Hush Little Baby

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Overview

When Kit's ex-stepmother thrusts a baby into her arms and speeds away, Kit's world is turned upside-down. Now she must save herself and the baby from the crazy, desperate people who want it.
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Hush Little Baby

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Overview

When Kit's ex-stepmother thrusts a baby into her arms and speeds away, Kit's world is turned upside-down. Now she must save herself and the baby from the crazy, desperate people who want it.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Rebecca Joseph
Prolific young adult writer, Cooney has written a face-paced, exciting story in which sixteen year old Kit must take care of an abandoned newborn baby. Her ex-stepmother Dusty left her with the baby, and also left Kit with many unanswered questions including the baby's parentage. During an action packed day, Kit must care for the baby and handle the three people who claim the baby is theirs. With the unexpected help of a prospective boyfriend and his nine-year-old sister, Kit unravels the dangerous mystery surrounding the baby.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780590819749
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/1/1999
  • Pages: 272
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Lexile: 790L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.24 (w) x 6.83 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

CAROLINE B. COONEY has written more than 75 novels for young adults. Her books have sold more than fifteen million copies and have been printed in many languages. She lived in Connecticut for many years, but has recently moved to South Carolina. Please visit her online at carolinebcooneybooks.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Hush Little Baby


By Caroline B. Cooney

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 1999 Caroline B. Cooney
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4532-6421-8


CHAPTER 1

The day was very still. No cloud touched the blue sky. No garage door was open. No child was outdoors. No radio played. Automatic sprinklers had lifted and well-behaved water sprinkled neatly on green lawns.

Kit unlocked the front door of her father's vacant house and stood on the threshold like a stranger. This doorway was where she felt the divorce most intensely.

A few years ago, when Mom and Dad split and Mom remarried, it had been decided that Kit and Mom would move to New Jersey with Mom's new husband, Malcolm. There was little fighting between her parents about the decision to take Kit from her California roots and from Dad. Dad loved extravagant gestures, so he just bought a second house near Mom's new one, and commuted between New Jersey and California. The new houses were in Seven Hills, a spread-fingered development of dead-end roads circling a beautiful golf course.

The air inside Dad's house was stale, because Dad was in Los Angeles for two weeks, sometimes three. Dad and his partners created TV specials and he was always hunting down concepts and ideas. His second business involved sales to Japan and China, and his partner for that was in Seattle. But whenever he could, he'd fly in to Newark Airport, drive to Seven Hills, and live a quarter mile from Mom and Malcolm and Kit. This had been going on for two years, and they hadn't had too many major breakdowns. What with e-mail, fax, and overnight delivery, Dad could work anyplace, and he appeared to enjoy coast-to-coast living.

Shades and drapes were drawn, the rooms dark and silent. Kit shut off the alarms so she could leave the door open.

Dad had not brought a single thing from the California house in which Kit had grown up and which he'd kept after the divorce. He wanted the California house to be exactly the same for when Kit visited.

So when he bought the house in Seven Hills, he placed an order with a decorator, and slowly the decorator's choice of furniture and paintings, candlesticks and curtains filled the place. The decorator had a key, and whenever Kit came over there would be new pillows on the sofa, new avant-garde photographs carefully placed on a wall.

It was not a hotel, because the decorator had added so much stuff, and yet it was exactly like a hotel, because nothing in the house was Dad's or Kit's. Dad had maid service and yard service, and all he did was check in now and then, and the towels were sure to be clean and neatly folded.

Dusty had momentarily imposed her presence on the house: clothing, shoes, doll collection, and fashion magazines. But when Dusty left, there was no trace of her, just the way there was no trace of the people who had stayed at a hotel before you.

Kit had come to get a particular sweatshirt, and she had not walked from Mom and Malcolm's house using the sidewalks, but had followed the rough edges of the golf course. She loved the hummocks of tall grass, the hanging tree branches, and the need to watch out for golfers who couldn't hit straight. She'd skulk through the heavy shrubbery and for a minute or two she wouldn't be sixteen, but a little girl with secrets, vanishing to her hiding place.

When Kit heard a car coming down the short dead-end lane, she thought it was the mail carrier, a chubby, happy woman who gave Milk-Bones to dogs and lollipops to toddlers. No mail was delivered here, of course, but Mom and Malcolm got a vast quantity, being people who ordered from every catalog that ever arrived.

