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On Sale: July 14, 2009
Pages: 208 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89269-1
Published by : Wendy Lamb Books RH Childrens Books

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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

This remarkable novel holds a fantastic puzzle at its heart.

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it's safe to go, and they know who to avoid. Like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a kid on the street for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda's mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then a mysterious note arrives, scrawled on a tiny slip of paper. The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows things no one should know. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she's too late.

Excerpt

Things You Keep in a Box

So Mom got the postcard today. It says Congratulations in big curly letters, and at the very top is the address of Studio TV-15 on West 58th Street. After three years of trying, she has actually made it. She's going to be a contestant on The $20,000 Pyramid, which is hosted by Dick Clark.

On the postcard there's a list of things to bring. She needs some extra clothes in case she wins and makes it to another show, where they pretend it's the next day even though they really tape five in one afternoon. Barrettes are optional, but she should definitely bring some with her. Unlike me, Mom has glossy red hair that bounces around and might obstruct America's view of her small freckled face.

And then there's the date she's supposed to show up, scrawled in blue pen on a line at the bottom of the card: April 27, 1979. Just like you said.

I check the box under my bed, which is where I've kept your notes these past few months. There it is, in your tiny handwriting: April 27th: Studio TV-15, the words all jerky-looking, like you wrote them on the subway. Your last "proof."

I still think about the letter you asked me to write. It nags at me, even though you're gone and there's no one to give it to anymore. Sometimes I work on it in my head, trying to map out the story you asked me to tell, about everything that happened this past fall and winter. It's all still there, like a movie I can watch when I want to. Which is never.


Things That Go Missing

Mom has swiped a big paper calendar from work and Scotch-taped the month of April to the kitchen wall. She used a fat green marker, also swiped from work, to draw a pyramid on April 27, with dollar signs and exclamation points all around it.

She went out and bought a fancy egg timer that can accurately measure a half minute. They don't have fancy egg timers in the supply closet at her office.

April twenty-seventh is also Richard's birthday. Mom wonders if that's a good omen. Richard is Mom's boyfriend. He and I are going to help Mom practice every single night, which is why I'm sitting at my desk instead of watching after-school TV, which is a birthright of every latchkey child. "Latchkey child" is a name for a kid with keys who hangs out alone after school until a grown-up gets home to make dinner. Mom hates that expression. She says it reminds her of dungeons, and must have been invented by someone strict and awful with an unlimited child-care budget. "Probably someone German," she says, glaring at Richard, who is German but not strict or awful.

It's possible. In Germany, Richard says, I would be one of the Schlusselkinder, which means "key children."

"You're lucky," he tells me. "Keys are power. Some of us have to come knocking." It's true that he doesn't have a key. Well, he has a key to his apartment, but not to ours.

Richard looks the way I picture guys on sailboats--tall, blond, and very tucked-in, even on weekends. Or maybe I picture guys on sailboats that way because Richard loves to sail. His legs are very long, and they don't really fit under our kitchen table, so he has to sit kind of sideways, with his knees pointing out toward the hall. He looks especially big next to Mom, who's short and so tiny she has to buy her belts in the kids' department and make an extra hole in her watchband so it won't fall off her arm.

Mom calls Richard Mr. Perfect because of how he looks and how he knows everything. And every time she calls him Mr. Perfect, Richard taps his right knee. He does that because his right leg is shorter than his left one. All his right-foot shoes have little platforms nailed to the bottom so that his legs match. In bare feet, he limps a little.

"You should be grateful for that leg," Mom tells him. "It's the only reason we let you come around." Richard has been "coming around" for almost two years now.


We have exactly twenty-one days to get Mom ready for the game show. So instead of watching television, I'm copying words for her practice session tonight. I write each word on one of the white index cards Mom swiped from work. When I have seven words, I bind the cards together with a rubber band she also swiped from work.

