When You Reach Me

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Winner of the 2010 John Newbery Medal Four mysterious letters change Miranda's world forever. By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it's safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner. But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda's mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper: I am coming to save your friend's life, and my own. I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter. The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she's too late. From the Hardcover edition.
Curriculet Details
53 Questions
53 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in the 5th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining point-of-view, cross-literature connections, and necessary background knowledge. It also contains videos that support comprehension such as videos about point-of-view and setting references that may be unfamiliar to students. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to comparing and contrasting characters, points-of-view, and vocabulary. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Chapter 1 - Things You Keep in a Box

Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. Is there a word on this page you need to look up?  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 2 - Things That Go Missing

What does Richard mean when he says that "some of us have to come knocking"? 

Chapter 3 - Things You Hide

Miranda is reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. It is a fantasy book that was first published years ago. The words below are from the beginning of the book. You can see why kids enjoy reading A Wrinkle in Time! "It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger."  (This annotation contains an image)
What can you tell about the relationship between Belle and Miranda? 
It's not clear who Miranda is talking to when she says "you." As you read more of the story, a picture of who "you" is will start to develop.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 4 - The Speed Round

Read this sentence from the text. There are a possible twenty-one points in the speed round, and a perfect score earns a cash bonus of twenty-one hundred dollars.Which of the following statements uses score in the same way that it is used in the statement from the text? 
The $20,000 Pyramid was a very popular game show in America for many years. Here is a clip of contestants playing the The $20,000 Pyramid. Contestants had to win this round in order to advance to the Winner's Circle.  (This annotation contains a video)
Why would Miranda want to hear the story of the day she met Sal over and over? 

Chapter 5 - Things That Kick

Miranda and the neighborhood kids seem to be referring to someone who is mentally ill. While it can make you feel uneasy to be around someone who is mentally ill, it is inappropriate to call the mentally ill names. 
What does Miranda mean when she says, "It's crazy the things that a person can pretend not to notice"? 

Chapter 6 - Things That Get Tangled

There all kinds of knots that all serve different functions. The clove hitch is considered one of the most important knots. It is usually tied around something as a crossing knot.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 7 - Things That Stain

How does this description of the walk home contribute to the structure of this chapter? 
Miranda and Sal aren't afraid that the laughing man will harm them. They are frightened by his unusual behavior.  

Chapter 8 - Mom’s Rules for Life in New York City

What is the most likely reason that Miranda's "trick" works? 

Chapter 9 - Things You Wish For

Based on what you have read in the text, why is it hard for Miranda to imagine where they would park a sailboat? 

Chapter 10 - Things That Sneak Up on You

A "mental health day" is a phrase that is used to describe a day in which you do nothing except for relax and unwind in order to rid yourself of stress.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 11 - Things That Bounce

What is most likely wrong with Sal? 
Have you ever wondered why girls sometimes engage in the types of behavior described here? You might even have heard this described as "girl drama." Scientists believe that girls' brains are wired to care more about relationships and friendships, and this may be a factor. If this is a problem among your friends, talk to a counselor or teacher who can help you sort out the complicated issues that can occur between girls!  (This annotation contains an image)
What is the primary difference between Julia and Miranda? 

Chapter 12 - Things That Burn

A doorman works in the lobby of an apartment complex and is there to assist tenants with any number of requests. What does this detail tell you about Annemarie's family?  (This annotation contains an image)
What is the most likely reason that Annemarie's dad cooks when he is on a deadline? 

Chapter 13 - The Winner’s Circle

Here is clip of the Winner's Circle round of The $10,000 Pyramid. There was a special contest going on at the time this clip was filmed, and contestants were qualifying to come back for a chance to win $100,000! (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 14 - Things You Keep Secret

