Cold in Summer

( 3 )


The new girl in town meets a mysterious old-fashioned girl who can’t seem to find her way home.

The girl didn’t say anything. Her face held no expression.

Ariadne shivered. It was cool in the shade, and her hair was still wet.

“Hello,” Ariadne said. No answer. “Um—I was just taking a walk. Is this your property?” Still nothing. She took a ...

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The new girl in town meets a mysterious old-fashioned girl who can’t seem to find her way home.

The girl didn’t say anything. Her face held no expression.

Ariadne shivered. It was cool in the shade, and her hair was still wet.

“Hello,” Ariadne said. No answer. “Um—I was just taking a walk. Is this your property?” Still nothing. She took a step toward the girl and stumbled on a fallen branch. She caught her balance and looked back at the tree, but no one was there.

The girl had vanished.

It’s bad enough that Ariadne’s family just moved to a tiny boring town in the middle of nowhere. But worst of all is that she’s so far away from her best friend. The kids in Dobbin seem nice enough, but none of them really understands how lost and unhappy Ariadne feels.

None, that is, but May Butler. She’s an odd, quiet person who wears the strangest old-fashioned clothes and has a spooky habit of appearing and disappearing in the blink of an eye. Despite their differences, there is a bond between the two girls. May, too, knows what it’s like to feel lost.


Cold in Summer is a 2004 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

At the beginning of seventh grade, Ariadne moves to a Tennessee town near a former farming community submerged under a man-made lake and meets the ghost of a girl from the past.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Compelling. A genuine ghost story...that will draw readers eerily in." — Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
Barrett (Anna of Byzantium) places a supernatural twist on a well-worn story line about an unwelcome move. Seventh-grader Ariadne, miserable at being uprooted from Florida when her professor mother gets a job in a small Tennessee college town, is daydreaming about running away when she encounters a silent girl in old-fashioned clothes. Eventually she and the girl, May Butler, become friends, but mysteries surface. Why does May so quickly appear and disappear? Why doesn't anyone else see May? Readers will outpace the heroine in her slow piecing together of May's identity (she is the ghost of a 19th-century local girl) and May's request, "You have to look for me and help me go home." Given May's benevolence (she appears to girls or boys needing help), the ghost story isn't especially frightening, and those familiar with the genre may find Barrett's clues too obvious to generate much momentum. Instead, the tension arises from Ariadne's investigation of the colorful local history and her attempt to carry out May's wishes. If somewhat tame, the story offers enough teasers to keep the audience going until the action-packed climax. Ages 10-14. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
For 12-year-old Ariadne, the summer before seventh grade just stinks. Her family has moved from suburban Florida to Dobbin, Tennessee, where her father has taken a teaching position at the local university. Her best friend Sarah seems a million miles away, and Dobbin's only claim to fame is Cedar Point Lake, created when a town was flooded to provide water for an electricity-generating dam. Knowing she has to adjust, Ariadne tries to make friends, even with the strange girl named May she meets in the woods. However, no one else seems to know May, and before long, Ariadne starts hearing stories about other people in town who have seen a girl dressed in old-fashioned clothes in the woods. As Ariadne investigates the town's history for her first school project, she discovers that May had lived over a century ago, and has appeared to children throughout the decades, asking them to help "find her." Ariadne's research, with help from May's clues and those of two other residents to whom she has appeared, leads her to the edge of the lake where a hidden cave holds many secrets. May not only helps Ariadne solve a mystery, but also helps her find herself. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2003, Henry Holt, 203p.,
— Michele Winship
The author of Anna of Byzantium (Delacorte, 1999/VOYA October 1999) takes a classic new-kid-in-town story and gives it a ghostly twist in her latest novel. During the summer before seventh grade, Ariadne moves with her family from Florida to a small college town in Tennessee. Their new house overlooks a lake that was created around fifty years ago by flooding in the valley. When the lake formed, almost everything was left where it was except the cemetery, which was dug up and relocated near the new church. While walking in the woods near the lake one afternoon, homesick Ariadne decides that she will run away back to Florida. Just as she makes her plans, an odd-looking girl about Ariadne's age appears. Ariadne later discovers that May Butler is the ghost of a girl who died at the age of twelve before the flooding but whose body was never found. May has spent the last several decades helping people in need, as her mother had always taught her. Now May is in need: She wants Ariadne to find her body and return it to where the rest of her family is buried so that she can finally rest. Ariadne's loneliness, her adjustment to small-town life, and her suspicions of the new friends she makes at school and in the neighborhood are right on the mark. Barrett crafts a fine ghost story that will appeal to those who like mystery and intrigue as well as a good regional story. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2003, Henry Holt, 208p,
— Cynthia Grady
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Ariadne's family has just moved from Florida to tiny Dobbin, TN, and she hates it. She misses the ocean, her old school, and her best friend, Sarah. One day, after swimming in Cedar Point Lake, she meets an odd girl in old-fashioned clothing, whose name she later discovers is May. In the course of doing research for a class project on the history of her new town, Ariadne learns of a local legend concerning a child named May Butler who mysteriously disappeared one day in the 1850s, and she decides to discover the truth about the strange girl who drifts in and out of her life with no explanation. The story is rather predictable, and readers figure out what is going on long before Ariadne does. Also, some of the clues that lead her to solve the mystery fall into place a little too easily, with many of the supporting characters seeming to exist merely as vehicles for plot twists. The mutual concern that Ariadne and May have for one another, however, is affecting, and fans of ghost stories should enjoy this light, easy read.-Alison Ching, North Garland High School, Garland, TX Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
No way does Ariadne want to spend her seventh-grade year in a hick town in Tennessee just because her mom got a job at the university there. She’s lonesome, missing her best friend back in Florida. When she meets a girl with a long braid and wearing a faded blue dress and brown boots alone in the woods, who says she lives where "it’s cold in summer and warm in winter," Ariadne feels strangely drawn to her. Intrigued by the murky 100-foot-deep lake where her family lives, Adriadne’s social-studies project on the creation of the lake and the dead town underneath it becomes the eddy that swirls the mysterious circumstances together. Is the girl, May Butler, a ghost? How can Ariadne take her home? Plenty of foreshadowing and obvious clues point to the answers, but it’s not where the plot goes, rather how it gets there that makes the story compelling. A genuine ghost story without coincidental explanations that will draw readers eerily in. (Fiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805070521
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 5/28/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 760L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.68 (w) x 8.46 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Tracy Barrett is the award-winning author of several books for young readers, including the Sherlock Files books, King of Ithaka and Anne of Byzantium. Her books have been named an ALA Best Book for young adults, a Bank Street best children’s book of the year, and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, among other honors. She is a professor of Italian language and civilization at Vanderbilt University and lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2007

    THIS IS A GREAT BOOK!!!!!!!!!

    This book is full of lonelyness, humor, caring, and feeling. It is all about- never mind read it and find out.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2004


    I usually don't like books where the character is younger than myself or doesn't have any romance but I think it made it a stronger, better story! I thought that I had it figured out but it ended up way different! I loved it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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