I hear Mom's key in the door and flip over my word piles so she can't peek.
"Miranda?" She clomps down the hall--she's on a clog kick lately--and sticks her head in my room. "Are you starving? I thought we'd hold dinner for Richard."

"I can wait." The truth is I've just eaten an entire bag of Cheez Doodles. After-school junk food is another fundamental right of the latchkey child. I'm sure this is true in Germany, too.

"You're sure you're not hungry? Want me to cut up an apple for you?"

"What's a kind of German junk food?" I ask her. "Wiener crispies?"

She stares at me. "I have no idea. Why do you ask?"

"No reason."

"Do you want the apple or not?"

"No, and get out of here--I'm doing the words for later."

"Great." She smiles and reaches into her coat pocket. "Catch." She lobs something toward me, and I grab what turns out to be a bundle of brand-new markers in rainbow colors, held together with a fat rubber band. She clomps back toward the kitchen.

Richard and I figured out a while ago that the more stuff Mom swipes from the office supply closet, the more she's hating work. I look at the markers for a second and then get back to my word piles.

Mom has to win this money.


From the Hardcover edition.
Rebecca Stead

About Rebecca Stead

Rebecca Stead - When You Reach Me
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

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2009:
"[W]hen all the sidewalk characters from Miranda's Manhattan world converge amid mind-blowing revelations and cunning details, teen readers will circle back to the beginning and say,'Wow ... cool.'"

Starred Review, Booklist, June 1, 2009:
"[T]he mental gymnastics required of readers are invigorating; and the characters, children, and adults are honest bits of humanity no matter in what place or time their souls rest."

Starred Review, The Horn Book Magazine, July & August, 2009:
"Closing revelations are startling and satisfying but quietly made, their reverberations giving plenty of impetus for the reader to go back to the beginning and catch what was missed."

Starred Review, School Library Journal, July 2009:
"This unusual, thought-provoking mystery will appeal to several types of readers."

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, June 22, 2009:
"It's easy to imagine readers studying Miranda's story as many times as she's read L'Engle's, and spending hours pondering the provocative questions it raises."

Review, People Magazine, July 13, 2009:
"Absorbing."

Review, The Wall Street Journal, July 17, 2009:
"Readers ... are likely to find themselves chewing over the details of this superb and intricate tale long afterward."

Review, The Washington Post Book World, July 15, 2009:
“Incandescent.”

Review, The New York Times Book Review, August 16, 2009:
"Smart and mesmerizing."


From the Hardcover edition.

Awards

WINNER 2009 Kid's Indie Next List "Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers"
WINNER 2009 New York Times Notable Book
WINNER 2009 Kirkus Reviews Best ChildrenÂ’s Books
WINNER 2009 Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book of the Year
WINNER 2009 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
WINNER 2009 Booklist Children's Editors' Choice
WINNER 2009 Horn Book Fanfare
WINNER 2009 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold Award
WINNER 2009 Parents' Choice Gold Award
WINNER 2009 Book Links Lasting Connection
WINNER 2010 Newbery Medal Winner
WINNER 2010 ALA Notable Children's Book
WINNER 2010 ALA Best Books for Young Adults Top 10
WINNER 2010 NCSS/CBC Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies
WINNER 2010 Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices
WINNER 2010 NCTE Notable Children's Trade Books in the Language Arts
WINNER 2010 IRA Children's Book Award for Older Readers
NOMINEE 2011 Hawaii Nene Award
NOMINEE 2010 Wyoming Indian Paintbrush Master List
WINNER New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
WINNER ALA Best Books for Young Adults
WINNER Chicago Public LibraryÂ’s Best of the Best books
NOMINEE Amelia Bloomer List Recommended Title
NOMINEE Maine Student Book Award
NOMINEE Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Award
WINNER Texas Lone Star Reading List
NOMINEE Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fischer Book Award
NOMINEE Missouri Gateway Readers Award
NOMINEE Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award
NOMINEE Virginia Young Readers Program Award
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