Before you read this chapter, watch this video about point-of-view. Later in the chapter, you will answer a question about point-of-view.  (This annotation contains a video)
What does Miranda's mom mean when she says that Miranda's teacher is a "frustrated architect"? 
For the latter part of the 1960s and the early 1970s, the United States was involved in a very unpopular war in Vietnam. There was a draft in place which meant young men were "selected" to join the military in order to fight the war, whether they wanted to or not! However, if the young man was enrolled in college, he didn't have to go even if he were "selected." This was also an unpopular idea because the poor couldn't afford college. Some of those who could afford it went to college just to avoid fighting in Vietnam. This photograph shows an actual draft notice that a young man recieved in 1965.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why can Miranda not picture Wheelie getting the kids for their dental appointments? 
It is true that students have a variety of gifts and different abilities. One student might be gifted at reading but does not do so well in math. Another may need extra help with reading but sails through math with little help. Everyone has different strengths and challenges. It makes the world more interesting! (This annotation contains an image)
Remember that Miranda is reading A Wrinkle in Time. A Wrinkle in Time is the story of Meg Murry. She is transported on an adventure through time and space with her younger brother Charles Wallace and her friend Calvin O'Keefe. They are attempting to rescue Meg's father, a gifted scientist, from the evil forces that hold him prisoner on another planet. This is a page from the graphic novel version of A Wrinkle in Time.  (This annotation contains an image)
How do Miranda and Marcus differ in their points-of-view about A Wrinkle in Time? 
Physics is the study of matter and its motion through space and time. Most students begin to study physics in depth during high school.  (This annotation contains an image)
What is the most likely reason the fourth grader puts his sticker in his pocket? 

Chapter 15 - Things That Smell

Remember that you have a define feature you can use with unfamiliar words.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 16 - Things You Don’t Forget

How does this scene with Sal at his door contribute to the plot of the book? 
When you do things that are a part of your everyday routine, it is sometimes difficult to remember actually doing them. Have you ever had this happen?  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 18 - Things on a Slant

Authors include these types of details to create realistic characters. In real life, it is very inappropriate to make fun of another culture, even if you mean it as "just a joke." 

Chapter 19 - White Things

This is not the way that women of any age prefer to be addressed. It is ok to call a close friend or family member these names, if that person doesn't mind. It is offensive to call girls you do not know by these names. It is considered demeaning.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Miranda concerned about the boys and the laughing man on her walk home with Annemarie? 

Chapter 20 - The Second Note

What is significant about this note being addressed to Miranda? 
Have you ever seen a two-dollar bill? In 1976, the United States released the two-dollar bill in honor of the nation's bicentennial. Most people saved the two-dollar bills thinking they would become collectors' items(they didn't). Today, they are rarely seen in circulation.  (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz 1 

Chapter 21 - Things You Push Away

What does Miranda's mom mean when she says that people like the world to be "blurry"? 

Chapter 22 - Things You Count

When restaurants order supplies from vendors, they count the shipment to make sure that they get the amount they paid for.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 23 - Messy Things

Why does Julia glance at Miranda when she makes the comment about Annemarie not needing the money? 
A Wrinkle in Time was written during a period in time when people were concerned about communism spreading around the world. Communism is a type of government in which individuality is not valued. This detail was included in the book to make a point about the importance of being an individual.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 24 - Invisible Things

Why does Miranda rip Julia's paper before handing it to her? 

Chapter 25 - Things You Hold On To

This is one of the challenges of two-dollar bills in circulation. It also caused problems when they were first issued in 1976. A standard cash drawer has slots for ones, fives, tens, twenties, and larger bills, but there is no slot for the two-dollar bills!  (This annotation contains an image)
What does Miranda mean when she says that Jimmy "saw right through Julia"? 

Chapter 26 - Salty Things

The criminal justice system in the United States is complicated. Some people feel that we have too many people in jail (look at the graph below and you will see how many), and that we should spend more time and money better educating people in order to prevent them from going to jail. Others believe that we should be tough on crime, and in order to keep people straight, we need jail. Some people think that while in jail prisoners should be educated and rehabilitated. On the other hand, some people believe jail is just for punishment. It is a complex matter with lots of different ideas!  (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following statements best describes Miranda's mom's point-of-view about people held in jail? 

Chapter 27 - Things You Pretend

Kids who live in larger cities and towns have access to public transportation in the form of buses, trains, or subways. These city kids become very skilled at knowing which bus or train to take to get to their desired destination. On the hand, kids in smaller towns that have no public transport usually go in private vehicles, ride their bikes, or walk to their destinations!  (This annotation contains an image)
What does "a switch had been flicked inside her" mean? 

