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Touch Blue

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,285 Ratings  ·  523 Reviews
An exquisite second novel from the Newbery Honor author of RULES! TOUCH BLUE, sure as certain, will touch your heart.

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 havin
Hardcover, 186 pages
Published August 1st 2010 by Scholastic Press
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Newbery 2011
16th out of 136 books — 542 voters
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Mock Newbery 2010/2011
10th out of 87 books — 228 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 27, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok
Tess's island town takes in foster children in order to keep their local school open. I didn't like this book. Her first book, Rules, worked because it had a foundation of authenticity to it that was totally lacking in this one, except for maybe three pages near the end. There are wonderful stories to be written about children in foster care, but they're grittier than this one, and more complicated. Not necessarily sadder, but harder. The present tense seemed forced and the luck theme seemed gim ...more
Barb Middleton
Feb 13, 2012 Barb Middleton rated it it was amazing
Shelves: realistic
“Touch blue and your wish will come true.”

Tess Brooks believes in luck. She stands on the pier waiting for her new foster brother, Aaron, to step off the ferry at Bethsaida island thinking about luck. Luck that Aaron will like her family. Luck that school won’t be closed. But then she spots Aaron and his red hair that shines out of the crowd like a beacon. Her heart sags; everyone knows it’s unlucky to ride a boat with a red-head.

This is the setup for the story where Aaron has to learn to live w
Sep 29, 2010 Kate rated it it was amazing
TOUCH BLUE was one of those books that I read quickly because I loved it so much...and then slowly toward the end, because even though I was desperate to find out how these characters' stories played out, I was so, so sad to leave them behind on the last page. I shouldn't have worried, though - the characters in TOUCH BLUE are the kind that stay with you long after you finish reading.

There's hopeful Tess, who waits on the shore for the ferry boat bringing her father with the new foster kid who's
A very sweet, touching story. It's age-appropriate (9 to 12, I should think), but it truly shows the anguish and loss foster children go through as a regular part of their lives. Tess sounds like a very recognizable, real eleven-year-old girl, and the author integrated the rural island setting very well into the story. The ending was great, too -- it was conclusive and hopeful, not all neatly-wrapped-up-live-happily-ever-after, but more like how real life would be. I think 9-to-12s, particularly ...more
Aaron Twardzik
Mar 29, 2015 Aaron Twardzik rated it it was amazing
The main characters in touch blue are Tess, Libby, and Aaron. Aaron is the foster child that Libby and Tess' family adopted. His mom was told she could not raise him and his grandmother started to take care of him, unfortunately she died a few years after she took him in. So he went to a foster home and lived there until he was 13. The reason he was adopted along with a lot of other foster children was because the mayor of Maine threatened to shut down the island school because there were not en ...more
Colby Sharp
Jul 27, 2011 Colby Sharp rated it it was amazing
When I think of a book that involves a foster family I think Bud, Not Buddy. What I loved about Touch Blue was that it was told not from the point of view of the orphan, but the point of view of a young girl whose family is taking in a foster child. Reading a story from that angle felt fresh and extremely engaging. Throw in a small island town taking in foster children to keep their one-room schoolhouse open and you got yourself an excellent middle grade novel.
Rebecca McNutt
May 07, 2015 Rebecca McNutt rated it it was amazing
Original, creative and eye-opening, Touch Blue shows readers how small towns are gradually falling victim to the 21st century (here in Canada it's Newfoundland and Nova Scotia that are being most affected), but this book has a lot more to offer than that - it's a story of acceptance, of children from broken families and of a brighter future. Vibrantly-written and filled with unforgettable characters, this was an amazing book.
Mar 24, 2014 Jayne rated it it was amazing
Touch Blue and your wish will come true. This is the story of a girl from a small island in Maine. Small enough that the state is planning on shutting down the island's school. So the families on the island get together and make a plan to foster children in order to get the school's numbers up.

