Come Fall

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Lu Zimmer's best friend moved away last summer. Salman Page is the new kid in school. Blos Pease takes everything literally. Three kids who are on the fringe of the middle school social order find each other and warily begin to bond, but suddenly things start going wrong. Salman becomes the object of the school bully's torment, and Lu's pregnant mother has some unexpected complications. Is something conspiring against them?

In fact, through no fault of their own, Salman and Lu ...

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Come Fall

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Lu Zimmer's best friend moved away last summer. Salman Page is the new kid in school. Blos Pease takes everything literally. Three kids who are on the fringe of the middle school social order find each other and warily begin to bond, but suddenly things start going wrong. Salman becomes the object of the school bully's torment, and Lu's pregnant mother has some unexpected complications. Is something conspiring against them?

In fact, through no fault of their own, Salman and Lu have become pawns in a game of jealous one-upmanship between Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of Faery, with the mischievous Puck trying to keep the peace.

Taken from Titania's mention of a foundling in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, A. C. E. Bauer spins an original tale about magical intervention in the least magical of settings: a public middle school.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Fairy tale charm and magic are woven into the everyday struggles of three middle-school children, when Bauer (No Castles Here) expands on a plot line from A Midsummer Night's Dream, about a boy whose presence disrupts fairy land's harmony. Bauer's third-person narrative alternately focuses on new kid Salman, a perpetual foster child; Lu-Ellen, the "designated buddy" assigned to help Salman acclimate to seventh grade; and Blos, a socially challenged student who befriends them both; along with first-person chapters from Puck, servant to Shakespeare's Oberon and Titania, who bicker over Salman's fate. Supernatural elements, such as a crow that links human and fairy worlds and the astonishing fecundity of Salman's foster mother's garden, soften but do not blunt the harsh realities faced by the protagonists. Bullies, mental health difficulties, sibling rivalry, social services, and school bureaucracies all provide mystifying obstacles for the children to navigate. While the forbidding social milieu, abetted by fairy mischief, threatens to destroy their spirits, the power of true friendship prevails in this magical yet realistic tale that, quite rightly, makes middle school feel like a trip through a dark and scary forest populated by not-so-friendly creatures. Ages 9-12. (July)
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Salman, an orphan in his umpteenth foster home, has an uncertain life with an abusive man who does not want him around. Lu, a shy girl who is lonely since her best friend moved, feels lost at times with all the changes. Blos, one who sees things differently, puts people into two categories: those who avoid him and those who make fun of him. These young people discover the true meaning of friendship when they are thrown together at Riverfalls Junior High, where an unlikely bond occurs under the worst of circumstances. This tale is told from a variety of perspectives, including Puck, from the faerie realm. The story flows well, though readers may wonder why the faeries are muddling in the characters' lives, and it is not explained until the acknowledgments at the end. The characters are well developed, authentic, and have distinct voices. The friendships they build are believable, as are the problems they face. Even Lu, who has a great family, has social issues that are easy to relate to. The book turns out to be a pleasant account of making new friends and what it takes to be one, regardless of what others think. Students who enjoy realistic fiction with a touch of fantasy will enjoy this story with a feel-good ending.—Mariela Siegert, Westfield Middle School, Bloomingdale, IL
Children's Literature - Sharon Oliver
The modern foster child story meets Shakespeare in this compelling young adult novel. Salman Page, new to Springfalls Junior High, tries to make himself as inconspicuous as possible as he rides out what he is sure will be a short placement with his newest foster family. His desire to go unnoticed is thwarted by the school's mentoring program, which assigns Lu Zimmer to be his "designated buddy," someone who will help Salman acclimate to his new school. However, Lu discovers that something is not quite normal about Salman. He seems to have a rather unusual relationship with a crow that follows him around as well as exhibiting an odd sort of grace with movement. With Lu and his other new acquaintance, Blos Pease, who appears to be on the autism spectrum, Salman decides to try a little harder to fit in, despite the fact that his new foster father does not really want him to stay. Intertwined with Salman's story is a struggle over the boy between Titania, queen of the fairies and King Oberon that is being mediated by the faerie messenger Puck. Turns out Salman is the boy Titania pledges to keep from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." While the boy does not appear in the actual play, Bauer here creates a full-fledged and well-rounded character for him. While readers unfamiliar with the play may not grasp the full meaning of the Midsummer Night chapters, the story of Salman, Lu and Blos is enough to keep most readers hooked. Again, Bauer has again produced a top-notch young adult novel that perhaps will send a few readers off to examine Shakespeare's play. Reviewer: Sharon Oliver
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375958557
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 7/27/2010
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 510L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

