Along Came Spider by James Preller (not to be confused with Along Came A Spider) and The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron are both great books for intermediate readers. I’m guessing this might be the first post that compares and sees similarities between the two titles, but it so happened that I was listening to Lucky and reading Spider at the same time, so I couldn’t really overlook the similarities even if I wanted.
Along Came Spider is the story of two fifth grade boys who have been both neighbors and friends for a long time. Now that it is fifth grade, Trey faces a great deal of peer pressure to ditch his friend Spider who the other students find “weird”. It never comes out and says that Spider has Aspberger’s or is on the autism spectrum, but from years of classroom experience working with students with both, it seemed to me that Spider would fall somewhere on that spectrum.
I found the books to be a quick and pleasant read that would appeal to many different students. I think the fifth grade teachers are going to really enjoy sharing this boo. Having this book as a shared reading experience will open windows to conversations about peer pressure and differences. I wish that the book had been around those first couple years I had a student similar to Spider, and struggled to find words to help nine year-olds accept/understand the differences in some of their classmates. Having a character in a book that can be discussed can really open conversation in an amazing way!
Even though the characters are fifth graders, I think the content and readability will appeal to a wide range of intermediate readers, both as a read-aloud and as an independent reading book. I’m adding Six Innings to my read list since I enjoyed this James Preller so much.
I also enjoyed The Higher Power of Lucky. Lucky who also struggles with acceptance is on a quest to find her own “higher power”. Too many overheard 12 step meetings have led her to the decision that she needs to find hers. Lucky has two “friends”. One who makes knots nonstop (a little overfocused like Spider, but maybe that implies OCD) and one who lives with his grandmother and is overfocused on the book Are You My Mother?
I find it interesting that three Newbery titles easily come to mind that deal with foster children. I wonder if there are others I don’t know about. I wonder how the percentage of Newbery/Newbery honor books about foster children compare to the percentage of books about foster children?
The little section that mentions a dog’s scrotum is not really worth all the fuss it’s gotten. It’s certainly not a good reason to ban a book-it is a real body part for goodness sakes. If I was reading it aloud, I would have probably just changed a few words if I was worried.
This is a great book and I think Lucky is a character that many intermediate readers can relate to. Add these two to your library. 🙂