Tess (11) and her family foster a 13-year-old boy named Aaron. Aaron has a hard time with island life, and Tess keeps wishing on her lucky objects hoping things will change. When Tess learns she has to mak
Feb 09, 2011 Kristin rated it liked it
Shelves: problem-novels
cute...but better (and funnier) when I read it the first time, when it was called surviving the applewhites ;)
Jul 15, 2010 Tasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
Tess firmly believes in luck and does all sorts of things to try and capture some of it. But wishes and luck are difficult things to grab ahold of as Tess quickly discovers. On her island home, the number of children have fallen below the threshold to have a school. If nothing is done, Tess and her family will have to leave the island and Tess will be unable to become a fisherman the way she wants to. So the islanders decide to take in foster children to both increase the number of children on t ...more
Ali Burns
Sep 13, 2011 Ali Burns rated it it was amazing
I am currently reading the book Touch Blue, and all i can say is WOW! It is a really touching book about a foster child that a girl and her family take in. You can really see the struggles of someone who is a little "different" because his parents couldn't help support him so they thought that he would have a better life as a foster child, which is better than living with a drug addict mom and a drunken dad. Nobody really ever realizes how hard it can be if your not "normal", but what is normal? ...more
Abby Johnson
Jun 09, 2010 Abby Johnson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: blogged
Eleven-year-old Tess knows what she wants. She wants to stay on her tiny island home forever and she wants to be a fisherman when she grows up. She wants this plan to work because she can't even think about moving to the mainland and starting all over. The plan? To save their tiny island school from being shut down, island families have agreed to take in foster children. Which is how Aaron comes to live with them. Tess is hoping that Aaron will be like Anne from Anne of Green Gables - a feisty f ...more
Ellen Brandt
Jun 29, 2012 Ellen Brandt rated it really liked it
11 year old Tess loves living on a small island in Maine with her fisherman father, school teacher mother and little sister - but the state is threatening to close the island's school house due to declining enrollment. Tess' family may have to make some very hard choices soon.
The islanders come up with a plan to increase enrollment by taking in foster children. This too requires some hard choices.
The story really resonated with me; partly because I read it while in Maine, and partly because one
Alyssa F
May 13, 2015 Alyssa F rated it it was amazing
This book has 186 pages. I think the main character Tess is like me because she also has a little sister who sometimes annoys her but still loves her. This book reminds me of another book I read that takes on a foster child and the foster child does not like it there in the start but ends up liking them in the end. I gave this book five stars because its one of the best books i ever read. I think the ending of this book is the best part.
Mar 04, 2013 Jerry rated it it was ok
A Quickie Review

When a Maine island's school is threatened to be shut down by the state's government, the residents of the isle adopt kids in an attempt to save their schoolhouse. Narrated by 11-year-old Tess, the story is as innocent as a Disney Channel Original Movie, and even portrays hymns, a preacher, and Christian faith in a positive light. However, some discussion of "wishing" superstition is odd, given the rest of the book. It's nothing special, but Touch Blue was a mildly enjoyable read
Andree Sanborn
Apr 28, 2011 Andree Sanborn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: april, 2011, dcf, dcf-2011-2012
Touch Blue

I hope this becomes a popular book. I loved it. The sentiments expressed by the narrator, 11 year old Tess Brooks, are important and are expressed well. She wants Aaron, her foster brother, to feel at home with her family in Maine. Tess devises an unusual method of helping Aaron overcome anger and grief. But Tess also grows and learns that there are worse things to lose than your school and home. This is a Vermont DCF Book Award nominee for 2011-2012.
Josianne Fitzgerald
Tess lives on a small island off Maine. The local industries are fishing and tourism. The island's population is declining so the state threatened to close down the one room school. To stave that off, the islanders agree to foster children to bring up their student numbers. Tess's family takes Aaron, a gifted musician caught in the foster system because his mother is an alcoholic. Tess and Aaron struggle to accept their situation, but in the end come to understand that "we're all made up of our ...more
Aug 30, 2015 Tanja rated it really liked it
I recently spoke with my students about reading identity, showing them examples of some of the books I love. I included a realistic fiction novel because I love slipping into someone else's shoes, living their life, so different from mine, for a short while. Touch Blue is such a novel, allowing the reader to spend some time with Tess who lives with her family on a small island off the coats of Maine. Tess is afraid to loose everything she has known so far, the life she treasures on the island, t ...more
Kelly Hager
Jan 19, 2015 Kelly Hager rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love this book.

Tess has a whole list of minor superstitions. She's not OCD or anything; it's not like she can't do something if, say, a black cat crosses her path. But instead, it's more like she knows things will be lucky (or unlucky, as the case may be) if she just follows these very simple rules.

