Swing Sideways by Nanci Turner Steveson (Lexile: 700; Interest Level: Grades 4-7) begins with Annie watching the country pass by from her seat in the car while she contemplates a summer with no rules, no schedules, and only her own choices to guide her. Then she passes California standing at the edge of the road--tall, barefoot, and looking carefree--and she knows she wants to be friends with her.
Annie doesn't know what might be coming her way when she sneaks off to meet California and immerse herself in the wild and free antics of the new neighbor. California takes Annie with her on a real-life adventure to find the ponies that her mother used to ride, with so much faith and optimism that Annie couldn't help but start believing with her. The friendship between these two girls is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for both girls as they each search for something they secretly need in the life of the other.
When the time comes to share secrets, will Annie be able to handle California's?
Readers will enjoy Annie's relationship with California. Fans of books such as Tuck Everlasting and Bridge to Terabithia will want to give this one a try. And, the author, Nanci Turner Steveson is from Wyoming! It certainly deserves to be a 2017-2018 Indian Paintbrush Nominee. (288 p.)
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.