Synopses & Reviews
Increasingly alienated from his widowed father, Vernon joins his friends in ridiculing the neighborhood outcasts'Maxine, an alcoholic prone to outrageous behavior, and Ronald, her retarded son. But when a social service agency tries to put Ronald into a special home, Vernon fights against the move.
1994 Newbery Honor Book
Notable Children's Books of 1994 (ALA)
1994 Best Books for Young Adults (ALA)
1994 Young Adult Editors' Choices (BL)
1994 Books for the Teen Age (NY Public Library)
Young Adult Choices for 1995 (IRA)
Receiving less and less attention from his widowed father, Vernon joins with his friends as they ridicule the neighborhood outcasts--Maxine, an alcoholic prone to public displays of outrageous behavior, and Ronald, her retarded son. Then social services trys to put Ronald into a special home, and Vernon finds himself fighting the agency.
About the Author
Jane Leslie Conly's first novel, Rasco and the Rats of NIMH,
an ALA Booklist Children's Editors Choice, and its sequel, R-T, Margaret and the Rats of NIMH,
were included on a multitude of state library masterlists. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed Trout Summer
(an ALA Notable Children?s Book and Best Book for Young Adults) and the Newbery Honor Book Crazy Lady!
She lives in Baltimore, MD.
In Her Own Words...
"I was born in 1948, the second of four children of Robert Leslie Conly and Sally McCaslin Conly. Most of my childhood was spent on a small farm adjacent to the Potomac River near Leesburg, Virginia. We children had a cow, several horses, a sheep and chickens to care for as well as dogs and cats. We worked in my mother's large garden and also cut wood. Our chores had to be done, but otherwise we were almost completely unsupervised by today's standards. I especially enjoyed fishing in the river and nearby ponds.
"Both my parents were writers and editors, and I wrote stories from first grade on. My father (who wrote the 1972 Newbery Medal-winning Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH under the pen name Robert C. O'Brien) taught me to try to give my writing the cadence of spoken conversation, and to eliminate unnecessary description. (I am still working on this.) My mother taught me that good characters are the most important element in fiction.
"My family moved to Washington, D.C. in 1962. I graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1966, from Smith College in 1971, and from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars Program in 1974. That same year I finished my father's young adult novel, Z for Zachariah. (He had asked me to finish it when he realized he was going to die from heart failure.) My mother edited this book, and it was published in 1975.
"I have lived in Baltimore since 1973. I am married to Peter Dwyer, a public-interest attorney and musician, and we have two children, Eliza and Will. Besides writing, I have worked as the director of a community center, as a camp director, and as a counselor for people trying to buy their first home or who are facing foreclosure, Since the birth of Will in 1985 most of my "free" time has been spent writing. There are some aspects of writing that I really enjoy, and some that I don't like. However, I've noticed that if I don't write a certain amount each week, I lose my overall sense of contentment.
"I also spend time gardening, cooking, reading, fishing, and working on a dilapidated log cabin that we own on Muddy Creek in southern Pennsylvania."