A Simple Gift

( 1 )


Finding the courage to make amends

Ten-year-old Carrie O’Connor wants to be an actress. After starring as a singing tooth in her class play at a New York City school, she convinces her parents to let her audition for a summer theater production in the mountains of North Carolina. And not just any production – it is a play based on a beloved children’s book written by her own mother! By virtue of a plucky audition (and not, she makes certain, ...

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Finding the courage to make amends

Ten-year-old Carrie O’Connor wants to be an actress. After starring as a singing tooth in her class play at a New York City school, she convinces her parents to let her audition for a summer theater production in the mountains of North Carolina. And not just any production – it is a play based on a beloved children’s book written by her own mother! By virtue of a plucky audition (and not, she makes certain, her relation to the book’s author), Carrie is invited to join the cast. But as Michael Madigan’s Curtain Call wends its way toward opening night, Carrie makes a blunder so big it threatens to topple the whole production.

Young readers will identify with this spunky young heroine as she finds a way to put things right – and makes some unexpected discoveries about her writer-mother’s past in the process.

A small-town community theater production based on one of her mother's books brings Carrie a glimpse of her mother's past and a new understanding of giving to others.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
After her successful debut as a singing molar in her school play, ten-year-old Carrie is bitten by the acting bug. When she finds out that her author-mother's book, Michael Madigan's Curtain Call, is going to be produced as a play in her mom's hometown in North Carolina, by a well- known Broadway director from the same town, her passion is fueled. Auditioning anonymously, Carrie is more than thrilled to get a part. Then she inadvertently makes a huge mistake in judgment, which not only hurts the feelings of the lead character, but also threatens to destroy the show. Carrie thinks hard to figure out a way to right her error, and to make sure that "the show must go on." Throughout, Carrie not only gains in maturity; she also learns some surprising information about her mother's past. The text is cleverly interspersed with stories from the local newspaper, which help to move the plot along. Carrie is a likable character, and ultimately the book itself is "a simple gift"—a deceptively simple tale with some powerful messages. 2003, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
—Micki S. Nevett
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Budding actors especially will appreciate this contemporary novel about the theater experiences of a 10-year-old New Yorker during her summer vacation. Carrie travels to her mother's hometown in North Carolina to audition for a part in a play based on one of the woman's best-selling children's novels. The story line involves a popular boy letting an unpopular boy substitute for him in a school play. The lead, who cannot read or write well but has a natural talent as an actor, is talked into taking the part by the director, who grew up in the town and is now a success on Broadway. By the end of the book, Carrie realizes that the main characters are modeled after her uncle, who drowned when he was young, and her mother's childhood acquaintance-"Louis the Loser," who is now a director. Good characterizations and a well-developed plot make this an enjoyable read.-Marilyn Ackerman, Brooklyn Public Library, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Carrie, 10, has caught the acting bug, especially when she finds out that her mother’s award-winning children’s book is being staged in her mother’s hometown in North Carolina. This spunky New York City girl is in for many surprises as she heads for the mountains to work with the Broadway director, show-off Liza Barrett, and Storm Sellers, who’s repeating the fourth grade. The visit to her hometown also gives Carrie’s mother the opportunity to talk about her kindhearted brother, who died when she was little. When Carrie’s attempt to impress and outdo Liza results in the humiliation of Storm and the loss of the play’s star, Carrie must admit her fault and devise a plan to win him back. By the end of the production, she discovers that acting is a team effort and learns the true identities of the play’s characters. Through Patterson’s use of theater terms, newspaper articles, and children’s questionnaires, this progresses interestingly, the pieces coming together beautifully for a conclusion that will satisfy its young readers. (Fiction. 8-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440112065
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/3/2009
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 0.30 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Ruth Patterson has written two other novels for children, The Christmas Cup and The Shiniest Rock of All, both of which have been produced professionally as plays. She lives in Roanoke, Virginia.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2007

    A Simple Gift is a gift for young readers

    Nancy Patterson has the gift of endearment built into her characters and she provides them with substance, punch and nuance. Carrie is a young girl who is out to do the right things yet in the meantime learns something about herself. Isn't that what we wish for all of our children, to do the right things and make important discoveries about themselves? Nancy has weaved a clever little plot with seamless characters that make you pine for those days when simplicity still mattered. In a day and age of light speed and umpteenth distractions, Nancy Patterson shows us that we can slow down, enjoy the moment and savor the result of a well written book for young readers.

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