Synopses & Reviews
A ghost saved twelve-year-old Maddie's life when she was an infant, her Granny Lane claims, so Maddie must always remember that she is special. But it's hard to feel special when you've spent your life shuffled from one foster home to another. And now that she's at the East Tennessee Children's Home, Maddie feels even less special. andlt;BRandgt; She longs for a place to call home. She even has a "book of houses" in which she glues pictures of places she'd like to live. Then one day, a new girl, Murphy, shows up at the Home armed with tales about exotic travels, being able tot fly, and boys who recite poetry to wild horses. When Murphy offers Maddie something she has never had before, Maddie begins to wonder if she has finally found someone who andlt;Iandgt;feelsandlt;/Iandgt; like home.
"Wrought with the same sensitivity as her debut novel, Dovey Coe, Dowell's quietly affecting novel explores the fragile camaraderie between two 11-year-old girls who are placed in the East Tennessee Children's Home. Narrator Maddie knows there is something special about Murphy the moment the worldly-wise girl arrives. In hopes of sealing a friendship as soon as possible ('When a new kid comes into the Home, you've got to stake your claim quick if you want dibs on being friends'), Maddie, with trepidation, shows Murphy her most prized possession a scrapbook filled with pictures of houses ('I was afraid she'd say something that would ruin the Book of Houses forever. [People] can take the things you love and twist them around with a few words so you can't bear to ever look at them'). Inspired by the book, Murphy decides they should build a house of their own. The author creates a poignant contrast between the children's rich fantasies, expressed inside the fort, and the sadness that haunts each of them in the outside world. While Maddie dreams of a brighter future, Murphy directs her attention backward, re-creating her history and identity. The author gently reveals the tragedies they have suffered as well as the strength they gain when they are united. A celebration of friendship and of the healing powers of the imagination. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
* "A lovely, quietly bittersweet tale of friendship and family."
"A celebration of friendship and of the healing powers of the imagination."
"Unique and memorable."
"A choice read aloud. Tough issues, difficult situations, engaging characters, and a tentative ending provide ample discussion possibilities."
andlt;divandgt;"Unique and memorable."andlt;/divandgt;
From the Edgar Award-winning author of "Dovey Coe" comes this story of 12-year-old Maddie, a foster child who can't stop looking for a home. When Maddie shows a new girl her beloved scrapbook, she doesn't anticipate this one gesture will challenge her very idea of what home, and family, are all about.
About the Author
andnbsp;Frances Oandrsquo;Roark Dowell is the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of andlt;iandgt;Dovey Coeandlt;/iandgt;, which won the Edgar Award and the William Allen White Award; andlt;iandgt;Where Iandrsquo;d Like to Beandlt;/iandgt;; the bestselling andlt;iandgt;The Secret Language of Girlsandlt;/iandgt; and its sequels andlt;iandgt;The Kind of Friends We Used to Beandlt;/iandgt; and andlt;iandgt;The Sound of Your Voice, Only Really Far Awayandlt;/iandgt;; andlt;iandgt;Chicken Boyandlt;/iandgt;; andlt;iandgt;Shooting the Moonandlt;/iandgt;, which was awarded the Christopher Medal; the Phineas L. MacGuire series; andlt;iandgt;Falling Inandlt;/iandgt;; the critically acclaimed andlt;iandgt;The Second Life of Abigail Walkerandlt;/iandgt;; andlt;iandgt;Anybody Shining;andlt;/iandgt; and the teen novel andlt;iandgt;Ten Miles Past Normalandlt;/iandgt;. She lives with her husband and two sons in Durham, North Carolina. Connect with Frances online at FrancesDowell.com.
Reading Group Guide
ABOUT THE BOOK
Maddie lives in the East Tennessee Children's Home. Ricky Ray, age six, is her special friend. Then Murphy, a new girl, comes to the home telling wonderful stories about her previous life. Maddie doesn't know whether to believe them but enjoys them anyway. Maddie makes scrapbooks of houses, houses cut from magazines, houses where she'd like to live. The children build a fort with the help and in the yard of Logan, who has a home and a family. The children make scrapbooks and weave stories about how they would like their lives to be.
Adoption; Orphans and foster children; Friendship; Imagination.
Why do you think Murphy tells such stories about herself?
Do you think Penny Korda will adopt Maddie and Ricky?
Why did Maddie bury the books? What was the symbolism?
Maddie was judging the other children by her first impressions. Why can that sometimes be wrong?
How did Logan's mother change during the story?
Start a scrapbook of your favorite things -- faces, clothes, toys, etc.
Draw a map of what you think the fort looks like. Where are the doors, windows, and furniture?
Maddie collects pictures of houses to decide which one she wants for herself. What would your ideal home be like? Draw a picture or write a description.
Read some other books about foster children, such as Pictures of Hollis Wood by Patricia Reilly Giff, The Pinballs by Betsy Byars, and The Same Stuff as Stars by Katherine Paterson. How are they alike and different?
This reading group guide is for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
Prepared by Marj Lloyd
© William Allen White Children's Book Award
Please visit http://www.emporia.edu/libsv/wawbookaward/ for more information about the awards and to see curriculum guides for other master list titles.