Lizzie  Bright and the Buckminster Boy
Gary D. Schmidt
Newbery Honor; Printz Honor

This is an excellent book! As you might surmise from those award stickers on the cover, I’m not the only one who thinks so. Historical fiction is Schmidt’s strong suit; this particular book takes place in Maine in 1912 and centers on the white Buckminster Boy (Turner) and the black Lizzie Bright. Turner and Lizzie also represent town and country (island in this case), establishment and fringe, the way-it’s-always-been and the way-it-should-and-could-be. All of this potential conflict set in a small town that’s slowly dying as it faces the end of the industry that’s kept it alive.

Turner grows up in this book. He makes hard decisions, stands up for what he believes is right, and watches those “right” decisions still not end happily all the time. A pitch perfect book for the 12-14 crowd, this is a book that raises great questions. Schmidt’s biblical allusions are an added treat for those steeped in biblical literacy; his characterization is especially well done in this novel.

Things to Note/Discuss

  • When is it okay to stand up to a parent?
  • Are there decisions that Turner made that you feel are particularly noteworthy? Were there any you disagreed with or thought foolish?
  • What do you think Turner’s father should have done in regards to the island (Malaga) and its people?
  • Any thoughts on looking a whale in its eye?

Book from my local library; cover image from goodread; drinking Private Selection peppermint tea