THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY

THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY
April 12, 2016

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Laura's Bookshelf: COUNTING THYME

Happy New Year! I am so excited that 2016 is here, at last.

It's the first Poetry Friday of 2016!
Mary Lee is hosting our New Year's Party
at A Year of Reading.

Being part of a debut author group has given me behind-the-scenes insights and previews of so many great books coming out this year.

One of those books is COUNTING THYME, by Melanie Conklin.

This middle grade novel is about a family who moves from California to New York City, so the youngest of the three Owens siblings can be part of a cancer drug trial. The narrator is middle child Thyme (all three sibs are named for spices). Thyme is a super-feeler. She struggles with balancing her grief about moving away from her home, her grandmother and her best friend, with her hope that moving across the country will extend little brother Val’s life.

Because this is Thyme’s story, Val’s illness – while important – is only a part of the narrative. Thyme has to deal with adjusting to a new school and classmates, living in an apartment building for the first time, and navigating a busy city. All of these elements work together to create a realistic portrait of a loving family going through the highs and lows of an extended crisis together. I especially liked that the finale of the book is about Thyme’s growth, and that some important threads of the story are left, believably, open-ended.

Check out Melanie's blog post,
"Focus on the Good Stuff in 2016."
You'll find printables to create
an achievement jar similar to Thyme's.
COUNTING THYME debuts on April 12. Here is the blurb from Goodreads:

Newbery-winning Rules meets Counting by 7s in this affecting story of a girl’s devotion to her brother and what it means to be home

When eleven-year-old Thyme Owens’ little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. The island of Manhattan doesn’t exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace the change for what it is: temporary.

After Val’s treatment shows real promise and Mr. Owens accepts a full-time position in the city, Thyme has to face the frightening possibility that the move to New York is permanent. Thyme loves her brother, and knows the trial could save his life—she’d give anything for him to be well—but she still wants to go home, although the guilt of not wanting to stay is agonizing. She finds herself even more mixed up when her heart feels the tug of new friends, a first crush, and even a crotchety neighbor and his sweet whistling bird. All Thyme can do is count the minutes, the hours, and days, and hope time can bring both a miracle for Val and a way back home.

With equal parts heart and humor, Melanie Conklin’s debut is a courageous and charming story of love and family—and what it means to be counted.


There’s a book giveaway running at Goodreads right now! Click on this link for your chance to win a copy of COUNTING THYME .

Who will like it?
  • Children 9 and up who are curious about living in a big city.
  • Readers who are learning how to handle transitions
  • Foodies young and old!


What will readers learn about?
  • The sacrifices and changes that happen when a member of a family is seriously ill.
  • Patience and a positive attitude can help when you’re going through a difficult transition.
  • Food is a way of sharing with and caring about each other.


I’m pairing two poems with COUNTING THYME and both have to do with food. Over the course of the novel, Thyme learns that food is a wonderful way to show you care about someone. There’s a great character in COUNTING THYME who’s the Italian aunt version of Downton Abbey’s Mrs. Patmore. The dishes she makes for Thyme, the Owens family, and a cranky neighbor had my mouth watering.

A good portion of the story takes place over the winter holidays, so first up is Babara Crooker’s poem “After the Holidays.”

After the Holidays
by
Barbara Crooker

the house settles back into itself,
wrapped up in silence, a robe
around its shoulders.  Nothing
is roasting in the oven or cooling
on the countertops.  No presents
are waiting to be wrapped, no cards
fill the mouth of the mailbox.
All is calm, all is bright, sunlight
glinting off snow.  No eggnog, no yule
log, no letters to be licked
and stamped. No more butter
cookies, no more fudge, just miles
to go on the treadmill, another round
plate added to the weight machine.
All our good intentions pave the road.
We stride out into the new year,
resolute to become firm, to define
our muscles, to tighten our borders…
Read the rest at Your Daily Poem.

Of course, I couldn’t resist including Shel Silverstein poem entitled “Italian Food.”

Italian Food
by Shel Silverstein

Oh, how I love Italian food.
I eat it all the time,
Not just 'cause how good it tastes
But 'cause how good it rhymes.
Minestrone, cannelloni,
Macaroni, rigatoni,
Spaghettini, scallopini,
Escarole, braciole,
Insalata, cremolata, manicotti,
Marinara, carbonara,
Shrimp francese, Bolognese...


Author Melanie Conklin and Cookies for Kids’ Cancer
are partnering to fight childhood cancer
through funding for groundbreaking research!
Melanie is running a great fundraiser to support the charity Cookies for Kids' Cancer. For every pre-order of COUNTING THYME, she will be making a donation! You can read more about the fundraiser here.

I hope your new year is sweet, everyone! I’ll be at ALA Midwinter next week, so I won’t be blogging. Look for my ALA report at Today’s Little Ditty at the end of January.


9 comments:

Diane Mayr said...

Another excellent post, Laura. I'll be sure to write up an order card for Counting Thyme. I'm not a big Silverstein fan, but I do like "Italian Food." Have a great New Year and I hope to bump into you in Boston!

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater said...

Happy happy 2016, Laura! Thank you for thsi Barbara Crooker poem. I love her, and this one is new to me. I am so excited for your book this year...lots to look forward to. Love to you and yours at this beautiful time of newness. xo

Mary Lee said...

I love that moon as a comma between thoughts, and the calendar shuffling pages and dealing out a new set of twelve. Happy Debut Author Year!

Ruth said...

Happy New Year!

Molly Hogan said...

Congratulations on your upcoming book publication--how exciting! Thank you so much for including the Barbara Crooker poem. I'm not familiar with her but this poem will certainly send me searching for more. What a wonderful ending--the moon comma-ing between old year and new and a fresh new set of calendar pages ruffling. Happy New Year!

cb hanek said...

Thank you for sharing about Counting Thyme; earlier today, before reading your post, I was thinking about two mothers who celebrated their first Christmas and New Year without their daughters. One, a first grader, died of cancer this past April. I hope the book, as well as the fundraisers, bring more awareness to the need for accelerated research to eliminate childhood cancer. That's one of my New Year's prayers. ...God bless you and your author debut:) How exciting! Happy New Year!

Tara Smith said...

Happy Debut Author Year!!! This is my Poetry Friday choice, too - it's been on my mind ever since Margaret shared it on FB.

Tabatha said...


Of course I am interested in the herbal/spice/foodie connection in these books! :-) The author sounds very poetic.
I wonder what you will do this year for your birthday month?? Do you have a plan yet?

Ray Ortiz said...

My daughter read and adored this book