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Step by Wicked Step


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About the Author

Anne Fine is one of our most distinguished writers for children. She has written over fifty highly acclaimed books and has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and both the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year and the Carnegie Medal twice over. Anne was appointed the Children's Laureate from 2001-3, and her work has been translated into over forty languages. In 2003 she became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was awarded an OBE. Anne lives in County Durham.

Anne Fine was born and educated in the Midlands, and now lives in County Durham. She has written numerous highly acclaimed and prize-winning books for children and adults.

Her novel The Tulip Touch won the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year Award; Goggle-Eyes won the Guardian Children's Fiction Award and the Carnegie Medal, and was adapted for television by the BBC; Flour Babies won the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year Award; Bill's New Frock won a Smarties Prize, and Madame Doubtfire has become a major feature film starring Robin Williams. Anne was the Children's Laureate 2001 - 2003 and won an OBE in 2003.


In classic thriller fashion, it is a wild and stormy night when five British schoolchildren arrive ahead of their classmates for a week-long field trip at "haunted" Old Harwick Hall. With the aid of flashes of lightning, the two girls and three boys find a long-abandoned secret room containing a mysterious journal. All signs point to a ghost story, but Fine (Alias Madame Doubtfire; Flour Babies) adroitly sidesteps the obvious. The story recounted in the journal, about a boy who runs away from the sinister influence of a loveless stepfather, inspires the five students, all of whom also have "steps," or step-parents, to share their own sagas. And what engrossing, heartrending stories they are: of hurting but still humorous kids picking their way through a minefield of embittered or uncommunicative-or just plain immature-parents, insecure or reluctant stepparents and resentful step-siblings. Fine has an uncanny gift for dialogue, and her protagonists voice subtle perceptions in the clearest and most natural of terms. She wrests the fullest emotions from her scenarios, presenting daily life in all its comedy and drama. An immensely humane work. Ages 10-up. (May)

Gr 4-7‘The tantalizing title and eerie opening will immediately pull readers into this skillfully crafted story. In fact, this novel is really five stories within a story that are induced by a story, like a nesting puzzle. When five school kids are sent ahead to a class overnight in a spooky house, they discover a hidden tower room that contains an old, dusty album, written by Richard Clayton Harwick, labeled "Read and weep." As they read Richard's sad tale of how he made the decision to leave home because of his dislike for his stepfather, it triggers the realization of why the five of them were grouped together. Their names were asterisked on the bus list because each one had to put two addresses on the permission slip for the trip; each of them has divorced or remarried parents. As Rob, Colin, Ralph, Claudia, and Pixie tell their stories, comprehension and compassion for the problems, fears, and concerns children face in similar family situations today fall into place step-by-step, story-by-story. These kids are genuine, their stories are poignant, and the book as a whole is affecting without being maudlin, didactic, or bibliotherapeutic. "Fine" writing and a surefire success, like the author's earlier efforts.‘Julie Cummins, New York Public Library

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