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3.6 6
by Helen Frost

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When Wren Abbott and Darra Monson are eight years old, Darra's father steals a minivan. He doesn't know that Wren is hiding in the back. The hours and days that follow change the lives of both girls. Darra is left with a question that only Wren can answer. Wren has questions, too. 

Years later, in a chance encounter at camp, the girls face each other


When Wren Abbott and Darra Monson are eight years old, Darra's father steals a minivan. He doesn't know that Wren is hiding in the back. The hours and days that follow change the lives of both girls. Darra is left with a question that only Wren can answer. Wren has questions, too. 

Years later, in a chance encounter at camp, the girls face each other for the first time. They can finally learn the truth—that is, if they’re willing to reveal to each other the stories that they’ve hidden for so long. Told from alternating viewpoints, this novel-in-poems reveals the complexities of memory and the strength of a friendship that can overcome pain.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Many teen readers will identify with Wren and Darra and how events that happened to us when we were younger help shape the person we become." —VOYA


"Beginning with a horrific story of an accidental kidnapping, this poetic novel is impossible to put down....A masterpiece!"  —Shirley Mullin, Kids Ink Children's Bookstore


“Like Frost’s Printz Honor Book, Keesha’s House (2003), this novel in verse stands out through its deliberate use of form to illuminate emotions and cleverly hide secrets in the text.” —Booklist

Children's Literature - Dawna Lisa Buchanan
In free verse, this novel tells of two young girls and how their lives collide. Wren Abbot was eight, "...a happy little girl wearing a pink dress, sitting in our gold minivan, dancing with my doll, Karmara" (page 3). Her mother runs into a convenience store for a moment, leaving the keys in the ignition. Wren hears a gun shot. Then a strange man jumps into the car and drives away, unaware that Wren is crouching, hidden, in the back. He drives to a house and leaves the car in the garage. Wren lives in fear for days, hiding and trying to figure out how to escape. The girl who lives in the house, Darra, realizes that the girl on the news is hiding in their garage, and leaves small gifts of food for her. Wren finally escapes, and Darra's father is arrested. Years later, the girls meet at summer camp, and uneasily come to terms with their secret, past connection. Frost lets each girl speak of the experience in her own voice, alternating chapters so that readers have a chance to appreciate the complexity of the situation for both characters. Readers are tempted to despise the hapless father, until the author tells them to read the last word in the longest lines "spoken" by Darra. Then we learn what happened to her father and how he came to be so unhappy. Frost doesn't pull punches: once, the man slaps his wife, violence unimaginable to Wren, results. Finally the girls become close friends, and we are left wondering if Darra and her mother will choose to see the father again when he is released from jail. Reviewer: Dawna Lisa Buchanan
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—An eight-year-old waits in the family's minivan while her mother goes into a convenience store. When she hears a gunshot, she scrambles to hide under a blanket in the back, and then someone rushes into the van and drives away without knowing she's there. This novel in verse is told in two first-person voices. Wren is the girl in the van, and Darra (also age eight) is the daughter of the man who robs the store and inadvertently kidnaps Wren. He drives home, and she's trapped in their garage for several days before she escapes. Darra is aware of her presence and tries to come up with a plan that won't implicate her father, but Wren is already gone. The book then jumps ahead six years, to the summer camp in Michigan where the two girls meet. This original blend of crime tale, psychological study, and friendship story is a page-turner that kids will love. There are a few plausibility issues, but there are many more strengths. Wren's captivity in the garage is truly suspenseful, and the various interactions of the kids at the sleepover camp are a study in shifting alliances. The book also touches on some deeper issues, like how you can love a parent who is sometimes abusive, and how sensitive kids can blame themselves for things that aren't really their fault. Smoothly written, this novel carries a message of healing and hope.—Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL
Kirkus Reviews

From the award-winning Frost comes a wildly imaginative, thought-provoking novel in verse that centers on the unlikely friendship that arises between two teenage girls as a result of an accidental kidnapping. Darra Monson's father, an abusive, unemployed mechanic, steals a minivan, not knowing that 8-year-old Wren Abbott, daughter of the local school superintendent, lies hidden in the back. Told entirely from her perspective, Wren's unwitting capture and eventual escape comprise the first third of thestory before the narration switches to Darra, who relates how her father is caught and imprisoned, all the while blaming Wren for his arrest. Though from opposite sides of the tracks, Darra and Wren's paths cross again six years later at summer camp, where the 14-year-olds see each other for the first time. Slowly the two begin to unpack that uninvited trauma. After breaking the ice and overcoming Wren's nearly drowning Darra, the two begin to talk, and Frost's lyric narrative resolves movingly by alternating between the two protagonists. Frost's tale exhibits her trademark character development that probes the complexities of intimate relationships. Here Wren's touching statement, "I was a happy little girl / wearing a pink dress," eventually leads to Darra's private admission to Wren: "None of it was our fault." Both tender and insightful, this well-crafted, fast-paced tale should have wide teen appeal. (notes on form)(Poetry. 10-16)

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)
HL670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt


By Helen Frost


Copyright © 2011 Helen Frost
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-9636-9


Part One

The Way You Might Remember Your Best Friend

Wren Abbott


    I was a happy little girl wearing a pink dress,
      sitting in our gold minivan,
      dancing with my doll, Kamara.

          I'll be right back, Mom promised.
          Leave the music on, I begged,
            so she left her keys
          while she
            ran in to pay for gas
            and buy a Diet Coke.


    I think about that little girl
      the way you might remember your best friend
            who moved away.
          Sitting in the middle seat
          beside an open window,
            her seatbelt fastened,
            she looked out at the world.


    And then she heard
      a gunshot
      from inside the store.

    That's when she — when I —
      stopped breathing.
          I clicked my seatbelt off,
          dived into the back, and
          ducked down on the floor
            to hide
            under a blanket
            until Mom
            came back out.
    I heard the car door open, heard it close.
      The music stopped.
      Why? Mom liked that song.

    I breathed again. (Mom smelled like cigarettes.)

    I pushed the blanket off my face,
      opened my mouth
      to ask,
        What happened in there?

    But then I heard a word Mom wouldn't say.
      A man's voice.
      C'mon! Start! He was yelling at our car —
          and the car
          obeyed him.
          It started up
          just like it thought
            Mom was driving.


    Who was driving?
    Had this man just shot someone? Had he
      shot ... Mom?
    If he found out I was back there
      what would he do to me?
      I pulled the blanket back over my face.
        (Pretend you're Kamara.
        Don't breathe. Don't move.
        Be as small as you can — smaller.)

    Sand on the floor of the car. I pressed hard.
      It stuck to my skin.
      I pressed harder.
        if you have to,
        but don't move a muscle.)

    Like a small rabbit
      that knows a cat is close by,
      I paid attention. I didn't


    I could tell which way we were headed —
      we stopped at the King Street stoplight.
        Left turn ... right turn ... left ...
        He sped up.
      Was he trying to throw the police off our trail?

    He stopped, got out of the car.
    Where were we?
    He got back in,
          drove off faster.

      Yes — coming closer!

    One time in first grade,
      a police officer came to our class.
        "If someone tries to grab you," she said,
        "wave your arms, kick your legs.
        Yell at the top of your lungs,

    The sirens meant
      someone might stop us —
        I could jump up.
        I could wave.
        I could yell.

    But it didn't happen.
    We drove faster, farther.
      The sirens
        faded away in the distance.

    Long straight road ... curvy road ...
    Fast for a while. No stops.
      Right turn.
      Left turn.
        Stop. Go. Turn ...
        I swallowed the panic that rose.
          I didn't throw up.


    Sound of gravel. Dust in my throat.
    (Don't cough!)
    Bumping along that dusty road,
      screaming inside.
      (Dad, where are you? Mom?)
        A phone rang — Dad's ring on Mom's phone!
        Mom must have left her phone in the car.
          Her whole purse, down on the floor?

      (Do not — do not! — jump up and grab it.)
      I clenched my hands together.

    GPS, the man snarled — I heard him dump
        Mom's purse upside down.
        He opened a window.
        He closed it.

    (Did he just toss Mom's phone out the window?)

    I put my thumb in my mouth
      like a little baby. I pulled my knees
        to my chin, and closed my eyes tight.

    Where were we going?
    What would happen to me when we got there?

    After a long time —
      it felt like hours —
        the car slowed down.
      We made a sharp turn.
    We stopped.
    He got out.
    I heard a garage door open.
    He got back in the car.
      The garage door came down.
        The car door opened, slammed shut.
      I heard a dog.
        Barking or growling?
        In the garage or outside?
      Another door opened
          and closed.
          Had the man gone somewhere?


    Carefully, I pushed back the blanket
      and looked around.
      I was alone
        in a very dark place.

    I might have been wrong about Mom's phone.
      I kept my head low,
        climbed into the middle seat,
          leaned far enough forward
          so I could see into the front.
      Mom's water bottle — not quite empty.
      A chocolate chip granola bar.
      Her little album of pictures —
          me and Alex, her and Dad.
    No wallet — she took that into the store.
    No phone.


    Where was I?
    A messy garage — rakes and shovels,
      gas cans and broken-down boxes.

    In the garage door,
      higher than I could reach,
      three small windows,
      a few rays of sun shining through them.
        Behind an old freezer —
        a door — to outside?

      A red-and-white boat
      on a trailer
      right next to the car.

    If I could get out fast enough, he'd never know I was there.
      I told myself what to do, and I did it:
        Quietly — get out of the car with Kamara.
        Take the granola bar. Leave the water —
          if I take that, he might notice it's gone.
        Carefully tiptoe across the floor.
          (The dog — outside — still growl-barking.)
        Squeeze behind the freezer.
          Try to open the side door.

            with a padlock
            the size of my fist.


    The freezer was empty, unplugged — it wouldn't be cold.
    Could I get inside, and hide there?
      No. A boy on the news
        got stuck inside an old freezer —
        he suffocated to death
          before his mom found him.
            I shivered.
      The boat?
          I might be tall enough
            to climb in
            if I stepped up on the trailer.

    But I didn't dare move.


    I don't know how long
      I stood there
      in my pink dress,
      mostly hidden
      behind the freezer.


    A light came on. A door opened.
      I stopped breathing.

    From another room, I heard
      happy voices —
        real people or on a TV?
        It was a TV — this was someone's house.

    The man came out,
      opened the car door, closed it,
      went back inside.
      I was pretty sure
        he didn't look
          over at me.


    I had to do something.
    I ran to the boat
      and climbed in.
    It was full of fishing stuff:
      nets and ropes
      a tackle box
      fishing poles
      a rusty coffee can.

      A blue cloth, partly stretched
        over the boat —
          could I hide under that?

    At the boat's pointed end, a triangular place,
      like a little cave — I just fit.

    A gray rag?
    No — an old sweatshirt
      wadded up on the floor of the boat.
      I put it on — it covered my dress.
      I could hide in the boat
      for a while.


    I was hungry. Mom always said,
      Eat something, Wren. It helps you think.
        I unwrapped the granola bar, took one bite.
        One more. Another.
    I tried to think.
      Could I open the garage door?
      If it was something to lift — could I lift it?
        What if you had to know certain numbers to push?

    If the door opened, he'd hear me.

    Sooner or later, he'd leave the house. He had to.
      Did anyone live there with him?

    The dog barked louder.
      It was outside, but not far away.
          Had anyone fed it?

    Through the windows in the garage door,
          the sky
          got darker and darker.


    Someone turned on a light
      and opened the door from the house.

    I thought I heard something out here.
      (A girl's voice?)

    I didn't move, curled up in the boat,
      clutching Kamara so hard
      I thought she might break.

    The man again, from inside:
      Shut that door! Stay out of there!
        You heard me — I SAID —
      The light went off. The door slammed shut.
      It sounded like somebody banged up against it.
        The girl yelled, Ow! Quit it! That hurt!
    Then it got quiet.
    After that,
      for a long time,
      nothing happened.


    The garage door went up.
    The light came on.
      Somewhere outside, a car door opened and closed.
    I heard someone
      walk through the garage
      and open the door to the house.

    A woman's voice: What's this car doing here?
    The man: How many times do I have to tell you
          stay out of my business.
    The woman: You keep a stolen car in our garage,
          it's my business.

    The light went off.
    The garage door closed.
    The other door slammed.
    I heard shouting inside the house.
    I couldn't hear words,
      but the man's voice was loud
        and mean.


    I was shaking.
      Trying hard not to cry.
    How could I sleep
      in the crowded boat?
    I was thirsty.
    I had to pee.


    The light came on. The door from the house flew open.
      The woman: This is the car they're searching for!
        What happened
        to Wren Abbott?

      A voice on TV: Once again,
        the child is eight years old.
        Last seen wearing a pink dress,
        with matching beads in her hair.
        She may be holding a doll
        she calls Kamara.
        If you have any information
          please call —


    The TV cut off.
    The man: Nothing to do with me!
      You think I'm some kind of pervert,
      taking a little kid?

    (What's a pervert?)

    The woman: Of course not. But, West,
      did you check the backseat
      when you got in the car?

    (The man's name is West.)

    West: No! There wasn't time!
      None of this worked like we planned, Stacey.
      No one was going to get shot.

    (Who got shot?)
    (The woman is Stacey.)

    I heard the car doors — opening, closing.

    Stacey: She's not in the car.
      Where is she?

    West: Maybe she got out when I stopped
      in the parking lot — I took a few minutes
      to take the plate off another car
      and put it on this one.

    (That time he stopped — could I have jumped out?)

    Stacey: If she was lost in a parking lot,
      someone would have found her by now.
      They've been searching for more than six hours!

    West: They can keep searching.
      Tomorrow, we paint the car.
      We ditch it.
      Nothing to pin on me.

    Stacey: West — this girl is Darra's age!
      We can call from a pay phone — anonymously —
      tell them Wren Abbott is not in the car they're searching for.
      At least we know that much!

    (The girl is Darra.)

    West: We know NOTHING. You hear me?
    Stacey: Let go of me!

    I'd never heard
      the sound of one person hitting another,
        but I knew
        that was what happened.