Chapter 28 - Things That Crack

Epilepsy is a medical condition in which a person has seizures. The seizures can be like Annemarie's, and the person stares off and is disconnected from what is going on around them. Some seizures are more violent, and the person noticeably shakes and trembles. The chart shows some of the things that can be done for someone suffering a seizure.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Miranda happy when Julia's watch cracks? 

Chapter 29 - Things Left Behind

Some people believe that a person's diet effects epilepsy. However, there is little real evidence that this is true. 
What is Miranda referring to when she says, "That was hard to imagine"? 

Chapter 30 - The Third Note

How does this third note mostly contribute to the plot of the story? 

Chapter 31 - Things That Make No Sense

Have you noticed that the chapter titles could be categories in The Winner's Circle of The $20,000 Pyramid? Look at this title. This chapter is a little confusing as Marcus and Miranda are going to discuss time travel.  (This annotation contains an image)
The broccoli patch that the kids keep referring to is in A Wrinkle in Time. This page from the graphic version of the book shows a scene in the garden. Many people feel that When You Reach Me is a modern-day version of A Wrinkle In Time.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Miranda not want Julia to be part of the converstaion? 
This concept of time travel can be very confusing, especially the way Marcus is explaining it. Look at this page from the graphic version of A Wrinkle in Time and see how it explains time, not as a straight line, but as a box!  (This annotation contains an image)
What is the primary difference between Marcus and Miranda? 

Chapter 32 - The First Proof

You have noticed by now that the kids in When You Reach Me eat lunch away from school. This used to be a fairly common practice, but today most school districts require that students eat lunch at school for a number of reasons.  (This annotation contains an image)
Based on evidence in the text, what is the most likely reason Colin took the rolls from Jimmy's? 

Chapter 33 - Things You Give Away

Think about how Miranda interacts with Julia and how she treats Annemarie in this scene. Based on what you have read in the text, what makes Miranda behave this way toward the girls? Cite evidence from the text as you write. 
In books, characters often do things that shouldn't be duplicated in real life. Authors create these situations in order to build conflict, suspense, and tension as they develop character. You know that you should never get involved in a conversation with a stranger, especially (as in this case) with a street person.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 35 - Tied-Up Things

Why is Miranda stressed about the appearance of the apartment? 
If you have never lived in an apartment complex, you may not know that some apartment buildings have lobby doors that lock and prevent people from entering unless they "buzz" the apartment they wish to visit. The tenant must then press a button that allows the visitors to enter. The photo shows a buzzer panel with residents' names on it.  (This annotation contains an image)
Before the days of IPODs and digital music, people listened to records. These were played on a turntable record player.  (This annotation contains an image)
What is something that Annemarie and Miranda have in common? 

Chapter 36 - Things That Turn Pink

Before large department stores and shopping online were commonplace, neighborhoods had lots of small specialty shops. A stationery store would sell cards, paper, and similar items. Some of these types of stores are still around, but there aren't near as many as there once were, especially since many people communicate electronically.  (This annotation contains an image)
Based on what you have read in the text, why does Annemarie show Colin the card with the rose on it? 
Quiz 2 

Chapter 37 - Things That Fall Apart

What does Jimmy mean when he says that "some things are in the blood"? 
Jimmy is engaging in racist behavior. Racism means that people are judged based solely on their race. It is the idea that all people of a particular race have the same characteristics or behavior. America has struggled with the issue of racism for hundreds of years. It is a battle that can only be won in the hearts of people.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 38 - Christmas Vacation

How does the simile like a dingy white sheet contribute to the mood? 

Chapter 39 - The Second Proof

This is the second proof. Remember the note that Miranda received said, "Christmas Day. Tesser well." This is the second item in the list of three proofs.  (This annotation contains an image)
How does this chapter contribute to the plot of the story? 

Chapter 40 - Things in an Elevator

Before cell phones were common, pay phones were used to make calls when away from home. It cost a dime to make a local call. Today, phone booths have been made obsolete by cell phones.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Miranda's mom so upset? 
What does Miranda mean when she says, "..having Mom there made it different, like walking down the street with a blanket wrapped tight around me"? 

