December Stillness

December Stillness

4.4 15
by Mary Downing Hahn

View All Available Formats & Editions


Sensitive and idealistic fifteen-year-old Kelly McAllisterfeels at odds with everyone around her. Her best friendhas suddenly turned boy crazy. Her talented mothercreates greeting card designs instead of real art, andher father never talks to her about anything exceptworking hard and getting ahead.

That's why Kelly becomes so involved in the plight of

See more details below

  • Checkmark Kids' Club Eligible  Shop Now



Sensitive and idealistic fifteen-year-old Kelly McAllisterfeels at odds with everyone around her. Her best friendhas suddenly turned boy crazy. Her talented mothercreates greeting card designs instead of real art, andher father never talks to her about anything exceptworking hard and getting ahead.

That's why Kelly becomes so involved in the plight of ahomeless Vietnam vet who takes refuge in the libraryeach day. Interviewing him began as a Social Studiesproject, but it takes on new meaning after her offers offood and friendship backfire into a real disaster.What had the war done to destroy this man? And whathad it done to her own father, who had been to thesame war ... and refuses to speak of it?

Author Biography:

Always interested in writing, Mary Downing Hahn became a children's author only after experimenting with a wide variety of careers, from junior high school art teacher to college instructor to children's librarian. Today she is the author of more than twenty books that have appeared on countless state awards lists. Her stories run the gamut from historical fiction such as the popular Gordy trilogy, to ghost stories such as Wait Till Helen Comes and Look for Me by Moonlight. Her most recent work, Anna All Year Round, is a gentle and heartwarming story based on her own mother's diaries.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A serious, troubling study of teenage rebellion and idealism is combined with a story about the harsh realities of the lives of the homeless and the legacy of the Vietnam War. Kelly finds herself at odds with everyone: her best friend has turned into a giggling shopper; Keith ``can't'' be her friend anymore because he's male; she is ashamed of her mother's career as a greeting card artist; and she's estranged from her combative lawyer father. Kelly wants to be a real artist and go to art school, but she won't even graduate from high school unless she completes a social studies paper. After seeing Mr. Weems, a strange bagman in the library, Kelly decides to tackle the issue of the homeless by interviewing him. Her growing obsession with him leads her straight into her father's own unacknowledged despair over his experience in Vietnam; Mr. Weems is also a veteran. And while Kelly learns that good intentions don't always change things for the better, she also contributes to the healing of both her father and herself in a sensitively rendered final scene at the Vietnam War Memorial. From the author of Daphne's Song and Tallahassee Higgins , among other titles, comes another fine novela realistic look at the ongoing pain in the aftermath of war. Ages 10-14. (September)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9 There are two climactic scenes in Hahn's new novel: one in which a homeless man is killed in a traffic accident after being barred from the library; and a powerful, moving, and convincing chapter set at the Vietnam War Memorial, in which the protagonist's father finally comes to grips with his war experiences. Yet there is no clear focus to the novel, and no direction to any of the myriad other issues that Hahn tackles: adolescent angst, individuality and conformity, the homeless, Vietnam veterans, library policies on vagrants, and more. None get the treatment that they deserve, and the story suffers as it meanders. An underachieving, show-off type high-school freshman who is trying to carve a niche for herself among her friends and her family, Kelly is concerned for a homeless, possibly deranged man whose troubles are a result of his experiences in Vietnam. This teen, who does well in an honors English class but almost fails other academic subjects and finds refuge in the children's section of the library, who abhors the shallowness of her friends' interests but acts smart alecky to gain their approval, comes across as being more inconsistent than three dimensional. The moments of great writing here serve only to underscore those too-abundant plot elements that do not work. David Gale, ``School Library Journal''

Read More

Product Details

Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.34(w) x 6.96(h) x 0.73(d)
Age Range:
11 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

When I left Mr. Poland's classroom, I saw Julie wring for me by my locker, but she was too busy fussing with her hair to notice me walking toward her. She had a little mirror in one hand, her comb in the other, and she was staring at her reflection as if she expected it to speak to her.

"You, my queen, are the fairest of them all " I whispered in the sort of voice I imagined a magic mirror might have.

"Kelly, where have you been? It's ten past three." Julie tossed her hair once more, fluffing it with her hands.