    Stacey stopped talking.
      Started crying.

    The door slammed again.
      More yelling. Crashing sounds.


Excerpted from Hidden by Helen Frost. Copyright © 2011 Helen Frost. Excerpted by permission of Macmillan.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Helen Frost is the author of several books for young people, including Diamond Willow, Crossing Stones, The Braid, and Keesha’s House, selected an Honor Book for the Michael L. Printz Award. Helen Frost was born in Brookings, South Dakota, the fifth of ten children. She recalls the summer her family moved from South Dakota to Oregon, traveling in a big trailer and camping in places like the Badlands and Yellowstone. Her father told the family stories before they went to sleep, and Helen would dream about their travels, her family, and their old house. “That’s how I became a writer,” she says. “I didn’t know it at the time, but all those things were accumulating somewhere inside me.”


As a child, she loved to travel, think, swim, sing, learn, canoe, write, argue, sew, play the piano, play softball, play with dolls, daydream, read, go fishing, and climb trees. Now, when she sits down to write, her own experiences become the details of her stories. Helen has lived in South Dakota, Oregon, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, Scotland, Colorado, Alaska, California, and Indiana. She currently lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with her family.

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Hidden 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
Poetry sure has changed over the years. To express the words spilling out from their hearts, authors do not have to fill in the paragraphs but they are allowed to follow their own rhythm, to create a music masterpiece on the page. To form a dance with the words on a blank script, an illusion for all to read and notice. For some readers, they feel the magnitude of the words, they understand the power and the drama these words provide and for others, these words offer confusion. The confusion lies for the words seems out of place, they are dancing out of line, there is no structure in a world where the reader needs it. For everyone is different and poetry is just another form of reading, you feel it and can understand the merit behind its language or you can’t. In Hidden, this book is told in alternating viewpoints using poetry. Wren was waiting for her mother in the car when it gets hijacked. Safely hidden in the backseat, she finds herself in Darra’s garage, hidden from police. The TV shouts the news about the hijacking, the shots fired, and the missing child. The hijackers did not realize that Wren was in the vehicle when they drove off with it and now, it’s too late. Darra is wondering if Wren is in her garage and what she can do now. They are both the same age and she realizes how scared she must be. With the situation escalating, the tension building, Wren realizes she hasn’t much time to react. I feel as if I am scanning the garage, finding anything to help the situation, I see it as soon as Wren recognizes it and she quick, she’s not wasting any time. The story fast-forward’s six years and somehow they end up at the same camp (this is amazing, I feel) and it wasn’t long before they realize how they are connected. Over the past six years, their lives have been affected by this dramatic event and now they have to deal with facing each other. It’s the pace of the story, the rhythm and the tone as it slides up and down that makes or breaks this story for the reader. It’s amazing to me how an author can create such a story using poetry, how they can create this dramatic event using short lines and few words. This author also included a special trick; using the long lines of her poetry she has the readers draw special attention to one word to create another story line. This additional story line was not revealed until the acknowledgments in the back of the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
HIDDEN Helen Frost Locked up in a garage, Wren waited for her chance to escape. She was past scared. She was terrified. Hidden by Helen Frost is an intense story about an eight-year-old girl named Wren. Wren Abbot was a small girl waiting for her mom to come back to the car. When she heard a gunshot she flew to the back of the car. Next thing you know she was in a man’s garage. While she was scared to death she found out that a girl her age named Darra was living in the house. Six years later Wren meets a girl named Darra. Darra remembers Wren and doesn’t want to. To me this book was very good and I definitely couldn’t stop reading. It’s very dramatic and full of suspense. I am not a huge fan of reading, but even so I enjoyed this book so much. I recommend Hidden to any type of readers especially ones with a love for dramatic books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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KRobertsKR More than 1 year ago
My 12 yr old son absolutely loved this book: it remains his current favorite; several of his friends have wanted to buy it now, based on my son's description. The story touches on very dark, scary subject matter but keeps the reader safe--thus it is appropriate for many ages, but particularly starting at 11 yrs old. In addition, the book's structure is uniquely clever (giving the title an additional meaning)--I won't give it away--that I recommend this book for use in school. As an adult, I read the book and couldn't put it down.
DonnaMarieMerritt More than 1 year ago
During a morning of thunderstorms, I sat down to read a few pages of a novel by Printz Honor Book Author, Helen Frost. I didn't put down HIDDEN until I had finished. In two distinct poetic voices, the author explores the eternal themes of friendship, forgiveness, and family. Darra and Wren meet in person for the first time at age fourteen, but their story begins six years before that. As layers of emotion are peeled back and strata of truth revealed, the girls (and reader) discover that we never really know what it is like to be in someone else's place. Middle grade, young adult, and adults will all find a treasure here (and be sure to read "Diving Deeper: Notes on Form" at the end).