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On Sale: May 11, 2010
Pages: 352 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89647-7
Published by : Delacorte Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books

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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
AWARDS AWARDS
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

From Louis Sachar, New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Newbery Medal for HOLES, comes the young adult novel THE CARDTURNER, an exploration of the human condition.
 
How are we supposed to be partners? He can’t see the cards and I don’t know the rules!
 
The summer after junior year of high school looks bleak for Alton Richards. His girlfriend has dumped him to hook up with his best friend. He has no money and no job. His parents insist that he drive his great-uncle Lester to his bridge club four times a week and be his cardturner—whatever that means. Alton’s uncle is old, blind, very sick, and very rich.
 
But Alton’s parents aren’t the only ones trying to worm their way into Lester Trapp’s good graces. They’re in competition with his longtime housekeeper, his alluring young nurse, and the crazy Castaneda family, who seem to have a mysterious influence over him.
 
Alton soon finds himself intrigued by his uncle, by the game of bridge, and especially by the pretty and shy Toni Castaneda. As the summer goes on, he struggles to figure out what it all means, and ultimately to figure out the meaning of his own life.
 
Through Alton’s wry observations, Louis Sachar explores the disparity between what you know and what you think you know. With his incomparable flair and inventiveness, he examines the elusive differences between perception and reality—and inspires readers to think and think again.

Excerpt

1    
My Favorite Uncle    

Ever since I was a little kid, I've had it drilled into me that my uncle Lester was my favorite uncle. My mother would thrust the phone at me and say, "Uncle Lester wants to talk to you," her voice infused with the same forced enthusiasm she used to describe the deliciousness of canned peas. "Tell him you love him."  

"I love you, Uncle Lester," I'd say.  

"Tell him he's your favorite uncle."  

"You're my favorite uncle."  

It got worse as I got older. I never knew what to say to him, and he never seemed all that interested in talking to me. When I became a teenager I felt silly telling him he was my favorite uncle, although my mother still urged me to do so. I'd say things like "Hey, how's it goin'?" and he'd grunt some response. He might ask me a question about school. I imagine it was a great relief to both of us when my mother took back the phone. Our brief conversations always left me feeling embarrassed, and just a little bit creepy.  

He was actually my great-uncle, having been my mother's favorite uncle long before he was mine.  

I didn't know how much money he had, but he was rich enough that he never had to be nice to anyone. Our favorite uncle never visited us, and I think my mother initiated all the phone conversations with him. Later, after he got really sick, he wouldn't even talk to her. My mother would call almost daily, but she could never get past his housekeeper.   I had only met Uncle Lester face to face one time, at his sixty-fifth birthday party. I was six years old, and to me, his house seemed like a castle on a mountaintop. I said the obligatory "Happy birthday" and "I love you" and "You're my favorite uncle" and then steered clear of him.  

"His heart is as cold as a brick," my father said on the drive home.  

That phrase has stuck with me, I think, because my father used the word cold instead of hard.  

My elementary school was a brick building. Every day on the way home, I would drag my fingers over the hard, and yes, cold surface.  

I'm in high school now, but still whenever I walk by a brick building, I feel compelled to touch it. Even now, as I write this, I can almost feel the hard coolness, the sharp edges, and the roughness of the cement between the bricks.       


From the Hardcover edition.
Louis Sachar

About Louis Sachar

Louis Sachar - The Cardturner

Photo © Perry Hagopian

Newbery Award–winning author Louis Sachar is the creator of the entertaining Marvin Redpost books as well as the much-loved There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom, winner of 17 child-voted state awards.

Louis Sachar’s book Holes, winner of the 1999 Newbery Medal, the National Book Award, and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, is also an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an ALA Quick Pick, an ALA Notable Book, and was made into a major motion picture.

