Empress of Elsewhere

Empress of Elsewhere

5.0 1
by Theresa Nelson
     
 

Ain't polite to point out what a person's got missing, Jimmy Harbert thinks, in his unmistakable east Texas twang. Joy Dolores Monroe had just referred to Jasper's tongue, which is indeed missing; the chauffeur tells all with hand signs. Not all, actually, for there are many mysteries behind the grandiose exterior of Grandmother Monroe's mansion, to which Jimmy and… See more details below

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Overview

Ain't polite to point out what a person's got missing, Jimmy Harbert thinks, in his unmistakable east Texas twang. Joy Dolores Monroe had just referred to Jasper's tongue, which is indeed missing; the chauffeur tells all with hand signs. Not all, actually, for there are many mysteries behind the grandiose exterior of Grandmother Monroe's mansion, to which Jimmy and his younger sister, Mary Al, have been cajoled to baby-sit a capuchin monkey that keeps escaping-which is more than J.D. can do. Many Monroe mysteries Jimmy must plumb for himself among the mansion's spooky passages and on the island in the lake behind it-the site of Elsewhere. With tenderness and a dramatist's sense of story, the writer opens a caged world to sunlight, and two unlikely friends, J.D. and Jimmy, to each other.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Rebecca Joseph
When Jimmy and his younger sister, Mary Al, are hired to play with their wealthy, elderly neighbor's capuchin monkey, little do they realize that the job will include spending time with the woman's troubled granddaughter, J.D. Abandoned by her mother after her father's tragic death, J.D. refuses to adapt peacefully to life with her grandmother. Gradually Jimmy and Mary Al make inroads with J.D. by creating a fantasy world on a small island on her grandmother's property (reminiscent of The Bridge to Terabithia). But just when things seems like they are going well, J.D. rebels and takes Jimmy and Mary Al on a dangerous journey to find her mother. A touching book that explores the struggles of befriending a troubled young girl.
VOYA - Richard Gercken
Jim and his younger sister are rightfully suspicious when they are given high-paying summer jobs at the mansion across the street. Luly Kate Meadowsweet Monroe does want the two to babysit her pet monkey, but she also needs playmates for J. D., her dreadful granddaughter. These three start out quarreling over who can spend the most time with the monkey and end up refurbishing a tree house on the mysterious island behind the mansion, poring into family secrets and learning about trust and responsibility. The narrator's age was not revealed until page thirty-two, at which point I was surprised by twelve-year-old Jim's descriptive powers: "The playground swings hung limp as old lettuce." Overall Jim is well-characterized, however. All the characters are superbly drawn, even J. D.'s mother who appears only once and never speaks. Nelson has perfect pitch for the speech of the east Texas hill country, and writes so well that she masks the fact that this is a familiar story about the hostile child who is lonely and needs only love. Nelson made me care about all her people, and I tore through the final suspenseful chapters as if this was not an old story. But like other books by Nelson, this may be too long of a wait for its intended audience. Pungent scenes bland out through being artificially extended. Of greater concern is who will read this book. Marketed for YAs, it is written with adult humor and adult perspective on youth's foibles. This makes me rate it 3P and S with reservations even then, because young readers do not like reading about younger kids. The one sure audience is those who know Nelson's previous books, and this reviewer is already looking forward to the next one. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-James Henry Harbert, from rural East Texas, is almost 12 and his tagalong sister, Mary Al, is 7. They are persuaded by their parents to take a summer job next door at wealthy Mrs. Monroe's, caring for her pet capuchin monkey. The elderly woman also happens to have a belligerent granddaughter staying with her, J.D. (she says her initials stand for Juvenile Delinquent, but her actual name is Joy Dolores). Gradual revelations about the girl's family-that her father died in a car accident three years earlier, that her mother is alive but not necessarily well and living in Houston, that her grandmother seems cold and distant-help to explain J.D.'s anger and sadness. Jim, an able storyteller, is often amusing. By the end, J.D. comes to accept her loss and sorrow with the help of her friends. It's the middle section of the book-all about repairing a tree house that the threesome discovers on an island-that bogs the story down, just by sheer volume. Neither the characters nor their adventures are compelling enough to sustain a high level of interest, but Nelson's insights about preadolescent grief are subtle and on the mark.-Peg Solonika, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA
Kirkus Reviews
Jim's dog has just died, and his best friend, Danny, has moved out of town, but the day the book opens takes an unusual turn when a flurry of girls run by, chasing a monkey. Turns out the escaped primate belongs to Mrs. Monroe, or, as Jim and his sister Mary Al call her, "Mrs. Million Dillion," the richest woman in town. When Jim and Mary Al catch the wayward capuchin, Mrs. Monroe offers to hire them to tame the monkey, and to tame her granddaughter, J.D. The children get along like fire and ice until the decision to fix up a ramshackle treehouse on Mrs. Monroe's property mellows J.D., and reveals how past events have that hardened her. Even with its rural Texas setting, the book harbors anachronistic elements; it's hard to believe Jim's shock when J.D. curses—-TV and the Internet have exposed children to much worse. Jim is more of a foil to J.D.'s antics than a full-blown character; he's the audience for her misbehavior. Nevertheless, Nelson (Earthshine, 1994, etc.) ensures that the action never falters, and the rush toward resolution will grip readers. (Fiction. 9-12) .

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780141308135
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
08/01/2000
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.23(w) x 7.78(h) x 0.78(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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