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  • Written by Polly Horvath
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On Sale: September 09, 2008
Pages: 272 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89231-8
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE & AWARDS PRAISE & AWARDS
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

THE WINNER OF a National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, and countless other awards has written her richest, most spirited book yet, filled with characters that readers will love, and never forget.

Jane is 12 years old, and she is ready for adventures, to move beyond the world of her siblings and single mother and their house by the sea, and step into the “know-not what.” And, over the summer, adventures do seem to find Jane, whether it’s a thrilling ride in a hot-air balloon, the appearances of a slew of possible fathers, or a weird new friendship with a preacher and psychic wannabe. Most important, there’s Jane’s discovery of what lies at the heart of all great adventures: that it’s not what happens to you that matters, but what you learn about yourself.

And don't miss Polly Horvath's Northward to the Moon, the sequel to My One Hundred Adventures.

Excerpt

Summer Begins

All summers take me back to the sea. There in the long eelgrass, like birds’ eggs waiting to be hatched, my brothers and sister and I sit, grasses higher than our heads, arms and legs like thicker versions of the grass waving in the wind, looking up at the blue washed sky. My mother is gathering food for dinner: clams and mussels and the sharply salty greens that grow by the shore. It is warm enough to lie here in the little silty puddles like bathwater left in the tub after the plug has been pulled. It is the beginning of July and we have two months to live out the long, nurturing days, watching the geese and the saltwater swans and the tides as they are today, slipping out, out, out as the moon pulls the other three seasons far away wherever it takes things. Out past the planets, far away from Uranus and the edge of our solar system, into the brilliantly lit dark where the things we don’t know about yet reside. Out past my childhood, out past the ghosts, out past the breakwater of the stars. Like the silvery lace curtains of my bedroom being drawn from my window, letting in light, so the moon gently pulls back the layers of the year, leaving the best part open and free. So summer comes to me.

“Jane, Maya, Hershel, Max,” calls my mother. She always calls my name first. She is finished gathering and her baskets are heavy. We run to help her bring things back to the house. No one else lives year-round on the beach but us. A poet with no money can still live very well, my mother reminds us, and I do not know why. Who would think having to leave the ocean for most of the year is a better way to live? How could we not live well, the five of us together? I love our house. I love the bedroom I share with my sister. Our house has no upstairs like the houses of my friends. It has one floor with a kitchen that is part of a larger room, and off of this large room with its big table and rocking chairs and its soft old couch and armchair and miles of booklined shelves are three bedrooms. One for my mother, one for my brothers, one for my sister and me. “I love this house,” I say to my mother often. “You cannot love it as I do,” she says. “No one can ever love it as I do.”

There’s a big red-and-white-checked oilcloth on the kitchen table and an old wine bottle with a dripping candle in the center of it. Our bedroom has two sagging cots topped with old Pendleton blankets. My mother says there is nothing like a Pendleton blanket for keeping you warm at night. She says this especially on nights when the storms are coming in from the northeast and the house is cold and the wind is blowing through the cracks and we read books by candlelight because the elec- tricity is out again. We love the winter because when our power goes out there are no other houses alight on this shore. Their occupants have all gone home until next summer. We are all alone. It is darker than dark then. You can hear the waves crash louder when it is dark. You can smell the sharper smells of the sea. Maybe the wind will take us this time, I think, as a gust shakes the foundations of the house. Maybe we will be blown apart to the many corners of the earth, and I am filled with sadness to lose the other four, but then a sharp stab of something, excitement maybe. It is the prospect of adventures to be had.

On Sundays we walk as we always do, fall, winter, spring, summer, any weather, to the little steepled church in town. We get sand in our good church shoes walking over the beach and sit on cement dividers when we get to the parking lot, dumping our shoes, as much a church ritual now as kneeling at prayer. The church is just the right size, not too large. It has two rooms, one of which is for the Sunday schoolers. We stand in the woody-smelling pews with the soft, much-opened hymnbooks and sing. But despite all this churchgoing every Sunday of every year, it isn’t until this year, when I am twelve, that I have figured out I can pray. Perhaps I have had nothing to pray for until now. As if itchy and outgrown, my soul is twisting about my body, wanting something more to do this summer than the usual wading in the shallows and reading and building castles on the shore. I want something I know not what, which is what adventures are about. The step into the know-not-what. I want it so badly it is making me bad-tempered with Maya, who is too young to understand. She wants every summer the same, and so had I until this year. And my brothers are too young to care about anything like this for a long time. I am twisting all alone.

