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Applewhites at Wit's End

Applewhites at Wit's End

4.6 3
by Stephanie S. Tolan

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Jack Semple and E.D. Applewhite are back, in this middle-grade sequel to Stephanie S. Tolan’s Newbery Honor Book Surviving the Applewhites.

Teenager E.D., the not so artistic, not at all eccentric member of the unconventional Applewhite clan, can't believe the plan her father has hatched to save the family from financial disaster. He’s


Jack Semple and E.D. Applewhite are back, in this middle-grade sequel to Stephanie S. Tolan’s Newbery Honor Book Surviving the Applewhites.

Teenager E.D., the not so artistic, not at all eccentric member of the unconventional Applewhite clan, can't believe the plan her father has hatched to save the family from financial disaster. He’s decided to transform their rural North Carolina farm into a summer camp for creative children.

Soon the farm is packed with temperamental artists, out-of-control campers, and an even more out-of-control goat. It's all a little too much for structure-loving E.D., even before threatening notes begin appearing in the family mailbox. Together with Jake Semple--the boy who survived his first year in the Applewhites' home school—she's determined to save the camp and the family from disaster.

Like Carl Hiassan’s Chomp, Applewhites at Wit's End combines outrageous humor and the frustrations and joys of being part of a family.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist (starred review)
Praise for SURVIVING THE APPLEWHITES“Tolan has pulled off something special here.”
“Props to Tolan for keeping the plates spinning and attempting what so few authors for young readers do: switching points of view. A fun time was had by all.”
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (Starred Review)
Praise for SURVIVING THE APPLEWHITES: “The novel is pure fun.”
Children's Literature - Peg Glisson
When their bookkeeper absconds with most of their funds, the Applewhites know desperate times are at hand. They decide to turn their large property, a former motor inn, into a summer arts camp called Eureka! to help pay the mortgage. The adults, Jake, Cordelia, and Hal will lead workshops in their areas of expertise, while E.D. takes on organizing the camp, complete with spreadsheets and schedules. Young Destiny will be the mascot! Hoping to attract a minimum of twelve campers, they settle for six—six who are very headstrong and unwilling to compromise. Blending this group into a cohesive unit is quite a challenge for the Applewhites, who manage to stay true to themselves artistically and as a family while bending to meet the needs and desires of their campers. When a mysterious stranger starts poking around and it seems the camp will have to close, the campers scheme with the Applewhites to head off that disaster. The story is well plotted, humorous, and marvelously entertaining. Emphasis is on the madcap plot moving along at full steam, although themes of creativity, individuality, and collaboration are woven in. With so many characters, Tolan wisely focuses on E.D. and Jake, former enemies, and their developing trust and relationship. Other characters are loosely drawn, particularly the campers. Fans of the first book will be happy to rejoin the Applewhites; those new to this delightful family can read this one independently of the first.
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—The endearing family of freewheeling artists from Surviving the Applewhites (HarperCollins, 2002) returns for an encore that is cleverly plotted, emotionally satisfying, and highly entertaining. When the Applewhites are faced with financial ruin, Randolph, theater director and father, comes up with a typically ambitious idea: turning Wit's End, their 16-acre North Carolina home, into a summer camp for creative kids, with each family member mentoring his or her artistic passion—be it acting, dance, poetry, writing, or art. Everyone will have to pitch in, including 13-year-old E.D., whose talents lie in organization rather than creative expression, and 14-year-old Jake Semple, a homeschooler who had come to Wit's End as a last-chance delinquent and since discovered his own passion for musical theater. Of course, nothing goes as anticipated. Not only are the campers unexpectedly demanding and independent-minded, wreaking havoc with E.D.'s schedule, but there is also a mysterious man lurking about and threatening notes keep arriving. Never fear, E.D. and Jake take charge and inspire the usually contentious Applewhites—and the campers—to work as an ensemble and devise a creative solution. Tolan handles the large cast of characters with élan, deftly conveying each individual's quirky personality. E.D. and Jake are painted with believability and insight as their relationship evolves from enemies to allies to possible romance. Themes of creativity, individuality, and cooperation are explored as the roller-coaster plot unfolds and humorous moments abound.—Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
In Newbery Honor–winning Surviving the Applewhites (2002), Jake Semple, the big-city "bad kid," didn't know how he'd manage a year with that irrepressible clan. In this sequel Jake's back, but it's the Applewhites who don't know how or if they'll make it. Thanks to an embezzling financial manager, they're facing ruin. Theater-director dad Randolph decides to raise money by opening a creative-arts summer camp on their property, at which his uber-talented family will teach gifted kids. As with all of Randolph's plans, the family is initially skeptical. They pull together when it really counts, though, and soon things are humming and the stage is set for a rousing summer. Just a couple problems, though--threatening notes are turning up in the mailbox, and a mysterious stranger's nosing around. Organizational-genius daughter E.D. and Jake are on the case, eventually enlisting the aid of the rest of the family. Together with the campers, they devise an ingenious plot to foil the enemy in a satisfying, comical solution to a not-very-mystifying puzzle. The Applewhites remain humorous, heartwarming and devoted to their respective crafts and each other. The campers are fairly successfully realized, though most characterizations are superficial. Readers who liked the first book will appreciate this one, too, and the glimmerings of a few romances on the horizon will satisfy. (Fiction. 10-13)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Stephanie S. Tolan is the author of more than twenty-five books for young readers, including Listen!, which won the Christopher Award and the Henry Bergh ASPCA Award. Her New York Times bestselling novel Surviving the Applewhites received a Newbery Honor and was named a Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book for Children, a School Library Journal Best Book, an ALA Booklist Editors' Choice, an American Library Association Notable Children's Book, and an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults. Tolan lives on a little lake in a big woods in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband (Bob), two dogs (Coyote—the real dog from Listen!—and Samantha), one cat (Puck), and plenty of outdoor creatures.

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Applewhites at Wit's End 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My 4th and 8th graders enjoyed the first book and liked this continuation of the family escapades. My ten-year-old daughter says "I think APPLEWHITES AT WIT'S END is a good book because it is full of adventure". My fourteen year old son says it is good because the action is "realistic, not too far fetched to be believable".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book