When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead
***Note - Read this book aloud with my seven year old son***
Miranda is a pretty typical middle schooler growing up in NYC. She is being raised by her single mom, and as was fairly common in the 80s she often returned home to an empty house. Her best friend Sal lives downstairs with his mom and the two of them do everything together. They walk to and from school together, they eat lunch together, the hang out together. They spend so much time that neither of them has time for any one else in their life. But this year things are about to change. A homeless man with more than a few screws loose takes up residence on her street corner, the spare key goes missing, Sal stops talking to her, and then mysterious notes start appearing. These notes contain strange predictions of future events and a dire warning not to share them with anyone. Miranda is confused and a little freaked out but she does as the notes say. What she wants to know is how they got there, who wrote them, and why her?
This a pretty simple mystery, perfect for reading with a younger child. It does deal with some difficult situations, such as death, but it is also the perfect launch-pad for discussing these issues with your child if it's not something they've yet experienced. My son and I enjoyed reading this aloud together and he couldn't wait to figure out the mystery.