. Readers living with a disability or trying to understand others seem like the target audience, but Josie's voice has a universal appeal. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2007 March

Gr 7 Up-- Josie, a girl with cerebral palsy, lives on the shrinking farmland owned by her family for generations and now being sold to developers. Her mother works and attends college and her grandmother tends her diminished patch of land. The story is told in the seventh-grader's voice in a series of free-verse poems. She is a bright and wry narrator, acutely aware of her limitations and her strengths. When Jordan, wealthy but neglected by his widowed father, moves into a mansion behind her farmhouse, they discover a common love of nature and science, and Josie finally has a real friend. She and her grandmother are both passionate about plants and gardening, and Zimmer does a nice job integrating botanical images throughout the novel. Josie feels like a "dandelion in a purple petunia patch" and thinks, "I must be a real disappointment--/stunted foliage,/no yield." Through growing maturity and Granny's wisdom, she gains confidence in herself. Reaching for Sun will have wide appeal for readers of diverse ability. Reluctant readers will be attracted to the seeming simplicity of the text, with short chapters and lots of white space on the page. They may not even realize that they are reading poetry. More sophisticated readers will find added enjoyment as they begin to appreciate the poetic structure and imagery. Readers of all levels will enjoy spending time with Josie and may gain an increased awareness of what it's like to live with a disability.--Nancy Brown, Fox Lane High School, Bedford, NY

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