Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord

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As soon as I finished Cynthia Lord’s new middle grade novel, Touch Blue, I went straight to that respected source of knowledge – Wikipedia.  I wanted to know if there really are such things as blue lobsters. As it turns out, there are.  1 in 3 or 4 million lobsters are blue, and Wikipedia reports: “A genetic defect causes a blue lobster to produce an excessive amount of protein,” accounting for this rare color.  So, the old adage is right – you do learn something new every day. 

Touch Blue features a blue lobster and lots of other lobstering details which was one of the best parts of Lord’s new novel.  The story centers on eleven-year-old Tess who lives on an island in Maine.  When the future of the island’s school is threated by a shrinking number of students, the community decides to take in foster children to boost their numbers. Tess and her family welcome thirteen-year-old Aaron into their home, but he is isn’t as excited about being there as they are about showing him a place they love.  Aaron has already faced some serious challenges in his life, and it takes him time to warm up to Tess and her family. Although the story is a familiar one, the details make Touch Blue a success.

Lord’s description of the island’s tight knit community is nice; I especially enjoyed the banter between Tess’s dad and his brother, both of whom are lobstermen. It’s a short novel, but the sights and sounds are so vivid, that I felt like I knew this family and their friends by the time the story reached its happy conclusion.

One more thing: When I saw the book I was curious about the Monopoly game pieces on the cover. I wondered how Lord would use them in the story.  Of course, I won’t give it away, but they are a perfect example of the lovely little details that make this book so heart-warming.

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