ANN M. MARTIN is the creator of The Baby-sitters Club, which has more than 180 million books in print, making it one of the most popular series in the history of publishing. Her novels include A Corner of the Universe (a Newbery Honor Book), Belle Teal, Here Today, A Dog's Life, On Christmas Eve, and the Main Street and Family Tree series, as well as the much-loved collaborations P.S. Longer Letter Later and Snail Mail No More, with Paula Danziger. Ann lives in upstate New York.
Gr 5-8-Watching home movies, Hattie looks back over the summer of 1960 and the events that changed her perception of life. The 12-year-old has difficulty making friends her own age, but enjoys the company of an elderly boarder, the friendly cook, and her artist father. Her relationship with her mother is sometimes difficult because they must always negotiate clothing and behavior to suit her wealthy, overbearing maternal grandmother. Suddenly, an uncle whom Hattie has never heard of comes to live with her grandparents because his school has closed. Although she is totally shocked at the existence of this rapidly babbling, Lucille Ball-quoting, calendar-savant child in a man's body, Hattie comes to appreciate his affection for her, his exuberance for life, and his courage in facing society's rejection. When she suggests that he sneak out to join her for a night of fun at a carnival, tragedy ensues. Hattie's narration is clear and appealing. Her recollection of the smallest of behaviors shows that each family member has felt both love and pain for her uncle, but could not express it. As she comes to understand what Uncle Adam meant when he spoke of being able to lift the corners of our universe, she is hopeful that her family can learn to heal and communicate. Martin delivers wonderfully real characters and an engrossing plot through the viewpoint of a girl who tries so earnestly to connect with those around her. This is an important story, as evocative on the subject of mental illness as Ruth White's Memories of Summer (Farrar, 2000).-Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Martin (Belle Teal; the Baby-Sitters Club series) hints at a life-changing event from the first paragraph of this novel narrated by a perceptive and compassionate 12-year-old, and set in the summer of 1960. Hattie Owen had been anticipating a summer as comfortably uneventful as all the others ("I just want things all safe and familiar," she admits), helping her mother run their boarding house, painting alongside her artist father and reading "piles" of books. Then Uncle Adam (whom Hattie never knew existed) makes a surprise entrance, turning everything upside-down. Hattie's mother says that Uncle Adam has "mental problems." Hattie's grandparents act embarrassed whenever he is around, and her peers laugh at him. The author authentically conveys the ripples Adam sends through this small town. The heroine is continually amazed by his outlandish antics, moved by his sudden mood changes and secretly wonders if she and Adam might be kindred spirits. Hattie finds adventure and tragedy as well as enlightenment as she "lifts the corners of [her] universe" in order to better understand Adam. With characteristic tenderness and wisdom, the author portrays the complex relationship between the sympathetic heroine and her uncle ("I feel a little like his baby-sitter, a little like his mother, not at all like his niece, and quite a bit like his friend"). Readers will relate to Hattie's fear of being as "different" as Adam, and will admire her willingness to befriend an outcast. Hearts will go out to both Hattie and Adam as they step outside the confines of their familiar world to meet some painful challenges. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
* Martin excels at evoking simply the intricacies of friendship . . . told in the present tense in Hattie's personable voice, the story takes on serious concerns but has equally strong standing as the kind of novel kids mean when they ask for 'a book about friends.' -- Horn Book Magazine, starred review
* This is a fully realized roller coaster of emotions, and
readers take the ride right along with Hattie. -- Booklist,
* With characteristic tenderness and wisdom, the author portrays the complex relationship between the sympathetic heroine and her uncle . . . . Hearts will go out to both Hattie and Adam as they step outside the confines of their familiar world to meet some painful challenges. -- Publishers Weekly, -- starred review * Martin delivers wonderfully real characters and an engrossing plot through the viewpoint of a girl who tries so earnestly to connect with those around her. This is an important story, as evocative on the subject of mental illness as Ruth White's Memories of Summer (Farrar, 2000). -- School Library Journal, starred review * Martin's voice for Hattie is likable, clear, and consistent; her prose doesn't falter. A solid, affecting read. -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
This bittersweet and quiet story of friendship and loss will appeal to younger readers, as well as to those who have carried the title of 'different.' -- Voice of Youth Advocates