But the car that whipped into the driveway was no mail person.

It was Kit's ex-stepmother, Dusty.

The cul-de-sac was too short for a car to gather much speed, but Dusty had managed speed. Screeching up the driveway, Dusty lurched to a halt and then yanked the parking brake so hard the car bucked. Dusty was a poor driver, but she knew it and usually drove slowly to make up for it — so slowly that she was frequently rear-ended. Dusty's car was constantly in the shop being repaired. Probably that was why Kit didn't recognize this car; it was a loaner from the shop.

Dusty leaped out of her plain black sedan without glancing at the house, so she didn't see Kit. She tugged frantically at the door to the backseat, but it was locked. Whimpering with frustration, Dusty reached back inside the driver's door and over to the rear to release the lock. Then she pulled the door open, leaned way inside, and struggled to move something.

Dusty hadn't turned off the engine, but the car wasn't moving; for once she must have remembered to put it in park and set the brake. Over the peaceful hum of the engine, Kit could hear a little row of sobs, hiccups of distress.

Kit was very sorry she had chosen this particular moment to arrive at the house. She had plenty of sweatshirts at home. Forget the original plan. She would gently and swiftly close the door before Dusty saw her, and flit out the back so they would not cross paths.

Poor Dusty was well named. She did much better on the shelf than actually out there in the world trying to function. Considering the life Dad led — two coasts, two careers, two secretaries, two families — it was inconceivable that he would fall for a woman who could barely manage two phone calls. It wasn't long after his marriage to Dusty that Dad was just embarrassed, and wanted Dusty to go.

Dusty clung on, and only Kit was nice to her, because Kit felt awful for people who didn't have much brains.

Even now, fussing around in the backseat, unable to shift whatever she was after, Dusty was visibly confused. Finally she straightened up. She shifted her body in a hip to the left, hip to the right sort of way, and turned to face the house. She was bent over an enormous white plastic thing, hung with cloth.

"Kit!" cried Dusty. An expression of true delight crossed Dusty's face. She scurried up the brick walk, calling, "Kit! Kit! Kit!" Dusty liked repeating words. "Oh, Kit!" she cried. "Kit, this is so wonderful, you can help me, I had no idea you would be here, I thought the house would be empty!"

It was certainly supposed to be empty. Dad was in California, and he and Dusty were no longer married. Dusty no longer had possessions here and wasn't supposed to have a key. She wasn't the revenge type; this wasn't going to be an armload of dead roses. But what could Dusty be doing here?

Kit felt a sort of affection for Dusty.

Dusty looked terrible. Kit had never seen her anything other than beautifully dressed and coordinated. (If there was one thing Dusty did well, it was accessorize.) Usually her long, shiny gold hair curved along her shoulders, swinging and free. Now for the first time, Kit realized that Dusty dyed her hair, because the roots were dark and revolting. Dusty needed a shampoo, and her clothing did not fit and was wrinkled.

Dusty? For whom fashion and makeup were the two major reasons to be alive?

"Oh, Dusty!" she said. "What's wrong? Come on in. I'll get you something cold to drink." Whatever this was, Kit would have to solve it. Dad wanted no part of Dusty's pathetic problems, because they were always rooted in stupid decisions. Anyway, he was in California. Mom and Malcolm might be nearby, but nothing was going to make them sympathetic. Kit could not imagine telling Mom that Dusty had surfaced.

Dad had met the stunningly pretty Dusty at the country club, and astonished everybody by marrying her about a minute later. Poor Dusty was not much of a wife, companion, stepmother, or asset. She didn't even play a good game of golf, because it was an intelligent sport. Malcolm said the best sport for Dusty was probably watching them on television. Mom said often to Dad, "She has a room temperature IQ, Gavin. How on earth did you not notice before you actually married the creature?"

And it would be Kit having to say, "Dusty tries, Mom," while her three parents rolled their eyes at her.

So in the awful second divorce (because all divorces were awful; only grownups could pretend that divorce was easy) poor Dusty fought and pleaded and could not understand. Dusty would telephone Kit in the evening and tell Kit what was wrong in her life, and Kit would murmur comforting sounds, which was completely the wrong thing to do. Getting involved in the divorce of a parent just lengthened the nightmare.