A Few Words From Louis Sachar
Of all the characters from Holes, why did you choose to revisit Armpit in SMALL STEPS?
LS: I tend to write about underdogs. It seemed to me that life would be tough for an African-American teenager from a low-income family with a criminal record. Especially someone stuck with the name, "Armpit."
Although this new book is about a character from Holes, the two books are very different. How would you explain to a fan of Holes what to expect from SMALL STEPS?
LS: I can't. I'm no good at describing my books. Holes has been out now for seven years, and I still can't come up with a good answer when asked what that book is about.
Could you imagine future novels about any of the other boys?
Do you think about what Stanley is up to now?
LS: I don't think too much about Stanley or Zero. I left them in a good place. Although money doesn't bring happiness, or give meaning to someone's life, the problems Stanley and Zero face now (and I'm sure they do face many problems) are less interesting than those faced by someone like Armpit.
Plenty of teenagers fantasize about what it would be like to be a young rock star.
You portray it as lonely. Tell us about that decision.
LS: The media tends to portray the teenage world as one where drinking and sex is taken for granted. In fact, I think most teenagers don't drink, are unsure of themselves, and feel awkward around members of the opposite sex. I thought it was important to show Kaira, a rock star no less, as such a person. Her situation, in many ways, is made more difficult as she has no social contact with anyone her age. She is trapped in a world of agents, record producers, and hanger-ons.
I'm imagining that off all the books you've written, Holes is the one that has changed your life the most. Not only did it win the Newbery Medal, it's also simply a popular sensation. Is this assessment accurate? What is this novel's continuing impact on your life? Would you consider it the book that you are proudest of?
LS: Not counting Small Steps, I think Holes is my best book, in terms of plot, and setting, and the way the story revealed itself. It hasn't changed my life, other than that I have more money than I did before I wrote it. I'm still too close to Small Steps to compare it to Holes.
Why do you typically write only two hours each day?
LS: Small steps. Every time I start a new novel it seems like an impossible undertaking. If I tried to do too much too quickly, I would get lost and feel overwhelmed. I have to go slow, and give things a chance to take form and grow.



PRAISE

THE BOY WHO LOST HIS FACE
“Readers will empathize with David’s troubles and cheer his triumph in this delightful, funny book.”—Publishers Weekly


DOGS DON’T TELL JOKES
“Readers will laugh at Gary’s good jokes and groan at his clunkers while they cheer his transformation from goon to legitimate comedian.”—Booklist


HOLES

—A Newbery Medal Winner
—A National Book Award for Young People’s Literature Award Winner
—A Boston Globe–Horn Book Award Winner for Fiction
—An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
—An ALA Notable Children’s Book
—An ALA Quick Pick
—A Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book
—A Horn Book Fanfare
—A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
—A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
—A New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of the Year

“We haven’t seen a book with this much plot, so suspensefully and expertly deployed, in too long a time. . . . Louis Sachar has long been a great and deserved favorite among children, despite the benign neglect of critics. But Holes is witness to its own theme: what goes around, comes around. Eventually.”—Starred, The Horn Book Magazine

“A multitude of colorful characters coupled with the skillful braiding of ethnic folklore, American legend, and contemporary issues is a brilliant achievement. There is no question, kids will love Holes.”—Starred, School Library Journal


MARVIN REDPOST: WHY PICK ON ME?
“The hilarious portrayal of grade-school relationships has tremendous child appeal.”—The Horn Book Magazine


MARVIN REDPOST: IS HE A GIRL?
“Sachar writes for beginning readers with a comic simplicity that is never banal. Here he gets a lot of fun out of the identity confusion, and kids will love the frankness about grade-school gender wars and social taboos.”—Booklist


MARVIN REDPOST: ALONE IN HIS TEACHER’S HOUSE
“Sachar’s finely tuned sense of how children think and feel make this fourth book about Marvin and his comic misadventures entertaining.”—The Horn Book Magazine


MARVIN REDPOST: A FLYING BIRTH DAY CAKE?
“Clipped sentences and short paragraphs are not only just right for new readers, they’re just right for the story-a smart, funny mist on the new-kid theme, reminding us that everyone feels alienated at one time or another.”—The Horn Book Magazine


THERE’S A BOY IN THE GIRLS’ BATHROOM
“A humorous and immensely appealing story.”—Kirkus Reviews

Awards

Awards

WINNER ALA Best Books for Young Adults
FINALIST Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices
WINNER NCSS/CBC Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies
NOMINEE Pacific Northwest Young Readers Choice Award
NOMINEE Nebraska Golden Sower Award
NOMINEE Arizona Young Readers Award
WINNER Young Adult Services Division, School Library Journal Author Award
FINALIST Bank Street Child Study Children's Book Award

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