"Mr. Poland wanted to talk to me about my current issues paper. He says I can't prove God is dead, I have to write about something more concrete."

"I knew he wouldn't approve a topic like that."

I shrugged. "He said he wanted us to pick controversial subjects, didn't he?"

"He meant stuff like abortion and child abuse and drunk driving, and you know it." Julie peeked at her reflection one more time, frowned, and thrust her mirror into her other pocket.

"Those are all so boring." I grabbed her comb and ran it through my hair. Why, I don't know. les so short and curly it looks the same no matter what I do to it.

"So? That's what school's all about, doing boring things over and over." Julie snatched her comb and watched me rum the dial on my combination lock. "It prepares you for real life," she went on. "You know, getting a job and going to the same old place every day, cooking the same old meals every night,watching the same old shows on TV till you fall asleep,

"That may be the kind of life you're preparing for but not me." Yanking open my locker, I jumped back as an avalanche of books,papers, gym shoes, and umbrellas spewed out.

"When are you going to clean that locker out, McAllister?' Mr. Gleicher, the principal, appeared out of nowhere, one of his specialties. "les a safety hazard."

He was making it sound like a joke, but I could tell he wasn't pleased. Picking up my scattered belongings, I said, "I know it looks like junk, but it's for a project I'm working on in art, sir. Miss Young wants us to make collages of our most cherished personal belongings, so I'm saving all my old homework papers for it."

Mr. Gleicher frowned which didn't surprise me. A senior might have been able to get away with a little impudence but not a lowly ninth grader, especially one he'd just called a super underachiever in our last interview. Nudging a wizened apple with the toe of his shiny loafer, he said, "What's this?"

I picked it up by the stem and watched it slowly revolve. It gave off a faint odor of decay. "My shrunken head;' I cried. "I thought Id lost it forever! My greatuncle Stanley, the famous explorer, brought it back from the Amazon. les good luck, you know, like a rabbit's foot."

"Quit clowning and throw it in the trash, McAllister" Mr. Gleicher scowled at me. "Im going to inspect this locker tomorrow, and if it isn't in good shape, you can spend an hour in my office after school."

Turning his attention to Julie who hadn't opened her mouth once, he said, "And you, Sinclair. If you find this so entertaining, you'd better make sure your locker is clean too."

As he walked away, Julie stared at me. "Kelly, are you crazy?"

I crossed my eyes and danced around her, giggling. "Who, me? Me crazy? Me?"

She laughed then and helped me clean out my locker. That's why she's been my best friend since kindergarten -- she puts up with every wacky thing I do and never gets mad at me, at least not for long.

"You have four umbrellas, Kelly" Julie held them up. "A red one, a blue one, a big black bumbershoot, and what looks like your dad's golf umbrella."

"You know me. I'm so into fashion I have to color coordinate everything, even my umbrellas."

I struck a pose with the golf umbrella. My dad had just missed it last week and was still searching for it. During his cross-examination, I'd claimed complete ignorance of its whereabouts, having conveniently forgotten I'd been forced to take it to school the last time it rained. What else was I supposed to do? Every other umbrella was already in my locker.

Julie, who of course is truly into fashion, ran a practiced eye over my paint-splattered sweatshirt, faded jeans, and worn-out running shoes. She watched me pull on my father's old army jacket and wrap a long striped scarf around my neck "Right," she said. "Color coordination explains it all. "

As we left school, we cut across the soccer field to take a shortcut home through the woods. One of the nice things about a planned community like Adelphia, maybe the only nice thin& is the open space concept , the brainstorm of one of its developers. The builders had to set aside areas of woods and fields for tot lots and footpaths, and, as a result, you can walk for miles with nothing around you but trees and squirrels and an occasional groundhog or possum.

"So what are you going to write about, Kelly?" Julie turned up the collar of her jacket to shield her face from the cold.

"I don't know." I watched the November sun and wind play with Julie's hair, tossing it and making it shine red-gold.

"Didn't Mr. Poland give you any ideas?"

"Are you kidding? I don't think he'd recognize an idea if it fell out of the sky and hit him on die head." I opened the bumbershoot...

December Stillness. Copyright � by Mary Hahn. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >