Overview

Ben Watson has been shuffled from foster home to foster home since he was 5 years old. Seven homes in six years. He’s gotten used to blanking folks out, leaving them behind, and waiting for the day when he can leave foster care forever. Now, at the age of 11, Ben’s just arrived at home number eight. But he’s finding it hard to blank out the Torgles, his new foster parents, and their house full of strays: the 7-year-old twins, Kate and Jango, and the baby, Grover G. Graham. Grover’s just over a year old and always...
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Grover G. Graham and Me

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Overview

Ben Watson has been shuffled from foster home to foster home since he was 5 years old. Seven homes in six years. He’s gotten used to blanking folks out, leaving them behind, and waiting for the day when he can leave foster care forever. Now, at the age of 11, Ben’s just arrived at home number eight. But he’s finding it hard to blank out the Torgles, his new foster parents, and their house full of strays: the 7-year-old twins, Kate and Jango, and the baby, Grover G. Graham. Grover’s just over a year old and always getting into trouble, but Ben can’t help liking the little guy — especially since Grover was abandoned by his teenage mother, just like Ben was. The only difference is that Grover’s mother, Tracey, is still trying to get custody of her child. But Ben is convinced Tracey will abandon Grover again. So when he gets the chance to escape from the system, Ben takes it. And he takes Grover with him.

From the Hardcover edition.

In his eighth foster home since the death of his great-grandmother, eleven-year-old Ben becomes very attached to a baby living with the same family and worries when the baby's biological mother takes him away.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Feeling about as wanted as an ugly, prickly seed ball on a sweet gum tree, eleven-year-old Ben heads for his eighth foster home. Accustomed to being temporary, he knows how to blank out words and people—until he meets the Torgles. Mr. T's perplexing words of wit and wisdom float around in his head whether he wants them or not. And what about Grover, the infant, who is also in temporary care? How can quiet Ben, who arranges his thoughts A-B-C, blank out a baby who is chaos with a capital C? To make matters worse, Ben knows all the mistakes parents can make—never changing sheets, forgetting meals, leaving you—and he can see that Grover's real mom is clearly bad-parent material. So, armed with Dr. Spock and Hop on Pop, Ben claims Grover for himself, even when it means breaking the law. Almost as memorable as Gilly Hopkins but easier to love, Ben will grab readers and not let go. A full cast of strong characters, an honest and funny child-point-of-view, and a vital story make this book a real gem. Kids will enjoy reading it as much as teachers will look forward to reading it aloud. 2001, Delacorte, $14.95. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Betty Hicks
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-A toddler's unabashed adoration and the patience and wisdom of two unlikely foster parents spark the beginning of 11-year-old Ben's healing process in this story of a summer of growth and change. Ben doesn't have high expectations when he moves in with his eighth foster family, the Torgles. He fully intends, in fact, to keep his distance and merely bide his time until a better opportunity appears. Those intentions start to slip away the minute he finds a way to quiet baby Grover, and are helped to their demise by adults who treat him with genuine caring and respect. Friction between Ben and Tracey, Grover's teenaged mom who pays periodic visits to her son, along with the descriptions of daily life in a more-than-lively household that includes seven-year-old twins, keep the book moving. The very real pain of children whose parents have failed them is tempered by scenes in which Grover demands endless readings of Hop on Pop or experiences the "dropping" stage by flinging french fries from his high chair. The minor characters are exceptionally vivid, from Tracey, who named her baby after a Sesame Street character, to Lenora, a foster child who drops the name she has always been known by as an acknowledgment of her father's purposeful abandonment. Quattlebaum captures the essence of childhood when the family has unraveled, yet has peopled her world with survivors and infused it with hope. With a much greater focus on foster care than Paula Fox's Monkey Island (Orchard, 1991), this will fill a gap in most collections.-Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Eleven-year-old Ben Watson is moving into a new foster home, his eighth. A "child of the system," i.e., the Division of Family and Child Services of the state of Virginia, Ben has closed down emotionally, because experience has taught him that it's dangerous to make relationships as "the only thing permanent about the system is that nothing is permanent." Determined not to get involved with people who he's convinced will soon reject him, Ben stays iceberg cool, keeping his interactions with his new foster family to a minimum. But almost against his will, Ben finds himself getting attached to the baby in the family, the 14-month-old Grover G. Graham, a wild handful of a kid who not only wins him over but also wakes him up emotionally. Like Ben's too-young-to-be-responsible-for-a-baby mom, Grover's biological mother dumped him and flew the coop. But now Grover's mom, who's hardly more than a kid herself, is back in the picture and trying to reclaim her maternal rights. Although it's never explicitly stated-the book is narrated in the first person by the protagonist who is unaware of his own psychological motivations-it's clear that Ben's dislike for Grover's bungling mother is rooted in his deeper, more closely held feelings of anger about his own rejection and abandonment. As the tension skillfully builds, Quattlebaum (Aunt Ceecee, Aunt Belle, and Mama's Surprise, 1999, etc.) ratchets up the stakes, thrusting her sympathetic but wrongheaded protagonist in a position where he could lose everything, finally delivering a credible, emotionally satisfying ending that will have readers reaching for their hankies. (Fiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307529121
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 5/6/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 866,718
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Mary Quattlebaum is a poet and the author of the middle-grade novel Jackson Jones and the Puddle of Thorns, and the picture books Underground Train and Aunt CeeCee, Aunt Belle, and Mama’s Surprise.

From the Hardcover edition.

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