A. C. E. Bauer has been telling stories ever since she could talk (some were real whoppers). After learning how to write them down, she began handing them out as gifts to her family. Ms. Bauer took a break from writing for a while when she was a lawyer helping poor people, writing legal briefs and telling stories about her clients. She has returned to fiction and now writes for children of all ages. Born and raised in Montreal, she spends most of the year in Cheshire, Connecticut, and much of the summer on a lake in Quebec. She lives with her husband, two children, and their dog, Speedy.

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Read an Excerpt

1—Salman Page    

Rule number one: never be noticed    

Salman Page chose a table in the far corner of the Springfalls Junior High cafeteria, next to a mural of brown and purple swirls—ugly, but he'd be harder to see against it. He kept his back to the wall and his head down, letting his shoulder-length hair hide most of his brown face. He wanted to be, to the casual observer, a kid intent on his meal of meat loaf and mashed potatoes. A few kids sat two tables away, not talking much. This part of the cafeteria was for losers. Salman thought that was just fine.  

He glanced around once before he unscrewed the silver cap from his juice bottle, wiped it with his napkin, and slid it into his breast pocket. A skinny girl approached. She was midsized with short, light brown hair and a friendly face. Salman concentrated on his mashed potatoes. The kids at the other table must know her.  

"Hi," she said.  

She was talking to Salman. He raised his head slowly. She smiled and pushed her glasses up her nose.  

"Are you Salman Page?"  

Who was this kid?  

"Salman," he said, emphasizing the L. He wasn't some kind of fish.  

"Sorry." She paused. "I'm Lu Zimmer, your designated buddy."  

She sat down and placed her lunch bag and a box of chocolate milk on the table.  

Salman frowned. Because of a mix-up with his state files, his transfer here for seventh grade didn't happen until two days before school started. No one had assigned him a designated buddy. When Ms. R, his homeroom teacher, had asked him whether he got along with his d.b., he had no idea what she was talking about.  

"Deebee?" he said.  

"It's short for designated buddy," Ms. R said. "An eighth-grade mentor."  

"Don't have one," he said.   Ms. R radiated disapproval.  

"I'll make the arrangements."  

Salman didn't need a designated buddy. He wished Ms. R had never asked him about it.  

Lu Zimmer plowed ahead.  

"I'm supposed to meet with you, walk you around the school, show you how things work. That kind of stuff."   "I've walked around already."  

School had started a week and a half ago. What did she expect? Lu hesitated.  

"Maybe we can talk about your teachers."  

Salman was about to tell her that he didn't need to talk about his teachers when they were interrupted.  

"Hey, Lu!"  

A gangly white boy with wiry orange hair and a face full of pimples lurched over, carrying an oversized lunch bag. He towered above them.  

"May I join you?" he said.  

Before either Lu or Salman could answer, the boy sat down next to Lu and emptied the contents of his sack onto the table.  

"I heard Ms. R made you a d.b.," the boy continued in his too-loud voice.  

Lu reddened, and her smile strained.  

"Salman Page," she said, "this is Blos Pease."  

Blos turned to Lu.  

"You are his d.b., right?"  

"Yes, Blos," Lu said.  

Her smile was fading. Blos focused on Salman.  

"Did you know Lu and I had the same d.b. last year?"  

Salman gave only the slightest shake of his head.  

"It is true. We used to have lunch with her, all the time."  

This last statement refocused Blos onto his own lunch. He removed the items from each of the four separate sandwich bags and lined them up in front of him.  

Blos took a deep breath, hands hovering over the sandwich. He blinked at Salman and let his hands drop.  

What now? Salman wondered.  

Blos's lower lip covered his upper. He stared hard at Salman. His hands kept approaching his sandwich and then retreating. Salman almost looked forward to what was going to happen next.  

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Customer Reviews

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