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Comfort Creek

Overview

Quinn and her family have seen better days. Mom has gone off to sing in a band, and Pa-Daddy is moving them out of their hometown and into the swampy backcountry. Worst of all, Quinn has lost her chance to edit the sixth-grade newspaper at her old school. Pa-Daddy is having serious money troubles, but is that any excuse for turning Quinn's world upside down? Warmth and wit bring spice to this memorable novel about a family's discovery that sticking together is the only way to ...
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Comfort Creek

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Overview

Quinn and her family have seen better days. Mom has gone off to sing in a band, and Pa-Daddy is moving them out of their hometown and into the swampy backcountry. Worst of all, Quinn has lost her chance to edit the sixth-grade newspaper at her old school. Pa-Daddy is having serious money troubles, but is that any excuse for turning Quinn's world upside down? Warmth and wit bring spice to this memorable novel about a family's discovery that sticking together is the only way to beat the rough times.

When her father loses his job, eleven-year-old Quinnella and her family move from the security of a company mining town to an uncertain future in rural isolation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Quinn's life could be a bad country music song-Mama left town, Daddy lost his job, they're living in a swamp, and if it weren't for bad luck they'd have no luck at all. This story of family crisis in a dying Florida mining town suffers from two problems: it's an adult-driven plot in which the main character, 11-year-old Quinn, is a reactor rather than protagonist, and the book has a 1950s sensibility despite its contemporary setting. In the opening chapter, Quinn and her sister Rhonda Fay ride on the front porch of their house as it is moved out of town on a flatbed to the backwoods. When Pa-Daddy loses his job in the mines and the family is plunged into abject poverty, deprived of electricity and plumbing, the clan bemoans their bad fortune but nobody thinks of tracking down Quinn's deadbeat country-music singer mom. Amid the turmoil, Quinn's grandmother Nanny Jo talks soothingly of an imaginary place, Comfort Creek, where everything is calm, but Quinn cannot begin to imagine it amid the chaos of her own life. By the time a solution comes along, readers may find their patience with the travails of Nanny Jo, Pa-Daddy, Rhonda Fay and Quinn has worn as thin as the family heirloom quilt. Ages 8-12. (Nov.)
The ALAN Review - Gerry McBroom
Set in a fictional Florida mining town, this first-person narrative investigates the problems a father and three daughters experience when the father is laid off and they move to a "swamp" with no electricity or water. Quinn, the sixth-grade narrator and middle daughter, describes her relationships with her father, her sixteen-year-old and nine-year-old sisters, her grandmother Nanny Jo Pearl, her friend Ed Earl, and other townspeople. Limited action makes the novel slow-going at the beginning, but the last half moves quickly with a heated town meeting followed by a fight in which her father is injured. All ends happily when Quinn gets an article published in the local newspaper and works out her relationship with her father, and the family moves to Nanny Jo's where her father will work. Quinn feels that the fictional place her grandfather always refers to as "Comfort Creek" really exists - right where she is.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Quinnella Ellerbee and her two sisters are unhappy about the changes in their family since their mother ran off to play with a bluegrass band. Times are hard in the company town of Panther Ridge, FL, especially since the mines have begun to close. The Ellerbees have had to move their tract home out to the swamps onto family land, making do without water or electricity. Quinn has had to change schools and give up her dream of becoming editor of the sixth-grade newspaper. Worse, their beloved Pa-Daddy is depressed and angry, unwilling to discuss his wife's departure or take up his mother's offer to help manage their fruit groves. But Quinn is smart and feisty, navigating the family difficulties with spirit and hope. When a development company comes on the scene and allegiances are threatened, she must find a way to reconcile her love for her father with her conscience-and to stand up for herself. The rural setting is well described, as is the economic and ecological impact of the mines. Quinn is likable and believable, and the family dynamics and secondary characters all ring true. While not fast paced, this is nevertheless a well-written, evocative, and insightful story with an emotionally satisfying conclusion.-Cyrisse Jaffee, formerly at Newton Public Schools, MA
Kirkus Reviews
A novel that begins with a lighthearted look at three sisters adjusting to a totally new life evolves into a sadly realistic story about economic dislocation and its effects on individuals, families, and communities.

Although her mother left the family for a career, Quinnella Ellerbee, 10, finds life in a small Florida mining company town pleasant enough. When the company is ready to sell off the Ellerbee home, Quinn's father, Pa-Daddy, scrapes up enough cash to make a down payment on it and relocate it to a swampy lot he inherited. The site is a horror to Quinn and her sisters; they are without plumbing, electricity, telephone, or television. When Pa-Daddy loses his job, the only solution is for him to take a job with Quinn's great-grandmother, Nanny Jo. He turns it down. When word comes that a new mining company is setting up shop, it divides the town, as well as Quinn's family. To Pa- Daddy it means a job; to Nanny Jo it means losing her property. Pa-Daddy is nearly killed in a violent confrontation over the new company; Quinn has to deal with her guilt at her part in her dad's injury. McDonald (Homebody, 1991, etc.) has created unforgettable characters in a powerful tale; the setting is authentically evoked while the economic debate could be right out of the headlines of Anytown, USA.

School Library Journal - Cyrisse Jaffee
(Starred) "The rural setting is well described, as is the economic and ecological impact of the mines. Quinn is likable and believable, and the family dynamics and secondary characters all ring true. While not fast paced, this is nevertheless a well-written, evocative, and insightful story with an emotionally satisfying conclusion." --This text refers to the out-of-print hardcover edition of this title.
Kirkus Reviews - Kirkus Associates, LP
(Starred) McDonald has created unforgettable characters in a powerful tale; the setting is authentically evoked while the economic debate could be right out of the headlines of Anytown, USA. (Fiction. 8-12) --This text refers to the out-of-print hardcover edition of this title.
Booklist - Michael Cart
" . . . strong characterization, regular infusions of humor, and a perfect-pitch first-person narrative voice of the feisty middle daughter. . . . Quinn, an 11-year-old, who dreams of becoming a journalist, is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in--even if it means going against Pa-Daddy. An unusual setting and the realistic handling of economic and environmental issues further strengthen this engaging story." --This text refers to the out-of-print hardcover edition of this title.
(Voice of Youth Advocates) - VOYA (anonymous)
"Quinn is a spunky character with a uniquely honest voice that readers are sure to like. Her lively first-person narrative will entertain and move readers."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440411987
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 1/12/1998
  • Pages: 194
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 870L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.21 (w) x 7.65 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce McDonald is the author of several critically acclaimed middle grade and young adult novels, most notably Swallowing Stones, an American Library Association Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults and Booklist's 100 Best of the Best 1966 - 2003, and Shades of Simon Gray, an ALA Best Book and Edgar Allen Poe Award Nominee. Her most recent novel is Devil on My Heels. She teaches in Spalding University's Brief-residency MFA in Writing Program.
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