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Sonny's House of Spies

Sonny's House of Spies Cover

ISBN13: 9781416968153
ISBN10: 1416968156
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Sonny is only one of the spies at the Bradshaw house in Mozier, Alabama. But as a child he saw a tray full of dinner come flying across the front hall at his father. His mother's aim was dead on. And Daddy's departure promptly followed.

Loretta, Sonny's older sister, spies by eavesdropping. As she tells him, "How else am I going to survive in a family tight-lipped as tombs?"

But the kids' spying only scratches the surface of what's really going on in this 1950s family in the deep South. While Deaton, the youngest, worries about pirates and vampires, and Uncle Marty, family protector, serves up scripture with every bite at the Circle of Life donut shop, somebody is watching.

Somebody unsuspected by Sonny. But at thirteen he knows something's fishy, and he intends to find out what. That's why one Friday after Uncle Marty pays him for dishwashing at the Circle of Life, he sneaks out of town, first by bike and then by bus. Selma, his mama; Mamby; Nissa; Uncle Sink; Aunt Roo; his sister and brother — nobody from that all-too-serious but often hilarious crew has a clue where he's gone. And even Sonny can't say exactly what he's after, until those tight-lipped tombs start talking, and life in the house on Rhubarb changes for good.

Synopsis:

Sonny is only one of the spies at the Bradshaw house in Mozier, Alabama. But as a child he saw a tray full of dinner come flying across the front hall at his father. His mother's aim was dead on. And Daddy's departure promptly followed.

Loretta, Sonny's older sister, spies by eavesdropping. As she tells him, "How else am I going to survive in a family tight-lipped as tombs?"

But the kids' spying only scratches the surface of what's really going on in this 1950s family in the deep South. While Deaton, the youngest, worries about pirates and vampires, and Uncle Marty, family protector, serves up scripture with every bite at the Circle of Life donut shop, somebody is watching.

Somebody unsuspected by Sonny. But at thirteen he knows something's fishy, and he intends to find out what. That's why one Friday after Uncle Marty pays him for dishwashing at the Circle of Life, he sneaks out of town, first by bike and then by bus. Selma, his mama; Mamby; Nissa; Uncle Sink; Aunt Roo; his sister and brother — nobody from that all-too-serious but often hilarious crew has a clue where he's gone. And even Sonny can't say exactly what he's after, until those tight-lipped tombs start talking, and life in the house on Rhubarb changes for good.

About the Author

George Ella Lyon has written many books for young readers including the award-winning picture book You an

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Gypsi, June 5, 2010 (view all comments by Gypsi)
It's the 1947, in a small town in Alabama and Sonny's dad has just walked out on them. "You don't know my daddy," the book begins, and Sonny tells the reader of the day his life changed. He knows there has to be something more to the split up than he has been told, and it puzzles him. A few years go by, and the reader sees small town Southern life through Sonny's eyes as he tries to handle his own life without a father, as well as every day living with his sometimes funny, sometimes difficult family. Sonny deals with heartbreak, pain, and love, familial and otherwise, and at last finds peace within himself regarding his father.

Sadly, this brief synopsis does nothing for the book. Telling a skeleton outline of the plot with no spoilers and none of Lyon's amazing writing is so unjust! This is an amazing book, with prose that sometimes verges on poetry. Lyon had me laughing out loud with Sonny's predicaments on one page, near tears on another, and spellbound from the sheer beauty of her language so often. She captures the feel of the South so well and so subtly that there are bound to be references that will pass by those uninitiated to Southern culture.

I couldn't NOT share a few lines that caught me especially:

"It was a sleepy kind of morning, the air like bathwater."

"Like some reversible cloth, Mama's laughter flipped over into sobs."

"We just stood by the shiny gray coffin with its handles like fancy toilet-paper holders and said "Yes" and "No" and "Thank you" and breathed whatever breaths came by: mint, onion, tobacco, whiskey, and bad."

"All the windows had been propped open, but it was one of those afternoons when the air lay on top of you like a big cat, and no waving of cardboard Jesus-at-the-door fans could make it get up and move."



My main regret is that I fear the intended audience will not be interested in the subject and that some of the emotional dilemmas may really be too mature for grades 5-8. It would be more appropriate, I think, for older YA readers. I would suggest that a parent of younger readers read it first (I give it a full recommendation for all adult readers) and then decide when/if it's appropriate for their child at that age.

Another quibble is that the dust jacket blurb is not very appealing; I only chose to read it because it took place in the South. I really can't see a child picking this up and saying, "oh, this sounds just what I've been wanting to read". It will most likely take an adult pushing it on them to get a child to read it. A new, more interesting cover would be advised.

But, as far as the book goes. . . It's a five star read for older YAs and adults. Masterful writing all the way through; I will be looking up her other novels right away.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781416968153
Publisher:
Atheneum Books
Subject:
Mysteries, Espionage, & Detective Stories
Author:
Lyon, George Ella
Subject:
Social Issues - Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Subject:
Family - Parents
Subject:
Mysteries & Detective Stories
Subject:
Family - Multigenerational
Subject:
Social Issues - Abandonment
Subject:
Social Issues - Homosexuality
Subject:
Children s-Reference Family and Genealogy
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Series:
Richard Jackson Books
Publication Date:
20071131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 6 up to 9
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.5 in
Age Level:
11-14

Related Subjects

Children's » Activities » General
Children's » Reference » Family and Genealogy
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General Medicine
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Basketball » General
Young Adult » Fiction » Social Issues » Homosexuality

Sonny's House of Spies
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Product details 304 pages Aladdin Paperbacks - English 9781416968153 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Sonny is only one of the spies at the Bradshaw house in Mozier, Alabama. But as a child he saw a tray full of dinner come flying across the front hall at his father. His mother's aim was dead on. And Daddy's departure promptly followed.

Loretta, Sonny's older sister, spies by eavesdropping. As she tells him, "How else am I going to survive in a family tight-lipped as tombs?"

But the kids' spying only scratches the surface of what's really going on in this 1950s family in the deep South. While Deaton, the youngest, worries about pirates and vampires, and Uncle Marty, family protector, serves up scripture with every bite at the Circle of Life donut shop, somebody is watching.

Somebody unsuspected by Sonny. But at thirteen he knows something's fishy, and he intends to find out what. That's why one Friday after Uncle Marty pays him for dishwashing at the Circle of Life, he sneaks out of town, first by bike and then by bus. Selma, his mama; Mamby; Nissa; Uncle Sink; Aunt Roo; his sister and brother — nobody from that all-too-serious but often hilarious crew has a clue where he's gone. And even Sonny can't say exactly what he's after, until those tight-lipped tombs start talking, and life in the house on Rhubarb changes for good.

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