Dad and Mom, together and separately, had instructed Kit not to speak on the phone with Dusty again. It had been months since Kit had seen Dusty.

"Oh, thank you!" cried Dusty. "Kit, carry this for me." She thrust the big white cloth-draped thing into Kit's arms. "I'm exhausted, Kit. I can hardly think, you take it, don't drop it, oh, thank you, I'll get my own cold drink, you just take care of that."

Kit Innes looked down to see what she was taking care of.

Pink and wrinkled and slumbering at the bottom of a car carrier was a brand-new baby.


Dusty clattered over the gleaming black and white tile diamonds of the entry foyer. Her footsteps were muffled in the next room, which had a heavy carpet, and then audible again on the slick wood floor of the kitchen. The water cooler bubbled as she got herself a drink.

Kit stared down at a tiny round face.

A baby!

She set the carrier on the floor and knelt to pick up the baby. Very carefully she worked one hand behind its little head, cupping its little bottom with the other, and then she lifted it. It was wearing a little terry jumpsuit, pale yellow, with a tiny Winnie-the-Pooh. She stood up slowly, holding the baby vertically, putting its little face against her throat and nestling her cheek on its sweet bald head.

The baby smelled of powder and soap. One tiny hand curled outside the blanket, and she tucked her finger inside the little fingers, and the perfection of those tiny fingers, with their lovely tiny nails, brought her almost to tears.

She was amazed by this stab of emotion for an infant she did not know.

Through the open door came a solid shaft of yellow sun, and Kit and the baby stood in it, warm and joyful. Holding her breath, she tilted the baby into the crook of her elbow so she could admire it. Its tiny face was squashed, as if there were more cheek than there was room for. The little eyes were shut, the little mouth squished outward.

The blanket that swaddled the baby was flannel, white with yellow stars. It fell to the floor when she shifted the baby, puddling softly around her ankles. Kit brushed her lips over the baby's forehead.

"This will work," said Dusty, coming up behind them. "I am so relieved! You take care of the baby, Kit, I'll be right back." She walked out of the house.

Kit rocked, crooning little compliments. "Ooooh, sweet little baby," she whispered. "You're so beautiful. What's your name, little darling? How old are you? Are you—"

The car backed out of the driveway.

Dusty was driving.

Dusty was driving away.

Kit was holding the baby.

Kit was too startled to have intelligent thoughts.

The door was still open, so Kit stepped outside and said in a normal voice, as if Dusty were still next to her, "I thought you were getting Pampers out of the car or something, Dusty. What are you doing?"

Dusty was backing into the cul-de-sac without glancing to see what might already be there.

My ex-stepmother just handed me a baby, and she's driving away.

This was so absurd that Kit looked down to double-check. Yes. It was a baby. Yes. Dusty was leaving. Kit yelled, "Dusty! Come back here!"

Dusty pressed a window button, but of course the wrong one. The back right passenger window lowered, so whatever Dusty shouted back could not be heard.

Dusty put the car in drive while she was still in reverse, so the small black sedan lurched, whipping Dusty's head back, and then she accelerated with ridiculous speed, as if entering a racetrack, and immediately had to slow down because the cul-de-sac was so short.

Then she was out of sight, and Kit Innes was standing in the sun with a very small person in her arms.

CHAPTER 2

Muffin Mason could not wait to be older.

But then when she got older, it didn't make any difference. No matter how much time passed, she remained shorter, skinnier, had more rules, and could not reach or see as high as her brother. All summer, Muffin had ached for school to start up again, because she would be in fourth grade. But by the end of September, she realized that was all she was in — fourth grade. Her brother, in high school, had all the fun.

And even in fourth grade, Muffin was not impressive. When they did percentiles for height and weight, Muffin was in the bottom ten percent. Compared to her sturdy classmates, she was a pencil. When they did tests for reading group, Muffin was not in the highest. When they showed off their soccer skills, Muffin had none.

This afternoon, Muffin was in the back of the family van.

Her big brother, Rowen, was in the middle.

Her parents were in the front.

Everybody was in a terrible mood.

They had just come from a high school event in which it was clear that all the kids in this entire school system were skanks and wrecks and broken glass. Mom and Dad could not imagine why they lived here. They were appalled by the disgusting students with whom Rowen seemed to be friends. They were ready to move to some other part of the country where nice people still lived.

