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  • Up on Cloud Nine
  • Written by Anne Fine
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307492432
  • Our Price: $4.99
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Up on Cloud Nine

Written by Anne FineAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Anne Fine


List Price: $4.99


On Sale: March 04, 2009
Pages: 160 | ISBN: 978-0-307-49243-2
Published by : Yearling RH Childrens Books
Up on Cloud Nine Cover

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Ian’s best friend, Stolly, is up on cloud nine. He’s in the hospital, unconscious, and hooked up to machines. The question Ian is trying to answer is: How did Stolly end up there?

In a way, Stolly’s always been on cloud nine, living life by his own rules and making those rules up as he goes along. His parents’ careers have them constantly rushing around, so Ian’s family has all but adopted Stolly. That’s why it’s up to Ian to figure out what happened to his best friend. But once the pieces start coming together, the answer doesn’t seem to make any sense.

From the Trade Paperback edition.


Stol's Laid Out . . .

Stol's laid out on this strange bed-trolley thing. He might as well be waiting for his funeral. There's no blood in his face. No twitching or rolling. He's just a slab of dead meat on a hospital bed. I'm pretending I can't see the tube going in and the tube coming out. Or hear the pumping noises, and the occasional shlup!, like the sheep getting squashed by the hay bales in Farm Freak!

Mum hurries in. "So where's his dad?"

"On his way. One of his junior barristers phoned to say he was just going through to the judge, to explain."

Mum took a look at Stol, just lying there. Flat out. Not even breathing, so far as I could see. You could tell what she was thinking.

Not everyone would say it, though.

"Well, his dad's the last person we need."

She'll not forget the time that Mr. Oliver showed up in Casualty so furious at being called out of court, he practically started dishing out malpractice suits to all the doctors who'd spent the last two hours saving his son's life. And then he'd turned on me, as if it were my fault for suggesting we play Pirate Attack! in the first place. How was I supposed to know Stol would get so overexcited he'd start yo-ho-ho-ing and swigging that stuff with the skull and the crossbones? Good thing I hadn't said a word about the pathetic knots he'd used to truss me up for the gangplank. If I hadn't moved so fast, he'd have been in the mortuary.

"No, probably best off without Franklin."

Mum grabbed the phone she'd left me earlier and took off down the ward. I didn't bother following to try to listen. No one gets straight through to Mr. Oliver anyway. He's far too important. But even in emergencies Mum prefers things the way they are. If she can leave her message with Jeanine, his secretary, quickly enough, she can get off the phone before Franklin snatches it and starts all his arguing.

The nurse was bending over Stol when Mum came back.

"I told Jeanine to stop him canceling. After all, nothing's happening." Suddenly superstitious, she went pale and crossed her fingers. So did I, in my pocket, and together we stared at Stolly till the nurse moved off and Mum went on, "I told her to tell Franklin we'll stay here till he's out of court."

We know what "out of court" means. Back to chambers for discussions that might go on till midnight, or even later if the case isn't going well. But maybe this time, what with Stol having done for himself so comprehensively brilliantly, his dad will make the effort to get away sooner.

"What about . . . ?"

What with the nurse still being well within earshot, Mum didn't finish, as she does usually, ". . . his daffy mum." So I just answered.

"On a shoot. In the jungle."

"The jungle?"


"I'm not sure Nicaragua's jungle." But clearly even Mum had grasped this was no time for elementary geography. To tell the truth, though, she did not look sorry. Esme Oliver is a menace in a sickroom. She is the sort of person who would unthinkingly lift off your sterile dressing to wipe off her nail polish. Or fetch out her hair spray in a ward of asthmatics.

"But is she on her way back?"

"No, not yet. They can't find her."

"Can't find her? Is she lost?"

"No," I explain. "It's just that her assistant can't raise a signal. You see, she and the photographer have taken the models where there are no land lines in order to get that absolutely authentic sense of lost-in-the-rain-forest chic to launch her new range of three-tiered mock-python and marabou waterproo--"

Normally Mum adores this sort of stuff. She says my bulletins from the World of Esme have been one of the principal compensations for feeding Stolly pretty well every sensible meal he's ever eaten, checking his hair for nits whenever she does mine, and having him sleep over practically every other night, while trying to make sure he keeps up with his homework.

