From the Publisher
“* Put this book in the hands of both the girls who follow every moment of the latest teen celebrity's life and the quiet boys and girls who stand on the sidelines, listening for their song.” School Library Journal, starred review
“* Her audience will eat it up.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“An entertaining read.” Booklist
“Wish-fulfillment appeal for many a young reader.” BCCB
After completely choking during the live televised finals of an American Idol–type show, 11-year-old musical prodigy Elvis Ruby (who was heavily favored to win) hides from the paparazzi at his Aunt Emily’s humble pancake restaurant in New Jersey’s Pinelands. Though he cuts and dyes his trademark black curly hair and introduces himself to the townsfolk as Aaron, his identity is quickly uncovered by Cecilia, a friendless seventh-grader undergoing a musical crisis of her own. Marino’s (Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me) affection for New Jersey’s coastal preserve shines through in her descriptions of its natural beauty, not to mention the way the pancake house showcases its natural resources with its red (cranberry), white (plain), and blueberry stacks. But a subplot about the legendary Jersey Devil, also famed to be hiding in the Pine Barrens, doesn’t add enough to warrant its inclusion, and until the paparazzi finally arrive, not a lot happens. That said, the warmth and humor of the story will help carry readers through to its satisfying conclusion. Ages 8–12. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Keri Collins Lewis
After eleven-year-old reality TV sensation Elvis Ruby freezes on stage only moments before claiming the title of TweenStar, the paparazzi that had been his allies instantly become his enemies. Desperate to escape his humiliation, Elvis leaves his hotel hidden in a bag of laundry and ends up in New Jersey's Pinelands, at his aunt's house and pancake restaurant. Elvis and his family hope the combination of a new name with a new haircut and hair color will disguise the famous musician long enough for the media frenzy to die down. But a $10,000 reward for information about his whereabouts, and the previous years with zero privacy, keep Elvis looking over his shoulder, especially when Wares Grove resident Cecilia discovers his identity. She promises not to tell his secret if he will help her find the song heard in the woods the day she was born. But, as Elvis and Cecilia discover, secrets have a way of spreading, especially in small towns where everybody seems to know everybody else. In this novel, Marino cooks up a story of an unlikely friendship by pairing a jet-setting musical prodigy enamored by his own charisma and talent with a friendless small-town girl who could not carry a tune in a pancake batter bowl. Family ties, identity, and growing pains are the novel's melody, but Marino deftly pens a beautiful story of dreamers managing to pursue their passionsin both big and small waysby listening to the music within. This fun story is a sure hit with kids fascinated by pop culture, and a solid choice for library collections because of its humor and excellent storytelling. Reviewer: Keri Collins Lewis
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Internationally known, super-famous Elvis Ruby gets stage fright and freezes up in front of millions of people, on live TV. Where can he hide? Marino deposits the 11-year-old in the Pinelands of New Jersey at a family friend's small breakfast diner, where he hopes to get the anonymity he needs and a break from the relentless paparazzi who follow his every move. Elvis cuts his trademark locks, dyes his hair a mousy brown, and goes incognito as Aaron. However, when you have that sparkle in your eyes and that pizzazz in your personality, incognito can be a difficult place to be. And a chance meeting with a girl named Cecilia threatens to disrupt the very calm that Aaron needs. Family legend has it that on the night she was born, the trees sang. Cecilia is desperate to hear that song again, to know that it really happened, and that even the nonmusical people of the world really do have a song hidden within their soul. Can Aaron help her regain hers at the same time that she inadvertently helps him regain his, without blowing his cover? Marino has written a timely and expertly executed novel about what it means to discover yourself. Aaron and Cecilia are both likable and flawed at the same time. Their desire to find themselves as they stumble through the shadows of the trees late at night is a wonderful metaphor for adolescence. Put this book in the hands of both the girls who follow every moment of the latest teen celebrity's life and the quiet boys and girls who stand on the sidelines, listening for their song.—Lisa Kropp, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
A pair of not-yet-teenagers finds common ground searching for their personal music in New Jersey's Pinelands. Pop culture, Pinelands' folklore, the power of music and the short-lived nature of secrets are the ingredients of this satisfying story, told by an omniscient narrator. According to her loving parents, the scrubby pine trees sang when Cecilia was born. Now nearly 11, awkward and out of sync with classmates, she searches the woods for that song. When a new boy comes to stay with the owner of her small town's only restaurant, she learns his secret and enlists his help. Aaron is actually superstar musician Elvis Ruby, hiding out after freezing on national television during what was supposed to be his winning performance on the TweenStar reality show. Aaron truly is a musical talent with star qualities, straining to pass as an ordinary kid; Cecilia can't carry or recognize a tune and has no rhythm, but she, too, would like to be more like the other young people she knows. No secret can be kept forever, but before Wares Grove is overwhelmed with paparazzi looking for Elvis, there is time for both of these appealing preteens to become more comfortable in their own skins. That this author knows and loves this part of her state is clear. Her audience will eat it up. (Fiction. 9-12)
Read an Excerpt
Where the Hiders Go
If you need somewhere to hide, try the Pinelands of New Jersey.
It’s a wild place filled with swamp streams. And sand hills. Salt marshes and bogs. There are towns too, some so small they don’t make it on the map. No one pays attention to them anyway.
For a hider, that is the beauty of the Pinelands. The entire place can go unnoticed. The trees are stubby, the paths are hard to find, and the streams are lazy and slow. Nothing about it stands out. People drive by on their way to somewhere else.
For a hider, this is good. It makes it easier to slip away.
A place like this you can trust with your secrets.
A place like this has secrets of its own.
And here’s the first.
They say that when the trees get restless they sing.
But it’s the Pinelands, so most people don’t notice that either.
Copyright © 1967, 1968 by John McPhee
Text copyright © 2013 by Nan Marino
Illustrations copyright © 2013 by John Hendrix