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  • Ola Shakes It Up
  • Written by Joanne Hyppolite
    Illustrated by Warren Chang
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780375895098
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Ola Shakes It Up

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Written by Joanne HyppoliteAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Joanne Hyppolite
Illustrated by Warren ChangAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Warren Chang


List Price: $9.99


On Sale: April 02, 2009
Pages: 176 | ISBN: 978-0-307-53905-2
Published by : Yearling RH Childrens Books
Ola Shakes It Up Cover

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Moving? When Ola Benson's family leaves Roxbury in Boston to a house in the suburbs, Ola is sure her parents have made a big mistake.  What on Earth are they doing in Walcott--a historic, stuck-up town where the Bensons are the only black family?

True, there are a few good things about the move: Mama and Daddy have better jobs.  They have a bigger house, big enough to offer a home to Lillian, a Haitian refugee.  But the house is in a "cooperative community" with a million rules: No kids outside after dark.  No playing in the street.  No jumping in the leaves.  No fun.

Well, if Ola's stuck in Walcott, she'll make it a place where she can feel at home.  Ola the undaunted comes up with plan after plan, including Operation Pretend I Belong Here and Operation Smile If It Kills You.  Finally she hits upon the superspecial can't miss plan: Operation Shake It Up.

Joanne Hyppolite celebrates community, cooperation, and family life in a warm and realistic story with an irrepressible heroine.

From the Hardcover edition.


"We really are the only black people in this neighborhood?" Aeisha always gets right to the point.


Khatib and Aeisha were quiet for a few seconds, and I moved down one step.

"And we're really gonna be the only black people at our schools?"


I moved down another step. We were all quiet now, and I knew what everybody was thinking. Living in Boston, you know that there are rules. Everybody lives in their own neighborhoods. Everybody goes to their own schools. People break those rules all the time, but if they do, they usually end up on the six o'clock news. Were we gonna get in any trouble for living here? I moved down another step until I was squeezed in tight between Dad and Mama.

"So we're the only black people in this town?" Khatib asked slowly. "How are people gonna feel about us?"

An Excerpt from Ola Shakes It Up

        Dad pulled the car back out into the street, and in a few seconds we pulled
        into the driveway of another blue-and-white house. "Number seven-twenty-seven.

        I stared out of the car window at the house. It made our house back in
        Roxbury look like a beat-up old shed. This house had big, wide windows
        instead of the small, tight windows in our old house. This house had a
        tall, polished wood double door instead of a too-low single door with
        peeling paint, like our old house. I felt like I was looking at a blown-up-to-life-size
        version of those dollhouses we used to see in the store catalogs. Aeisha
        had always wanted one of those dollhouses, but they were too expensive.

        Then I looked at the other houses. They looked like dollhouses, too. In
        fact, they all looked like exactly the same dollhouse. How was I going
        to find my way home from school in this neighborhood? Even Dad didn't
        know his own house.

        "It's all wrong," I said. Khatib and Aeisha nodded with me. They put on
        their most sorrowful expressions to show Mama, except that Khatib's expression
        looked more like he was sick than upset.

        Mama twisted her neck to look at us. "It'll look prettier in the spring,
        when the grass gets back to being green and the trees fill out."

        Ha, I thought. What about the humongous front lawn? It looked like it
        was the size of Franklin Park. Who was gonna take care of it? Dad hated
        doing yard work and Khatib was always at basketball practice. Who was
        gonna shovel all the snow in the winter? Who was gonna rake the millions
        of leaves that fell off those big trees? Not me.

        "Come out, all you." Mama held the car door open for me. 'At least you
        can have a look inside."

        Khatib, Aeisha and I glanced at each other. I could tell they were wimping
        out, 'cause neither of them looked me in the eye.

        "Guess it wouldn't hurt." Khatib shrugged.

        "We're already here," Aeisha pointed out.

        "No way!" I whispered loudly.

        The looked at each other again, and the next thing I knew they were climbing
        all over me to get out of the car and running up the front lawn to the
        house. Traitors.


From the Hardcover edition.
Joanne Hyppolite

About Joanne Hyppolite

Joanne Hyppolite - Ola Shakes It Up
Joanne Hyppolite was born in Haiti in 1969. Her family settled in the United States when she was four years old, and she grew up in Boston. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in creative writing and received her master's degree from the Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She lives in Florida, where she plans to pursue her goals of writing and teaching. Joanne is currently studying for her doctorate in Caribbean Literature.

Seth and Samona
, her first novel, won the Second Annual Marguerite de Angeli Prize.

Hyppolite's most recent novel, Ola Shakes It Up, follows 9-year-old Ola as she shakes up the "cooperative community" of Walcott Corners in an effort to make it as lively as her old neighborhood of Roxbury.


"Hyppolite gives an old story--moving to a new town--an unusual twist and a very appealing protagonist...A warmhearted look at a potentially explosive emotional situation, handled with grace and humor."
--Kirkus Reviews

"A story that speaks directly to a contemporary audience."
--School Library Journal

From the Hardcover edition.

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