But this time, Stol's too white, too still. She cuts me off.

"Right," she says. "You keep him going till I get back from seeing the doctor."

What does she mean, "keep him going"? But I don't argue. I just trail her to the door. "The doctors won't talk to you," I warn her. "I asked a nurse, and she said if I wasn't family, she couldn't tell me anything."

"So I'll say that I'm family."

I panicked. "But what if they ask you to make a decision?"

"Well," she said. "If they ask me which ice cream he's going to want for his supper, I'll tell them toffee pecan. And if they want a decision about how late he ought to be allowed to stay up watching telly, I'm going to be quite tough and insist it's before ten."

Brave stab. But Stol has sailed too close to death and I can't smile.

We both turn back to look at him. "For pity's sake!" says Mum. "I'll just find out what's what. And if there are any decisions to be made, I'll get back to Franklin. The man's supposed to be one of the cleverest barristers in Britain, isn't he? He can surely read a note pushed under his nose in the middle of a court case. Should we switch off your dear son's life support? Tick Yes or No."

But simply joking about it has unnerved her worse. She has to come back to lay her hand against his cheek. "Oh, Stolly! Stolly! What a little fool you are!"

Back at the door, she tells me sharply, "You look after him!"

This time, I have to ask. "What does that mean?"

"You know. Sit close. And concentrate. Will him back."

"Will him?"

Now I'm unnerved as well, because it sounds so much like something from the World of Esme.

"That's right. Stay close. Don't let them send you off to the coffee shop or anything. I'll bring you back something to eat. Just sit here and remember he's your friend. Stick with him."

Strange. (For my mum.)

And she has slid away, round next door's curtain.

I know her. I sat very quietly, and, sure enough, I heard the nose-blow and the little sniffle. And the deep tranquillizing breaths she had to take before she could set her face and go and ask whoever she could find what might be happening in Stol's flat silence.

From the Hardcover edition.
Anne Fine

About Anne Fine

Anne Fine - Up on Cloud Nine
“I write the books for me. (Me at 5, me at 14.) Then hope there are readers out there who like the same sorts of books I do.”–Anne Fine

Anne Fine is a two-time winner of the prestigious Carnegie Medal and the author of many acclaimed books for children, including Flour Babies, The Tulip Touch, and the Robin Williams movie hit Mrs. Doubtfire.


When I was young , it never occurred to me that I might be a writer. I think I must have thought that books were born on the library shelves. But I was good at writing stories, and I had a good deal of practice.

My primary school teacher came in every Monday morning in the worst of moods. 'Fetch my bag'. He'd lay his leather strap across the front of his desk as a threat or warning. Then he'd turn and chalk up three titles on the board: A Day in the Life of a Lost Umbrella, My Best Friend, The Worst Advice I ever Took; anything like that. Then: 'I want absolute silence till break-time' he'd say, nursing his hungover head. 'The first person to whisper gets the strap'.

I loved those double lessons more than anything in the world (except for reading). No endless discussions. No sharing of ideas. No realising that someone else had also had your brilliant idea. I covered reams of paper. I wrote fast. And I learned to judge the form and the length of a story. It was the best training I could ever have had, though I didn't know I'd be a writer.

I still work with a pencil and rubber in absolute silence. I still hide my work with my arms if anyone walks past, and I wouldn't dream of talking about what I'm writing or let a soul look at it until it's completely finished. Oh - and I still prefer reading other people's books to writing my own!

A lot of my work, even for fairly young readers, raises quite serious social issues. I believe that many personal decisions have a social or political resonance, and the way people try to pick their way through tricky family situations interests me. But people won't (and shouldn't) read books that don't hold their interest, and I still adore funny books. So since I write for the reader inside myself, I always end up with the kind of book I would have loved to read (if only someone else had bothered to write for me).


“[Anne Fine] produces a subtle and absorbing tale.”—Publishers Weekly

“England’s Children’s Laureate again exercises her unsurpassed gift for memorable, complex character studies.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred

“Fine outdoes herself here.”—The Horn Book Magazine, Starred

“Completely absorbing.”—School Library Journal, Starred

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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