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Author: Phillips, Gin
When twelve-year-old Nell and her best friend, Lydia, are forbidden to see each other, they hatch a plan to spend their summer days in an abandoned miniature golf course, where they soon find others in search of a home.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG+
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: 7.0 Quiz: 158599
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 4.60
Points: 14.0 Quiz: 60796
Kirkus Reviews (05/01/13)
School Library Journal (07/01/13)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (07/13)
The Hornbook (00/09/13)
Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 07/01/2013 Home is a disturbing place for sixth-grader Nell, whose mercurial mother switches randomly between gentleness and fury; in fact, Nell’s mother is so intemperate that Nell’s best friend, Lydia, is now forbidden to spend time with Nell. To get around this prohibition, Nell concocts a plan: she and Lydia will fake-attend summer school and summer day camp but actually spend their days together at Lodema, the abandoned golf course/resort near their houses. Their summer there is a blissful, if sweltering, idyll as they find fascinating features, like playground sprinklers and old towers, to explore. They also find Gloria and her children, who’ve been living on the old course since they lost their home; as Nell bonds with kind, motherly Gloria, however, Lydia becomes jealous of their closeness and unhappy that the summer plans for the two friends together have turned into something else. Phillips’ prose is both fluid and plainspoken, evocative in a way easily accessible to preteen readers; her Alabama golf course is a blend of secret garden and Crusoe-esque island, simultaneously giving her protagonists both peace and adventure. While what happens outside of the golf course isn’t as compelling, the book sensitively prioritizes Nell’s new appreciation of her seemingly ferocious friend’s vulnerability over changes in the home Nell largely abandoned. Just about every kid wants a special place all his or her own, so readers will easily warm to Nell’s story and look hopefully around their own neighborhoods for an equivalent local paradise. DS - Copyright 2013 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 07/01/2013 Gr 5–7—In contemporary Birmingham, Alabama, sixth-grader Nell has been coping with her mother's emotional volatility and neglect, adjusting to a sequence of stepfathers, and having only alternate-weekend contact with her preoccupied dad. Loving grandparents and a best friend have helped, but now she and Lydia are forbidden to see each other because of a disagreement between their mothers. Nell convinces Lydia to deceive their parents into thinking they are going to remedial summer school; instead they spend their days at an abandoned golf course, setting up camp inside a huge dinosaur statue on the putt-putt green. But a rift develops between them when they discover a homeless family living at Hole Nine, and Nell is drawn to the mother's kindness and interest in her. Lydia leaves, and when Nell helps a boy during a Fourth of July sparkler fire, she begins to confront the reality of her situation and to recognize the steps she must take to face the challenges of her life. The first-person narrative, if sometimes self-conscious, still effectively conveys a strong sense of place and the conflict of a sympathetic protagonist, but some plot elements strain credibility and most characters are insufficiently developed. Nevertheless, readers will be gratified that Nell's resolve and courage in ultimately standing up for herself result in a hopeful conclusion.—Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY - Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.