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  • First Light
  • Written by Rebecca Stead
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  • Written by Rebecca Stead
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  • First Light
  • Written by Rebecca Stead
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307495471
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First Light

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Written by Rebecca SteadAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Rebecca Stead



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List Price: $6.99

eBook

On Sale: December 18, 2008
Pages: 336 | ISBN: 978-0-307-49547-1
Published by : Yearling RH Childrens Books

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Read by David Ackroyd and Coleen Marlo
On Sale: April 13, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-307-71065-9
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Read by David Ackroyd and Coleen Marlo
On Sale: April 13, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-307-71066-6
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE & AWARDS PRAISE & AWARDS
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

PETER IS THRILLED to leave New York City to accompany his parents on an expedition to Greenland to study global warming. There he has visions of things that should be too far away for him to see.

Generations ago, the people of Thea’s community were hunted for possessing unusual abilities, so they fled beneath the ice. Thea needs help that only Peter can give. Their meeting reveals secrets of both their pasts, and changes the future for them both forever.

Excerpt

One

Most boys his age had never touched paper. There was little left. Paper was reserved for fine drawing and important documents. Mattias knew even before he could skate that if he were to harm any of it, if he were to crease one corner of one sheet, the consequences would be serious. But Mattias could not resist his mother’s drawing table. He loved the drawers and panels that opened almost without a sound, the bright vials of dye, the immaculate brushes on their small rack, the smooth wooden box of charcoal. And although he was a very obedient boy in almost every other way, he regularly explored the contents of the table when he found himself alone with it. Mattias knew its every measure, including the shape of the black dye stain that had dried inside one drawer before he was born. And each time he approached the table, he expected to find it exactly as he had always found it before.
Today he found something new.
It was a thick paper envelope, closed but unsealed, underneath his mother’s working sketches. Mattias unwound the string closure slowly, being careful to remember the length that should be left hanging when he tied it again. Inside was a square of paper unlike anything Mattias had ever seen. One side of the square glowed with an image in color, almost as if someone had frozen a moment in time and flattened it, capturing every detail. Even his mother, considered the most talented artist now alive, couldn’t create anything like this. Mattias turned it carefully in his hands, holding the square by its sharp corners. It was an image of two women. Sisters, he thought. And there was something else–a glowing blur behind them.
The sun.


Seven Years Later

A headache, Peter thought as he lay in bed with one arm thrown over his eyes, is something you have to experience to understand. No one can describe a headache to someone who has never had one. He rolled to one side and reached for the little spiral notebook on his night table.
Peter’s mother had gotten headaches for as long as he could remember. They sometimes lasted for days, during which she sat in the red chair next to the pull-out couch where his parents slept. She didn’t eat, or laugh, or make the “proper supper” she otherwise insisted upon. She hardly got up at all. “She’s gone away again,” his father would say. “But she’ll be back.” It happened maybe twice a year.
Everyone said how much Peter was like his mother– their skin that was nearly paper white, their all-over freckles, their wavy hair (hers dark, his blond like his father’s), even the way they sneezed (always twice), and laughed (very quietly, after one loud sort of bark). So Peter had always assumed that, like his mother, he would get headaches one day, and that, when he did, they would be headaches just like hers.
Peter paged through the worn notebook. It had his friends’ phone numbers in it, and the names of some video games he wanted if his parents ever let him get a video game, and the address of a company in Oregon that sold old radio parts for almost no money, and a bunch of other things. He flipped to the inside back cover, where he had made a series of slashes.
Just after his twelfth birthday, Peter’s mother began asking him whether he had a headache. She had never asked him that before, and he couldn’t help thinking it was strange she had to ask at all. Wouldn’t it be obvious when he had a headache? Wouldn’t he, too, sit in the living room and never smile or get hungry? But she kept asking, every week or two, always smiling carefully, as if she were expecting bad news. So they waited, together.
Peter got his first headache a few months later. He knew right away what it was, and three things surprised him about it. First, it lasted only a few hours. Second, although it hurt some, he was able to eat the same salt-and-vinegar potato chips he bought after school every day. Third, he didn’t tell his mother about it.
The only person he told was Miles. He and Miles had been in the same class every year since kindergarten. They knew everything about each other. For instance, Peter knew that Miles only pretended to hate the two stepsisters who lived uptown with Miles’s father and stepmother. The truth was that Miles liked them, and that he liked his Monday and Friday nights at his dad’s– he liked how the apartment was full of life, with friends coming and going, and teasing at dinner, and the way they always ate oranges and popcorn while they watched TV together.
And Miles knew that Peter was afraid to tell his mother about his first headache because it had brought him a little closer to knowing what he had already half-known for years: that his mother’s headaches were not headaches at all, but something else entirely. Something she didn’t want to talk about. Something like sadness.
Then Peter had more headaches. He took the stub of a pencil from where he had wedged it into the spiral of his little notebook and made a mark next to the others. He counted to himself, slowly. His ninth. In a month. He replaced the notebook on the table and rolled over so he could look through the skylight next to his bed.


