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About the Author

Valerie Hobbs is the recipient of the 1999 PEN/Norma Klein Award, a biennial prize that recognizes "an emerging voice of literary merit among American writers of children's fiction." She is the author of young adult and middle-grade novels including Sheep, Anything but Ordinary, and The Last Best Days of Summer. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. in English from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she has taught academic writing. Valerie lives in Santa Barbara, California, with her husband.


Gr 5-7-After finally finishing his painful cancer treatment, Toby Steiner, 11, is spending the summer in a rented cabin with his overprotective mother and weekender dad. Determined not to go back into therapy, he hides from his parents the lump he's discovered on his side. Exploring the countryside on an old bike, he encounters a skinny old cow and its owner, an almost-blind woman whose motto, "Whoever steals my freedom takes my life," represents her own defiance over attempts to usurp her independence. Embittered by life, Pearl Rhodes Richardson, 94, is a celebrated poet who has vowed never to write again. She and Toby develop a friendship and find common ground in their resistance to their families' interference in their lives. He helps with chores and reads poetry to her, and the two care for the failing cow whose inevitable death becomes a metaphor for what must be accepted and for what it is not yet time. Defiance turns to decision as each one helps the other face a difficult but hopeful future. An afterword, set several years later, provides a triumphant conclusion for both Toby's and Pearl's stories. Spare, graceful writing, with just enough detail to bring the characters and setting to life, skillfully paces the action and keeps the focus on Toby's conflicted feelings, ultimately celebrating the source of strength he and Pearl become to one another. A quiet, yet resonant story.-Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Real and poignant." --Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review"Beautiful and gripping . . . The victory of the human spirit shines through Defiance like the sun." --Suzanne Fisher Staples, Newbery Honor-winning author of Shabanu"Emotionally satisfying. Hobbs, a gifted writer, does a quietly effective job of dramatizing the life-affirming power of both poetry and a cross-generational friendship." --Booklist"The wit and wisdom of poetry give this potentially sentimental plot depth and a welcome acidity. Hobb's dry humor is deliciously evident in Pearl's ironic take on things." --The Horn Book"A poetic tale of empowerment with gentle touches of humor." --School Library Journal"This simple, touching story offers great characterization." --Voice of Youth Advocates"This gripping story will send fans searching for this author's previous books." --SIGNAL Journal"A heartwarming story of self-discovery." --A YALSA Teen YA Galley Reader

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