Tony Abbott manages to weave several plot lines and two historical tales in this wonderful novel. It is 1959 and a white family from Ohio sets off on a trip to Florida. One of the two brothers is a Civil War enthusiast so the family plans visits to battlefields on the way. The black family’s trip involves the young son going to Ohio from Atlanta to visit relatives “in the country.” How the journeys become interwoven is the result of the segregated/Jim Crow policies, as well as several misunderstandings.
The author uses an interesting technique of switching narrators. This book would make an excellent introduction to or reinforcement of point of view lessons. The narrator we learn the most about is Bobby, the younger brother of the white Ohio family. He is a dynamic, flawed character and we witness how the trip changes him. Character traits is another fiction element that can be studied deeply in this novel.
Lunchbox Dreams is an easy read for most upper elementary/early middle school students. It would be a great novel to correlate with history lessons on the Civil War or the Civil Rights movement. The book is so richly written that many reading targets can be examined if this is a class read. Compare and contrast, as well as cause and effect are two that come to mind.