All afternoon, Rowen kept pointing out nice kids, hoping to calm Mom and Dad down, but today the nice kids dressed in disguise and blended in perfectly with the creepy ones. Mom and Dad did not know what this world was coming to.

On the way home, Dad was out of cash and they stopped at an ATM machine — and it didn't work. It kept his card five minutes and then spit it back. "Not only do I live in a town where my son goes to school with druggies and foul-mouthed kids wearing torn obscene T-shirts," muttered Dad, "but I can't find a working ATM."

Rowen said, "Dad. All the kids you saw this afternoon are perfectly nice. You just don't like their clothes."

Rowen himself dressed beautifully. He loved looking like a catalog ad, and would practice draping a sweater the way the model wore it on page forty, and letting a suspender fall like page seventeen, slouching his socks just as they did on page eleven. "It won't help, Row," his sister, Muffin, often told him, "because you have a face like raisins in a pudding."

Actually, Rowen was quite handsome, but Muffin was always irritated with him for being so much older, so she never gave him compliments.

"You take Muffin with you when you go to Shea's tonight," said Dad. "I thought we could leave her home alone without a sitter, now that she's nine, but we can't. Not now that I've seen what kind of people this town breeds."

"Dad!" yelled Rowen. "No fair! Shea invited Kit over for me. We're going to rent movies. I don't want Muffin there."

Muffin kept quiet. She might be crummy in spelling and arithmetic, but she was smart. The way to get your way was to say nothing.

"I don't wanna baby-sit!" moaned Rowen. "Dad! Come on! Keep Muffin."

Muffin adored her cousin Shea, she adored her aunt Karen and uncle Anthony, and she adored their dogs, cats, parrot, gerbil, ferret, and water garden with fish.

She understood that she was not to get in the way, or Rowen might behave in a very uncatalog manner and smack her one, but at Shea's, staying out of the way would not be a problem, because at Shea's house everything was in the way; always. There was no order or plan; there was nothing neat or clean. There was dog and cat hair everywhere, and animals napping or exploring or running in their cages or in need of water.

This was a complete contrast to Muffin and Rowen's parents, who were very neat. It was impossible to believe that her mom and Aunt Karen were sisters. Mom especially did not believe it.

Mom and Dad had spent a ton of money on their house, and their wallpaper, and their chairs and table, and their house was going to stay clean and sparkling and beautiful — and it did. If you played a game on Mom's dining room table, you cleaned it up and counted the pieces.

Whereas at Shea's house, you couldn't find the game. If you did locate it, it was missing the board.

Vaguely Muffin heard her brother continue his argument that a nine-year-old would absolutely ruin an evening of three sixteen-year-olds.

But in the Mason household, Dad always won. It was remarkable. One year, Row kept score. But there was no score. Dad was the only player. It was like living with the weather. If Dad rained, you got wet.

So when Dad said Muffin would go with Row to Shea's house for the evening, she was going with Rowen to Shea's.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Hush Little Baby by Caroline B. Cooney. Copyright © 1999 Caroline B. Cooney. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2007

    It's not easy being Kit

    Kit Innes, who is just a teenager, is about to experience something in her life that she isn¿t ready for and she doesn¿t know if she can take on this kind of responsibility.Kit¿s parents had divorced when she was just a little girl, and she hated it, her mother live in a nice house with her new husband, Kit¿s stepfather, Malcolm. Her dad on the other hand lives in a decent house on the gulf course. He did get married to a girl named Dusty, who isn¿t the brightest crane in the box, but then got a divorce. When Kit was home by herself at her dad¿s house, things went wrong. Dusty came with something very unexpectedly, a baby! She just dropped it off and left. So what does Kit Innes, a teenager, do with a baby? With some help along the way, Kit goes through a lot of malignant obstacles, asking a lot of questions to herself: who is the father? Is Dusty the mother? What do I do with a baby? Will she figure out all these questions she¿s asking to herself before time runs out? Or will things just go from bad to worse? I really loved how my book, Hush Little Baby, started off as a strong and very suspenseful book. Right at after chapter one and about five pages into the book, I couldn¿t put it down! It was one of the most exciting books I have read in a long time, it¿s definitely a must read book. Some things that I didn¿t like about the book were the switching of characters. The book went back and forth from the author talking about one character, and then right away going to the next one. It got kind of confusing and I got kind of frustrated too because sometimes the author would just leave you hanging about one of the characters. I also didn¿t like how the whole entire book was just in one day because so much happened. It just didn¿t seem like all the stuff Kit went through was just in twenty-four hours of her time. Hush Little Baby is not a series so you don¿t have to worry about reading previous books before that. I think that this book kind of reminds me of the movie Ice Age. The reason is that in the movie, these animals get left with this baby and don¿t really know what to do with it, so they take it with them to try to go find its family, kind of like my book. Also, in the movie these Saber Tooth Tigers try to take the baby away from them, so they can have it for themselves. That part also relates to my book as well. I would recommend this book to people who are onto excitement and suspense, and like a little bit of action in their book too. Caroline B. Cooney, I think, is similar to the author Margerate Peterson Haddix because a lot of her books are suspenseful, and Caroline¿s books are suspenseful too.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2010

