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Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord

Touch Blue
y Cynthia Lord

Publishing Information: Scholastic Press: New York, 2010
ISBN: 978054503516 / 9781449839048 (Audio) / 9781449839055 (Playaway)
: 192 p.
Ages: 9 & Up

To save their small school from closing, the families in Tess's island community take in foster children. She hopes Aaron will like her town and family, but what if he doesn't want to stay?

When the state of Maine threatens to shut down their island's one-room schoolhouse because of dwindling enrollment, eleven-year-old Tess, a strong believer in luck, and her family take in a trumpet-playing foster child, to increase the school's population.

Book Trailer:

Book Talk:
Never whistle on a boat.

A rainbow means change is coming.

It’s bad luck to change a boat’s name.

If you write your wish beneath the stamp on a letter, the letter will carry the wish with it.

Start your journey with your right foot and good luck will walk with you.

Touch Blue and your wish will come true.

"Why take chances?" says eleven-year-old Tess Brooks. "Especially when it's so easy to let the universe know what you want by touching blue or turning around three times or crossing your fingers."

But Tess is coming to know that it's not always that simple.

The state of Maine plans to shut down her island's schoolhouse, which would force Tess's family to move to the mainland—and Tess to leave the only home she has ever known. Fortunately, the islanders have a plan too: increase the numbers of students by having several families take in foster children. So now Tess and her family are taking a chance on Aaron, a thirteen-year-old trumpet player who has been bounced from home to home. And Tess needs a plan of her own—and all the luck she can muster. Will Tess's wish come true or will her luck run out?

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Foster Care
Island Life

Awards & Reviews:
Adoptive Families Editor's Pick, 2010
Book Page
Best Children's Books, 2010
Christian Science Monitor
Best Books For Children, 2010
Independent Booksellers' Kids' Indie Next List (Top Ten), 2010
New England Children’s Booksellers Advisory Council Top Ten Children's Book, Fall 2010

Booklist, August 1, 2010
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September 1, 2010
Christian Science Monitor
, July 30, 2010
Horn Book
, November 1, 2010 (Starred Review)
Kirkus Reviews
, July 1, 2010
Publishers Weekly, August 9, 2010
School Library Journal, September 1, 2010

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. How would you feel about having a foster sibling?
  2. What do you think of Tess’ island? Would you like to live there? Visit there?
  3. Do you think the story is realistic?
  4. Is Tess similar to your friends? Would she make a good friend?
  5. Why did Tess let the lobster go and give up her good luck charms?
  6. Did Tess do the right thing when she contacted Aaron’s mom?
  7. Was Tess wrong to keep some secrets from her family?
  8. Should Aaron have been punished for how he reacted to Eben’s teasing?
  9. In the end, does Tess believe in luck or making her own good fortune? In which do you believe?

Related Websites:
Author's Website -
Adoption Rhode Island:
Cynthia Lord’s blog about visiting Frenchboro Island School to talk about her book -
Frenchboro, Maine (the real town that adopted to save their school) -
Index of Superstitions and Old Wives’ Tales -
The Lobster Institute Kids’ Page -

Touch Blue Teachers Guide -

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Other Books by the Author:
Rules, 2006
Hot Rod Hamster!, 2010
Happy Birthday, Hamster, 2011

About the Author:
Cynthia Lord was inspired to write this book by her own experience as a Maine island school teacher, and by a community of islanders also off the coast of Maine that once took in foster children in order to keep their school open.

Lord’s debut novel, Rules, was awarded and the Schneider Family Book Award, among its many distinctions. Touch Blue is her second novel. Lord lives on the mainland in Maine with her family. Visit her at

| ©2004 - Rhode Island Teen Book Award Committee | Aaron Coutu, Chair