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  • 100 Cupboards
  • Written by N. D. Wilson
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Book 1 of the 100 Cupboards

Written by N. D. WilsonAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by N. D. Wilson



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List Price: $6.99

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On Sale: December 26, 2007
Pages: 304 | ISBN: 978-0-375-84986-2
Published by : Random House Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books

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Read by Russell Horton
On Sale: December 26, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7393-6277-8
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE & AWARDS PRAISE & AWARDS
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Twelve-year-old Henry York wakes up one night to find bits of plaster in his hair. Two knobs have broken through the wall above his bed and one of them is slowly turning . . .Henry scrapes the plaster off the wall and discovers cupboards of all different sizes and shapes. Through one he can hear the sound of falling rain. Through another he sees a glowing room–with a man pacing back and forth! Henry soon understands that these are not just cupboards, but portals to other worlds.

100 Cupboards is the first book of a new fantasy adventure, written in the best world-hopping tradition and reinvented in N. D. Wilson’s inimitable style.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

Henry, Kansas, is a hot town. And a cold town. It is a town so still there are times when you can hear a fly trying to get through the window of the locked-up antique store on Main Street. Nobody remembers who owns the antique store, but if you press your face against the glass, like the fly, you'll see that whoever they are, they don't have much beyond a wide variety of wagon wheels. Yes, Henry is a still town. But there have been tornadoes on Main Street. If the wind blows, it's like it won't ever stop. Once it's stopped, there seems to be no hope of getting it started again.
There is a bus station in Henry, but it isn't on Main Street. It's one block north--the town fathers hadn't wanted all the additional traffic. The station lost one- third of its roof to a tornado fifteen years ago. In the same summer, a bottle rocket brought the gift of fire to its restrooms. The damage has never been repaired, but the town council makes sure that the building is painted fresh every other year, and always the color of a swimming pool. There is never graffiti. Vandals would have to drive more than twenty miles to buy the spray paint.

Every once in a long while, a bus creeps into town and eases to a stop beside the mostly roofed, bright aqua station with the charred bathrooms. Henry is always glad to see a bus. Such treats are rare.

On this day, the day our story begins, bus hopes were high. The Willis family was expecting their nephew, and the mister and missus stood on the curb waiting for his arrival.

Mrs. Willis couldn't hold nearly as still as the town. She was brimful of nervous energy and busily stepped on and off the curb as if she were waiting for the bus to take her off to another lifetime of grammar school and jump rope. She had planned to wear her best dress on principle--it was the sort of thing her mother would have done--but she had no idea which of her dresses was best, or how to begin the selection process. It was even possible that she didn't have a dress that was best.
So she had remained in her sweatpants and T-shirt. She had been canning in her kitchen and looked pleasant despite the faded teal of her pants. Her face was steam-ruddied and happy, and her brown hair, which had originally been pulled back into a ponytail, had struggled free. On this day, if you got close enough, as her nephew would when hugged, she smelled very strongly of peaches. She was of medium build in every direction, and she was called Dotty by her friends, Dots by her husband, and Mrs. Willis by everyone else.

People liked Dotty. They said she was interesting. They rarely did the same for her husband. They said Mr. Willis was thin, and they didn't just mean physically thin. They meant thin everywhere and every way. Dotty saw much more than thin, and she liked him. Frank Willis didn't seem to notice much of anything beyond that.
Mrs. Willis stopped her stepping and backed away from the curb. Something was shimmering on the highway. The bus was coming. She nudged Frank and pointed. He didn't seem to notice.

The Henry on the bus was not a town in Kansas. He was simply a twelve-year-old boy on a slow bus from Boston, waiting to meet an aunt and uncle he had not seen since the age of four. He was not looking forward to reuniting with Aunt Dotty and Uncle Frank. Not because he in any way disliked them, but because he had led a life that had taught him not to look forward to anything.

The bus stopped amid a shower of metallic grunts. Henry walked to the front, said goodbye to a talkative old woman, and stepped onto the curb into a lung-taste of diesel. The bus lurched off, the taste faded, and he found that he was being held tight by someone rather soft, though not large, and the smell of diesel had been replaced by peaches. His aunt held him back by the shoulders, her smile faded, and she became suddenly serious.

"We are both so sorry about your parents," she said. She was diligently eye-wrestling him. Henry couldn't quite look away. "But we are very happy you're going to be staying with us. Your cousins are all excited."

Someone patted Henry on the shoulder. He looked up.

"Yep," Uncle Frank said. He was watching the bus march out the other end of town.

"The truck's over here," he added, and gestured with his head.

Uncle Frank carried Henry's duffel bag while Aunt Dotty escorted him to the truck, one arm tightly wrapped around his shoulder. It was an old truck. A few decades earlier, it may have been a Ford. Then it had been donated as a shop-class project to Henry High. Uncle Frank bought it at an end-of-the-year fundraiser. The paint was scum brown, the sort that normally hides at the bottom of a pond, attractive only to leeches and easily pleased frogs. The class had not been able to afford the bigger wheels they had dreamed of, so they had simply lifted the truck body as high as the instructor would allow. The overall effect was one of startling ricketiness. Henry's bag was thrown into the truck bed.