But what's most important, however, is that the small school on her island stays open. Otherwise, her family will have to move, and she loves her home. But in order for it to stay open,
Aug 21, 2014 Linnea rated it liked it
genre: realistic

summary: Tess and her family live on a tiny island of the coast of Maine. There are a handful of other families with children on the island. The children all attend school in a tiny schoolhouse on the island and are taught by Tess's mom. But when a few families move to the mainland, the State of Maine wants to close the schoolhouse. This would mean that Tess's family would have to move to the mainland. Tess would leave her friends, her only home, and the only life she has ever kn
Jul 20, 2014 Kelly rated it really liked it
From School Library Journal 9/1/2010

Gr 4–7—Tess Brooks, 11, believes in luck, wishes, and superstitions. When the state of Maine threatens to close her Bethsaida Island school because there aren't enough students, she and her family will be forced to move to the mainland, and Tess loves her island life. Reverend Beal comes up with an idea to expand the school population, and the Brooks family does its part by taking in a 13-year-old foster child. Tess doesn't give up hope even though Aaron is u
Apr 10, 2015 Ryan rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shelley Sly
Apr 08, 2015 Shelley Sly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy Cynthia Lord's writing and absolutely loved Rules, but Touch Blue fell short of a five-star rating for an important reason (to me, anyway.)

I'm familiar with the foster care system in the U.S., and though this book was mostly accurate (especially compared to other books out there), I think Cynthia Lord hit the reader a little too hard with explanations for WHY things happen in foster care situations. Why Aaron acts the way he does, why his mom may act the way she does, etc.

I wish these t
Jun 04, 2015 S430981 rated it it was amazing
Touch Blue is about Tess a 12 year old girl who relies only on luck. Tess has quite a few tokens of luck that she keeps with her at all times. Tess lives on a small island with only a few other year round families. Her mother is the only school teacher on the island, and her dad is a lobster fisherman. When one family with 4 children move off the island, there are only 6 students attending island school the school is not a legal school. Luckily, the local preacher has a solution...the islanders ...more
This was a surprisingly beautiful little book. Instead of being the simple, heartwarming story of a neglected boy who finds a loving new home on an island in Maine, this was a story about a girl growing up. She learns the difficult (but not too painful) lesson that, "…we'll go on, whatever comes. sometimes you have to stop trying to control everything and let life happen the way it's supposed to, Tess. Even if it's not exactly the way you wanted." (173) I think the power of this story lies in th ...more
Ana Roman
Feb 26, 2016 Ana Roman rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kay Carman
Feb 23, 2016 Kay Carman rated it really liked it
With so many stories of dysfunctional families aimed at tweens and teens, it's refreshing to read a story of an intact family who love and support one another. There's dysfunction in the story, too, but you've got at least one rock-solid family around whom to build the story.

The State of Maine is planning to close the island schoolhouse because of dwindling enrollment, and that would force eleven-year-old Tess and her family to move to the mainland. The islanders come up with a plan to increase
Sep 03, 2012 Kristi rated it it was ok
I never really fell in love with any of the characters in this book. Aaron didn't seem all that believable to me as a 13 year old boy. Tess's family is great, but maybe just a bit too great.

It was an interesting premise, but it didn't pull me around emotionally like I expected after reading the jacket flap...
Heartwarming, sweet, and evocative, TOUCH BLUE is the story of Tess and her family, who live on an island off the coast of Maine and become one of five families to take in a foster child in hopes of keeping their island schoolhouse open. Complex emotions, authentic voice, and characters that leap off the page.
Jun 09, 2014 Shawn rated it it was amazing
I was impressed with this book. An issue that's often left unheard in children's literature: both sides of the story. I love how the author brings about to the conclusion of the story by allowing people to be human. The characters were allowed to be a little bit selfish, allowed to be fragile, and allowed to be giving. Her ending was actually a new beginning. It was a great story of adoption fostering the whole welfare system from a different point of view. In most young adult literature today t ...more
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I'm the author of the children's book, RULES."
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“Stay because you want to be here. Stay because we would miss you. And stay because you can belong in more than one place, and one of your places is with us.” 20 likes
“People say it's better to know the truth, but what if the ending's a bad one? Is it still better to know? Or is it kinder to keep that string of hope dangling? To believe that maybe if you just wait long enough, everything could still end the way you want.” 12 likes
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