Crazy Lady! (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

Crazy Lady! (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

by Jane Leslie Conly, J. Conly

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As he tries to come to terms with his mother's death, Vernon finds solace in his growing relationship with the neighborhood outcasts, an alcoholic and her retarded son.


As he tries to come to terms with his mother's death, Vernon finds solace in his growing relationship with the neighborhood outcasts, an alcoholic and her retarded son.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
Once again, an adolescent is having trying times. Vernon is having difficulties in school. He doesn't want to cause his dad any grief, but he wants to fit in with the rest of the guys. This is a tall order for a preteen. He strikes a balance in hanging with the guys, keeping his grades up, and doing selfless acts of kindness. Vernon's internal emotions, needs and desires combine with the story of a community, long ignored, coming together. There are some powerful issues in this book -alcohol abuse, mental retardation, foster homes, community service-all things that today's adolescents need to be aware of. Newbery Honor Book.
Library Journal
Gr 5-9-Crazy Lady by Jane Conly (HarperCollins, 1993) is a gem of a story about outsiders, loss, friendship and growth. It deserves the thoughtful and perceptive performance that Ed Begley, Jr. gives as he narrates the story of Vernon, Maxine, Ronald and their neighborhood. Begley's voice has just the right amount of wonder, insecurity, and pathos as he shares Vernon's observations, self-accusations, and occasional outrage. He changes his voice only slightly to portray the weary wisdom of Vernon's father, and the almost hysterical anxiety of Maxine when she is on a "binge," but he clearly differentiates between characters and enhances Conly's characterizations. The only jarring note is the music that occasionally appears to emphasize a mood, be it a carnival or an anticipated conflict. Begley's reading is so effective that the music appears more as a distraction than an enhancement. Readers who loved the story will be moved by this version and feel the pain of the characters perhaps even more intensely than before. Those who missed the book should be directed to this audiobook.-Edith Ching, St. Albans School, Washington, DC Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Leslie Jane Conly's Newbery Honor winner is a heart-warming tale of how one boy's view of the world is changed. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Demco Media
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Sometimes I still dream about them, even though it's been two years since it happened,- I told Miss Annie. "I dream she's walking down the street, right in the middle like she always did, with Ronald on her arm. She's wearing dark glasses and a funny hat and purple pants, and she sways back and forth when she walks. Ronald looks like himself -- tall and thin. He's all pop-eyed, like he's scared someone's going to hurt him. And his mouth opens like he wants to talk, but he can't."

"I remember that look.- Miss Annie nodded.

"Then the kids come, and she starts shouting, and they do, too: 'Crazy Lady!' And she'll cuss them and hold on to Ronald, and they laugh and cuss right back.I stopped. -I must have had that dream a hundred times," I confessed.

Miss Annie nodded again, a quick little nod. She looks like she'll break if she moves more than just a bit. Lately her dark skin is stretched tight across her bones, as if it shrank in the wash and didn't stretch out again. But her mind is sharp.

-Vernon,- she said, -you ought to tell that story to someone. Or else write it down. Not just the dream the whole thing."

I laughed. -You know me better than that. I'm not going to spend the summer writing something I don't have to. School is bad enough."

She looked out the window for a moment, as if the answer was there. "That's what those dreams want. They want to be told."

"A dream can't want something, Miss Annie."

"It can, too." She smiled. "Dreams can make you so scared or addled or miserable that you'll do whatever you have to just to be free of them."

"Not me." I shook my head like I had everything undercontrol. -I just tell them to go away and leave me alone."

-You might as well stick a seed in the ground and tell it not to grow," Miss Annie said. -It will come out of the dark one way or another."

"It won't either," I said.

But, of course, it did.

As for me, I grew up with a million kids. There are five just in my family: Steph, Tony, me, Sandra, and Ben. Steph lives out in the suburbs now; she's married, and she works in a lab. And Tony is in college. He's the first one in our family to go. He graduated from Tech last year and got a scholarship.

My family's Catholic. When we were little, we used to walk to church in a long line, holding hands. Somebody took a picture of that, and I love to look at it. It's like we're the whole world, we look so different: some blond, some dark, some with long hair, some real short, Tony already tall, and Ben sitting like a little puppet on Daddy's arm. My mom's in the picture, too. I've studied her face. Sometimes I put my finger on it like I could really touch her. The way she looks in that picture is just the way she was: kind and honest and brave. She had dark eyes and hair and she was heavy, so she usually wore pants and a baggy shirt, even to church. People say I look like her, but I'm not sure. I'm big for my age, and my eyes are brown, and my hair is dark brown, which is the way she was.

My mom died of a stroke three years ago. She was at her job, sitting at a sewing machine in a factory over in Hampden, and she keeled over. We kids didn't know anything about it. We came home from school and we played just like always, and ate up half the food in the refrigerator, which we weren't supposed to do. And she didn't come home, and we kept on waiting, and finally Steph said, "We ought to do our homework." So some of them-not me -were doing it, and Daddy came in. We knew something bad had happened then. He worked the three-to-eleven shift, so he'd come home right in the middle of work. And his eyes were red. I'd never seen him cry before; I'd never even thought that he could cry. And he told us.

We've gotten along without her, but it's been hard. My dad is a quiet person. He's frail-looking, and after Mom died he seemed to get paler and smaller. Sometimes we didn't even notice he was home, with all the noise us kids made. It didn't use to be like that. I remember times when he'd come in from work and put one finger to his lips to keep us quiet. He'd line us up behind him. We'd creep into the kitchen and grab Mom from behind. She'd shriek and swat at us, and we'd fall down laughing.

It's not his fault things changed. Daddy will do anything for you. He never yells, and if he sees something is bothering you, he'll try to make you feel better. He'll buy you a candy bar and slip it to you behind his back so the other kids don't see. He'll give you a dollar, or tell you something he overheard about the Orioles' latest trade, or he'll sit down and try to work your problem out one point at a time. He tries, but he can't be Mom.

You see, Mom could make you feel special even if you had a face like a garbage-can lid. She hugged you on the outside and the inside, too. I'm the one in the family who was bad in school...

Crazy Lady!. Copyright � by Jane Conly. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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