"Hop in," Uncle Frank said, and pointed in the back. "The tailgate doesn't drop, so just stand on the tire there and hoick yourself over. I'll boost you a bit."

Henry stood on the tire and teetered for a moment, trying to get one leg over the edge of the truck bed. Uncle Frank pushed him from behind, and he tumbled in onto his side.


From the Hardcover edition.
N. D. Wilson

About N. D. Wilson

N. D. Wilson - 100 Cupboards
Stories have always been in my life. I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t listening to a story or being read to. When I was two, my father read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to the family after dinner (the family at that point consisted of my mother, my older sister, and myself). My mother was fairly certain that I didn’t understand any of it. My father, however, pointed to scientific evidence: during the battle scenes, I always turned bright red and began sweating nervously in my high chair.
Once, while I was misbehaving in my bath (it only happened once), my older sister was commissioned to tell me a story. She began to recite the beginning of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe verbatim. Which should tell you how often we’d heard it.
At nights, my mother would compose stories for me (stories that she falsely insists were awful–mostly about a gentleman named Tiny Tim). I don’t remember any particular tale, but I do remember what they did to me, as I lay in bed, clutching Billy, my stuffed, hybrid monkey-bear, staring at the sloped ceiling in my room and listening to my mother’s voice and the washing machine chugging in the corner (yes, the washing machine was in my room). My father once wrote me a story, bound it in a blue folder, and read it to me. The story starred a young fellow who happened to share my name (Nathan), and who also happened to kill a goblin king with his baseball bat (something I still intend to do). I am extremely fond of that story, and I pay tribute to it with elements in both Leepike Ridge and 100 Cupboards (a character trapped underground, the handiness of baseball bats, a grub-eating wizard, and a couple other things that only my father and I will know about).
My grandfathers were both storytellers. Both were military men, and both lived through some truly strange experiences. Growing up in San Louis Obispo, my mom’s dad hunted small sharks with a modified garden hoe somewhere around the ripe old age of ten. He flew bombers in World War II and Korea, and I’ve watched old home movies of some of his bombing runs. I’ve also watched home movies of him sneaking onto the roof of the Vatican with his then eight-year-old son (my uncle Bob). To this day, when I’m with him, he can surprise me with new stories.
As for my dad’s dad, well, he was raised on a Nebraska farm. His parents (and, I believe, his older brother) had moved there in a covered wagon. But it was a posh covered wagon–rolling on cutting-edge rubber tires.
For as long as I remember, my grandfather has been traveling, returning, and telling stories. At a very early age, I announced to my parents that when I grew up, I was going to be like Grandpa and tell everyone about my trip. The only problem is that my trips haven’t been as interesting.
There’s a reason why I dedicated 100 Cupboards to my grandfathers. They both infused my (fantasy-drifting) imagination with a taste for real-world adventure. 100 Cupboards is what happens when those things are thoroughly blended together (along with milk and sugar).
I live in Idaho, and I love the west, the rolling hills and vast, empty places. I grew up here, playing in those fields, floating in creeks, climbing in old barn lofts, and sledding (contrary to wisdom and the instruction of my elders) across frozen ponds. After graduate school in Maryland, I moved back. I currently live one block from the hospital where I was born, the hospital where all my kids have been born (one even in the same room).
I should tell you about my wife. I first heard her name spoken (Heather Garaway) while visiting home during grad school. My brother-in-law had briefly met her (and a number of other people) while visiting Santa Cruz, California. When he said her name it had a rather strange effect on me. It didn’t make me starry-eyed or mushy-stomached. It made me nervous, like I needed to look over my shoulder because I was about to be hit by a bus. My life was going to change.
I like to think of myself as rational. But while a friend drove me back to the airport, I took him as a witness to my strange sensation. That was at the beginning of October. Back in Maryland, I had an e-mail waiting for me from her. A friend of hers was attending the same school I was and he needed a place to live. On Halloween, I met her (she was traveling to Ireland and had a layover in Maryland). Just after Thanksgiving, I asked her to marry me. She was a globe-trotting surfer (and had just surfed her first pro contest when we met). And she said yes because she loved stories (and apparently me), and she knew what all her favorite characters in books would have done. She moved inland for me, but the saltwater is still in her veins. We have four beautiful children and she will teach them all to surf.
Her hair smells like rain, and it clings to my face like Velcro when I kiss her.
I love stories. I love finding them. I love telling them. I’m doing my best to live them. I couldn’t be more grateful for the life I’ve been given.
Praise | Awards

Praise

“Well crafted and gratifying.”—School Library Journal

“A highly imaginative tale.”—Kirkus Reviews


From the Hardcover edition.

Awards

WINNER 2008 Book Sense Children's Pick List

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