Gary Schmidt, professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is the author of a number of what I consider compelling and “reach out and grab the reader in” fiction titles for upper elementary/’tween/teen readers. His most recent title, Trouble, is set in Blythbury-by-the-Sea near the Massachusetts/Maine border. Trouble is a story of acceptance, of courage, and of forgiveness. Bravery comes in, too, as the main character, Henry, climbs Mt. Katahdin and reaches its summit, which is a most difficult trek. Henry’s older brother, Franklin, had been killed by a Cambodian refugee in an old pickup truck early in the summer…the summer that Henry and Franklin had planned to make the Mt. Katahdin climb together. As I began to read Schmidt’s latest novel, I was drawn in by the end of the first chapter, and I stayed “in” until the very last page.
Other Schmidt novels, The Wednesday Wars, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, and First Boy (there are others!), are just as compelling as Trouble is. Schmidt has won several Newbery Honor awards and a Printz honor award for his work. I’m looking for Trouble to get at least another honor medal, if not be a winner in either the Newbery or Printz contests…or maybe even both! As an added note, First Boy is set on a New Hampshire dairy farm in a political election year!