    cool

    i like the story! i really want to read it again ... it's worth it

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2007

    A reviewer

    This is a good book to read if you have nothing better to do. There was some suspense, but I still found it easy to put down. I found it weird that the book covered such a small amount of time, only one day! I wish it would have lasted longer.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2005

    AWESOME

    This book is the best book ever. it is very interesting. BUY IT and then READ IT

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2004

    Hush Little Baby was a great book!

    Kit, a girl in her early teens, was sitting at home alone when her ex-stepmother brought her an unexpected surprise. Dusty asked her to baby-sit while she ran a few errands, but little did she know what she was getting herself into when she said yes. Caroline B. Cooney brought me into the story with details I could actually see. I¿ve also read other books by Cooney and enjoyed them just the same. They all have the great details that Hush Little Baby has in it and that I love to see in the stories that I read. I would recommend Hush Little Baby or any of Caroline B. Cooney¿s other books to anyone who likes to be able to picture the events of the story that you¿re reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2005

    Ready, Set, Go!

    This fast-paced novel keeps readers interested. You will travel along with these dynamic characters on their dangerous journies. Caroline B. Cooney has a way of building up the drama so you'll never want to put it down! Will they make it out alive? No one knows.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2004

    great book i loved it

    this book was great I loved it now i am reading the janie series.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2003

    Really Good

    This story is about a girl named Kit, who out of the blue, finds her ex-stepmom at her dad's new house. She is bewildered and amused, when Dusty (her ex-stepmother) thrust a baby into her hands. Little does Kit know that Dusty is not running some quick errand, but really going to the salon to get her hair and nails done. Now Kit is left with a new born baby that is in the middle of a serious crime, or a couple. This story will have you yelling comments right at the book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2002

    Awsome!!

    I loved this book! Once I picked it up I couldn't put it back down! It has a great twist to it!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2002

    Awesome Book!

    I felt that this book was very good and all cooney fans should read it. It is a little slow at the start but it quuickly picks up and u won't be able to put it down. The crime scheme behind this baby is unpredictable and u should definetly read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2001

    Very Strange!

    I liked this book, but i thought it was really weird! it's not my fav. of her books but the strangness kept me reading and i read it really fast.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2001

    A good book

    I like this book alot! I think it's very well written!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2001

    This is the best C.B.C. book!

    'Hush Little Baby' was the best Caroline B. Cooney book I have read. I have read a lot of her books and this one, I thought, was the best. It includes a lot of twists, turns, and a mysterious plot that makes you keep reading the book. You will not want to put the book down. I rated this 5 stars because it was such a good book. I think I have made my point. I highly recommend this to every Caroline B. Cooney fans!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2000

    A teens idea of the book

    This is a facinating book. It may start out a little slow but once you get into it you wont want to put it down. It uses great, realistic characters that can be related to. You feel like you too are trapped in the mystery of the poor baby with Kit and her friends. Dont hesitate to check this book out, you wont want to put it down. Starts out a little slow, but turns in to great mysteryand escitement!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2000

    The Best Book Ever Written

    This book was a great book! Whatever the character felt, I felt. Cooney is very detailed with the characters. You can't put this book down because the suspense will kill ya!! just jokin! But this is a great book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2000

    GREAT BOOK!!!!!!!

    I loved this book by Caroline B. Cooney. I have read many of her books and this was'nt my favorite but I still loved it. I reccomend it to all teenagers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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