Chapter 41 - Things You Realize

Think about what Miranda is saying. If you are a bystander when other kids are being mean or unkind, is that just as bad as being mean? Read the quote from Einstein below. Is there truth to his statement?  (This annotation contains an image)
Why do these words feel like a "sacrifice" to Miranda? 

Chapter 43 - Things That Turn Upside Down

This is the theme or lesson of A Wrinkle in Time. Watch this video on theme and see if you are starting to develop an idea of what the theme of When You Reach Me might be.  (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Belle's comment about love, "..it's hard to know when to say it out loud" make Miranda "want to cry"? 
How have Miranda's feelings about her apartment changed? 
Flour is the main ingredient in baked goods. A flourless cake would be a challenge to make, but Annemarie's dad has her on a special diet.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 44 - Things That Are Sweet

The girls are using a natural gas oven that requires a pilot light to be lit.  (This annotation contains an image)
How does this visit with Julia change Miranda's perspective? 

Chapter 45 - The Last Note

How does the way this chapter is written(list style) contribute to the structure of the book? 
Now you know that the "you" is the laughing man and that the laughing man is dead. It should also make sense that everything that has occurred to this point was put in motion in order to save Sal's life. Now, you have to consider how Marcus is connected to the laughing man.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 46 - Difficult Things

Why did Miranda most likely get her ropes and start tying knots? 

Chapter 47 - Things That Heal

McDonald's as well as other fast food restaurants are not known for serving healthy food. Surprisingly enough, for many years people regularly ate fast food without thinking of the health risks that come with eating fried foods that are high in fat.  (This annotation contains an image)
Read this statement from the text.He probably worried about seeing Marcus on that block every single day.Which of the following statements uses block in the same way that it is used in the statement from the text? 

Chapter 48 - Things You Protect

After traumatic events like the one that Miranda witnessed, some people have a difficult time sleeping. This is due to emotional stress. 
Why will Wheelie not let Miranda use the phone? 
Why does Marcus think it will "be better" if he and Miranda didn't run? 
Marcus has failed to realize how his "experimental" punch has changed Sal. Marcus has thought little about that day, but it changed Sal. Do you think this is true in real life? Can one person make a decision that impacts another person without realizing the results of that decision? 
How does this event change Miranda's point-of-view about her mom? 

Chapter 49 - Things You Line Up

The chapter names are similar to The $20,000 Pyramid categories, but they also give great hints about what is to come. What could Things You Line-Up have in store?  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 50 - The $20,000 Pyramid

Dick Clark was a television and radio star. He is an American icon, appearing on television as the host of numerous popular shows including American Bandstand, The $20,000 Pyramid, and decades worth of Rockin' New Year's Eve shows. He kept his youthful appearance and enthusiasm throughout his life.  (This annotation contains an image)
What is the most likely reason Louisa is talking so fast? 

Chapter 51 - Magic Thread

When Miranda and her mom talk about the veil, they are really talking about the things that keep people from seeing life clearly. 
Had you already figured this out, or are you shocked? Marcus and the laughing man are the same person! There were some clues along the way. Marcus made numerous trips to the dentist, and the laughing man has bad teeth, too. Also, both Marcus and the laughing man tell Miranda that she is a "smart kid."  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 52 - Things That Open

Based on evidence in the text, why is riding the bus fun? 

Chapter 53 - Things That Blow Away

Why does Miranda feel that the letter to Marcus is a "horrible burden"? 
"Diamond-jumping" is referring to time travel.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 54 - Sal and Miranda, Miranda and Sal

What is the shared belief that Sal and Miranda have about their friendship?  

Chapter 55 - Parting Gifts

Now that you have finished reading When You Reach Me, you will enjoy watching this interview with the book's author, Rebecca Stead. She talks about some of the events in the book as well as about what inspires her. She used many of her childhood experiences in the book. Who knows-you might do the same some day! Even though she doesn't mention it in this interview, the author's mom was also on The $20,000 Pyramid. Unlike Miranda's mom, Rebecca Stead's mom didn't win any money!  (This annotation contains a video)
Quiz 3