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This week I am celebrating with my friend and author Ginny Rorby as she receives her award from the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME) for winning the Sunshine State Young Readers Award (as voted by 6-8 grade students in Florida) for Lost in the River of Grass. To celebrate, I will be reviewing all of her books this week.

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Lost in the River of Grass
Author: Ginny Rorby
Published February 9th, 2011 by Carolrhoda Books

Goodreads Summary: “I don’t realize I’m crying until he glances at me. For a moment, I see the look of anguish in his eyes, then he blinks it away and slips off into the water. I immediately think of the gator. It’s still down there somewhere…”

A science-class field trip to the Everglades is supposed to be fun, but Sarah’s new at Glades Academy, and her fellow freshmen aren’t exactly making her feel welcome. When an opportunity for an unauthorized side trip on an airboat presents itself, it seems like a perfect escape—an afternoon without feeling like a sore thumb. But one simple oversight turns a joyride into a race for survival across the river of grass. They’re forced to walk out of the Everglades (they’ve got a knife, a small amount of Gatorade and some suspicious Spam). Sarah will have to count on her instincts—and a guy she barely knows—if they have any hope of making it back alive.

Lost in the River of Grass takes on the classic survival genre using one of the country’s most unique wild places as a backdrop. It is in the tradition of survival stories like Hatchet or My Side of the Mountain, where the young protagonist finds herself as she struggles to survive in an unforgiving wilderness. In this tense, character-driven thriller, Sarah must overcome prejudice and the unforgiving wilderness in a struggle to survive.

My Review: This is Ginny’s most human of a novel. It is about survival and finding the strength inside of yourself to stand up to anything- even something that has always terrified you. Throughout the novel, Sarah and Andy, who are lost in the Everglades, face things that are only in most of our nightmares. I learned, quite quickly, that I probably wouldn’t survive if I was lost in the river of grass. But Sarah, who is scared of EVERYTHING, grows up right in front of our eyes. This book made me gasp, cry, laugh- go through the cycle of emotions, but that is what makes a book so wonderful. Ginny Rorby knows how to write characters that the reader can connect with and this is no exception- Sarah is just a normal girl and Andy is just a normal boy, but through their journey they found out how extraordinary they are.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This book is loved by students. I saw it when it was an SSYRA nominee—students devoured it and loved talking about the crazy survival moments and the surprise ending. Because of the love that students have for it, Lost in the River of Grass is perfect for classroom libraries and for read alouds.

Discussion Questions: Sarah is afraid of snakes.  How does she overcome her fear?  What are you afraid of? How could you overcome your fear?; What does Lost in the River of Grass teach us about prejudice?

We Flagged: “I onlly get a dozen feet ahead of him when my leg hits something hard and knobby. In a heart-stopping moment, I know it’s the gator, yet I can’t move. In my mind I see its pink throat and huge teeth coming up through the murky water. something brushes the back of my neck, and I scream.” (p. 72)

Read This If You Loved: Brian books by Gary Paulsen, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, Trapped by Michael Northrop, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong

Recommended For: 

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Congratulations again Ginny! You deserve it!

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