From the Hardcover edition.
Rebecca Stead

About Rebecca Stead

Rebecca Stead - First Light
The Search for Magic

I've been on the lookout for magic for as long as I can remember. When I was young, I regularly tested myself to see whether my incipient magical powers had arrived. For some reason I can't now remember, the test itself was always the same: I would close my eyes and attempt to conjure a tiny swimming pool (the ultimate wish for a city kid, perhaps). I imagined that the pool would have a bright blue liner and a twisty slide about the right size for a baby gerbil. I was a strange kid–or at least one who was open to the world's possibilities.

As I got older, I performed the swimming-pool test less and less often. Meanwhile, I read more and more books. I was accepting what wasn't possible and learning at the same time what was.

Books were portals for me. I loved to read them, but hated to talk about them with anyone. The truth is that I hated to acknowledge that other people had read them, that they had walked through those same doors, met those same people, ridden those same dragons, and afterward sat down at those same tables and eaten those same snacks. It was, for me, a terrible violation of privacy.

Like so many passionate readers, I decided to try to write a book of my own–to open one of those magical doors myself. It turned out to be very hard. The door did not spring open at my touch the way I'd secretly hoped it would. The knob was greasy and the frame had swelled in the heat. But as I struggled with it, I caught a few glimpses of what was on the other side–snow, and dogs, and people flying by on ice skates. And those images kept me from giving up.

The wonderful thing about writing fiction is that you can be inspired by the real world without being limited by its facts. You are allowed to imagine and embellish (particularly when one of your main characters inhabits an invented world of ice). I decided that my story took place in Greenland, where dog sledding is part of everyday life, and suddenly I had a cast of dogs. I discovered that a glacier could conceal a freshwater lake. I read about fireflies and learned that their light is triggered by oxygen. A glaciologist told me how to scare a polar bear with a flare gun, and why he loved his bread maker. And then I made a few things up.

With help from several people, I got that first door open. Now I'm standing in front of another one. This time it's locked, and the bolt feels a little bit rusty. But if you need to find me, that's where I'll be.
Praise | Awards

Praise

“Peter and Thea are vividly realized. . . . Gracehope itself is sketched with sure strokes, its icy setting and its matriarchal social structure fresh and believable.”—The Horn Book Magazine

“Stead’s debut novel rests on an intriguing premise. . . . It is a testament to the storytelling that the existence of this parallel world and the convergence of Peter and Thea’s stories, told in separate chapters, are both credible and absorbing. Young readers will find this a journey worth taking.”—Publishers Weekly

Awards

WINNER 2008 Texas Lone Star Reading List
WINNER 2007 Parents' Choice Award
WINNER 2007 Book Sense Children's Pick List
NOMINEE 2011 Washington Sasquatch Reading Program Master List
WINNER Bank Street Child Study Children's Book Award
NOMINEE IRA Children's Book Award for Younger Readers
WINNER New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age
NOMINEE Rhode Island Children's Book Award
NOMINEE Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Award
NOMINEE Oklahoma Sequoyah Children's Book Award
NOMINEE Texas Lone Star Reading List
NOMINEE Florida Sunshine State Book Award
NOMINEE Virginia Young Readers Program Award

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