This week our preacher, a fat old lady named Nellie Phipps, says from her pulpit that you ought to pray all the time. Just about anything at all. It doesn’t have to be sacred. And your prayers will be answered, she declares, your prayers will always be answered.

I pray for a hundred adventures. And maybe, I think, if I pray all the time unceasingly as Nellie is telling us we should, as I walk to town and help my mother shuck oysters, as I make baskets from reeds and sweep the floors or weed the vegetable garden, as I sit mooning over the movement of the wind and lying on my back, lost in the thoughtlessness of doing nothing, then there might be a response. And so I do and maybe it is because of this that it all happens.

Who would think that the universe would pay any attention to me? Who would think that someone who looks like Nellie Phipps would know?


From the Hardcover edition.
Polly Horvath

About Polly Horvath

Polly Horvath - My One Hundred Adventures
I grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. My father, John Horvath, was a C.I.A. agent until he was in his forties and married my mother, Betty Ferguson. After that he became a high school biology teacher. My mother wrote picture books, so I remember the excitement around the house about the New York Times special children’s book sections, Horn Book reviews, who was getting the Newbery and Caldecott that year. I also learned how to submit a manuscript properly. I taught myself to type when I was in the fifth grade so that I could send my manuscripts out looking professional. Today’s children will think this is no big deal because they all learn to type the second they come out of the womb so they can use computers, but when I was growing up, there were no computers and typing was more of a frill and not something you usually picked up in grade school.

When I was in high school the last two years, my German teacher, Mr. Wooden, gave me a passkey to the building and set up a little room in the library, which was to be my office. He suggested I take my courses as independent study and arranged for a coffee pot and typewriter for me. Then he said, “So you want to write, write.” And I did. I had a wonderful English teacher, Mr. Smith, who despite being overworked, read masses of things I wrote and commented. I sent out manuscripts. I had an agent. Despite all of this, it wasn’t until I was 29 that I had a book published.

While waiting to get published, I became a ballet teacher, went to school in Toronto, moved to New York, taught dance in Montreal, and married. I was pregnant with our first daughter when my editor at the time, Reisa Arnold, at FSG called to say they were publishing my book. We had been rewriting it together for seven years. I don’t think I would have that kind of patience now. She probably wouldn’t either. I had sent out that manuscript for years. I had a very run down apartment in Montreal before I was married and one wall in the kitchen looked terrible, it was covered in peeling paint and I couldn’t afford to repaint it, so I plastered the wall with my rejection slips. Every time one came in I thought, oh great, that will cover this corner perfectly.

After I had our second daughter, my husband, Arnie Keller, became the director of the professional writing program at the University of Victoria and so we moved to British Columbia. Suddenly instead of a white picket fence Midwest town or big cities, I was living on an island in a small, rural community replete with bears and cougars, whales and eagles. This gave me a whole different frame of reference and inspired a different sort of storytelling. Here I wrote The Trolls, The Canning Season, Everything on a Waffle, books that won awards and changed the course of my writing career so that I could afford to write full-time. We acquired a dog and a horse. I began to travel, to speak to schoolchildren in Miami, Washington, D.C., New York, Arizona, Germany, Moosejaw, all kinds of places. I wrote other books. My daughters grew up. I wrote My One Hundred Adventures. I am working on a new book and a few days ago I had an idea for one after that. . . .
Praise | Awards

Praise

Starred Review, Booklist, June 1, 2008:
“Unconventionality is Horvath’s stock and trade, but here the high quirkiness quotient rests easily against Jane’s inner story with its honest, childlike core.”
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2008:
"[A] witty, wise and wonderful novel."

Review, Parenting Magazine, September 2008:
"[T]his tale's full of sweetly memorable moments."

Starred Review, School Library Journal, September 2008:
"This is Horvath's most luminescent, beautifully written novel yet."

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, August 25, 2008:
"[T]his quietly captivating novel marks a new course for National Book Award-winner Horvath."


From the Hardcover edition.

Awards

WINNER 2008 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold Award
WINNER 2008 Parents' Choice Gold Award
WINNER 2008 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
WINNER 2008 Booklist Children's Editors' Choice
WINNER 2008 Kirkus Reviews Best ChildrenÂ’s Books
WINNER 2008 Amazon Best of the Year
WINNER 2008 Book Links Lasting Connection
NOMINEE Michigan Reading Association Great Lakes Book Award
WINNER IRA Children's Choices

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