For second grader Reuben life is peaceful and happy in Oklahoma where his dad is a dance instructor and his mom a cook at the town cafe. All that changes when the 1933 Dust Bowl hits the town ruining crops and causing people to flee to other states. Reuben's parents lose their jobs and his dad almost loses his life in an oil fire. They decide to leave for Minnesota where Reuben's dad becomes a wingwalker for the circus and his mother cooks. Many of the characters Reuben meets are "different" and find happiness in being accepted by the other circus members.
This book has great details and is a slice of life back in the 30's when times were difficult. The tension comes from Reuben's fear of heights, job loss, danger of oil job, and danger of wingwalking. Reuben expresses and narrates the story from the viewpoint of a kid. At the end Reuben has to face his fears. The author does a nice job connecting the beginning and end so the reader comes full circle in the story. Some readers might find Reuben's narration boring - the voice isn't unique or strong.
My library reading level says 5.6 which I think is too high. Scholastic lists the reading level as 4.2 which is more realistic. The photos and story will appeal to third or fourth graders. It would be a good book to discuss fears, courage, and accepting others who are "different". I will have to try it as a read aloud and see what the students think of it.
Reading Level 4.2
:-) :-) :-) 3.25 out of 5 Smileys