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Stephanie S. Tolan is the author of more than twenty-five books for young readers, including Listen!, which won the Christopher Award and the Henry Bergh ASPCA Award. Her New York Times bestselling novel Surviving the Applewhites received a Newbery Honor and was named a Smithsonian Notable Children's Book, a School Library Journal Best Book for Children, an ALA Booklist Editor's Choice, an American Library Association Notable Children's Book, and an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults. Tolan has left her home by the small lake in a big woods of North Carolina and now lives in the Hudson River Valley of upstate New York with a view of the Catskills Mountains and the prospect of wintertime cross country skiing. You can visit her online at www.stephanietolan.com.
Gr 5-8-In this laugh-out-loud novel, a young teen on the fast track to the juvenile detention center suddenly finds himself living in rural North Carolina with the outrageously eccentric Applewhite clan. Jake Semple, 13, has been expelled from a long line of schools before coming to the Applewhites to be homeschooled. This extended family forms what a visiting reporter christens an "artistic dynasty," with various creative endeavors absorbing the adults' time and attention. Jake is left largely to his own devices, since the family doesn't believe in telling their charges what or when to study. He develops a loyal following consisting of an active four-year-old and an overweight basset hound, and his transformation is complete once he becomes enmeshed in the family's production of The Sound of Music. Quirky characters, from the cub reporter to the visiting guru, add to the offbeat humor. The Applewhites' over-the-top personalities mark them as literary kin of Helen Cresswell's Bagthorpes. Running beneath the narrative that gently pokes fun at everything from sculpture to TV documentaries, though, is also the story of a boy allowing himself to belong and begin to discover his own potential. This has terrific booktalk and read-aloud potential, and will help fill the need for humorous contemporary fiction.-Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
"Tolan has pulled off something special here."----Booklist (starred review)