Kaleidoscope Eyes

Kaleidoscope Eyes

3.1 12
by Jen Bryant

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Will Lyza’s 1968 summer mystery lead to . . . pirate treasure?

When Lyza helps her dad clean out her late grandfather’s house, a mysterious surprise brightens the sad task. In Gramps’s dusty attic, Lyza discovers three maps, carefully folded and stacked, bound by a single rubber band. On top, an envelope says “For Lyza ONLY.”

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Will Lyza’s 1968 summer mystery lead to . . . pirate treasure?

When Lyza helps her dad clean out her late grandfather’s house, a mysterious surprise brightens the sad task. In Gramps’s dusty attic, Lyza discovers three maps, carefully folded and stacked, bound by a single rubber band. On top, an envelope says “For Lyza ONLY.” What could this possibly be? It takes the help of her two best friends, Malcolm and Carolann, to figure out that the maps reveal three possible spots in their own New Jersey town where Captain Kidd (the Captain Kidd, seventeenth-century pirate) may have buried a treasure. Can three thirteen-year-olds actually conduct a secret treasure hunt? And what will they find?

In a tale inspired by a true story of buried treasure, Jen Bryant weaves an emotional and suspenseful novel in poems, all set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War during a pivotal year in U.S. history.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Growing up in New Jersey during the Vietnam War, 13-year-old Lyza has some battles of her own ("Whoever said 'the baby of the family/ gets all the sympathy'/ was clearly not/ the baby"). When her mother walked out, "our family began to unravel/ like a tightly wound ball of string." Then Lyza's grandfather dies, leaving her a box filled with cryptic maps and clues, which she learns relate to the pirate treasure of Capt. William Kidd. Lyza and her best friends Carolann and Malcolm get to work locating-and then hiding-the treasure. Lyza's thoughtful narration in verse gives Bryant's (Ringside 1925) novel a strong sense of setting and reflects the teenager's conflicting emotions about adulthood: "I had to decide/ to stay safe in the harbor, like my father,/ or to push out to sea, like Gramps." Her observations also betray an engaging sense of humor (Denise, her older sister, "has no interest in anything/ she can't smoke, wear, or sing"). Sincere and well-paced, with the backdrop of a tumultuous period in history, the story is not easily forgotten. Ages 9-13. (May)

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VOYA - Laura Panter
In the summer of 1968, the town of Willowbank, New Jersey, is losing loved ones to the war in Vietnam. Thirteen-year-old Lyza is counting the days until school ends so she will not have to conform to the rules of segregation that separate her from her best friend, Malcolm. When Lyza's grandfather dies suddenly of heart failure, her family has the chore of cleaning out his house. In the dusty attic, Lyza discovers a folder labeled with her name and containing three maps that may lead to a lost treasure buried somewhere in Willowbank. With the help of Malcolm and Carolann, Lyza plots secret missions and spends sleepless nights digging in the grueling summer heat in hopes of finding the pirate's treasure. When Lyza's father becomes suspicious of her behavior, keeping their activities quiet becomes increasingly difficult. With creative detective work and a few white lies, Lyza and her friends eventually hit pay dirt and local fame. Bryant weaves an emotional novel in poems based on a true story of buried treasure. Tensions among families are drawn with heart-wrenching prose, and her depiction of segregation is flawless. Bryant uses simplistic verses that are just right, including lyrics from rock songs of the time, to convey the seriousness of the war and people's views on equality among blacks and whites. The characters are witty and well developed, with readers wanting to find out what happens next on Lyza's escapades in this well-written novel that will be an absorbing read especially for reluctant readers. Reviewer: Laura Panter
Children's Literature - Jeanna Sciarrotta
Lyza's story unfolds in a fictional New Jersey town during the Vietnam War. She and her best friends Malcolm and Carolann are preparing for yet another boring summer when Lyza discovers an envelope marked "For Lyza Only," while sorting through the possessions of her grandfather, who passed away. This mysterious envelope contains a map that leads them on a treasure hunting adventure right in their own backyards. Though the main plot of the story does indeed follow their search for the hidden treasure, this story runs much deeper than the adolescent adventure story. True to its historical setting Kleidoscope Eyes deals with racial tension and war controversy with the well-developed characters of Lyza's African American friend Malcolm and her sister's boyfriend, Harry, who does not believe in the war. Written entirely as a series of poems, this story is sure to captivate even reluctant readers with its style and fast-paced plot. Reviewer: Jeanna Sciarrotta
School Library Journal

Gr 5-8

In this free-verse novel set during the Vietnam War era, 13-year-old Lyza Bradley lives with her professor father and hippie sister in Willowbank, NJ. Her mother deserted them two years earlier, a mystery that lingers in Lyza's thoughts. Cleaning out her recently deceased grandfather's house, the teen finds his legacy to her-an envelope with clues to the location of Captain William Kidd's lost treasure. She enlists the help of her friends Malcolm and Carolann to locate and excavate the site. Against this story, Bryant inserts poems describing Lyza's family dynamics, racism, and the draft. This book offers a meaty adventure alongside coming-of-age reflections. As Lyza follows Gramps's maps, she examines the trickle of desegregation (Malcolm is African American), the impact of the war, and the way her family grounds and connects her. The story's format yields spare sensory memories that emerge with little reliance on dialogue and lengthy narration. The one shortcoming is the conclusion. Lyza has kept the treasure hunt a tremendous secret, and its final revelation is less dramatic than Bryant's buildup promised. Kaleidoscope Eyes invites readers to visit the recent past and experience its rich complexity.-Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT

Kirkus Reviews
When 13-year-old Lyza cleans her grandfather's attic and finds a bundle of papers marked "For Lyza Only," she's propelled into a modern-day search for pirates' treasure. After weeks of digging-and suffering bruised wrists, blistered fingers and fatigue-Lyza and her two best friends make an amazing discovery and become local celebrities. Set in 1968, with the Vietnam War, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix in the background, Bryant's novel-in-verse effectively weaves Lyza's narrative together with letters from Vietnam, Captain Kidd's pirate's log and an occasional poem that stands beautifully on its own. Lyza's kaleidoscope, a birthday present from her mother, who has walked out on the family, connects readers with the Beatles's "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," provides the volume's title and offers a perfect metaphor for a girl learning to see her world in new ways. Readers will fall under the spell of the delicious plot and race ahead to see if Lyza and her friends find buried treasure. The solid bibliography offers good resources for researching pirates, Vietnam and the '60s. A neat match with Gary Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars (2007) and Michael Kaufman's 1968 (2008). (author's note) (Historical fiction. 9-14)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2009:
"Readers will fall under the spell of the delicious plot."

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, May 25, 2009:
“Sincere and well-paced, with the backdrop of a tumultuous period in history, the story is not easily forgotten.”

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
950L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

I wake up every morning to Janis Joplin.

My sister, Denise, has a life-size poster of Janis—
mouth open in a scream around the microphone,
arms raised, hair frizzed out wildly,
an anguished, contorted look on her face—
thumbtacked right above her desk,
which is directly across the hall from my bed and one hundred percent dead ahead in my direct line of sight.
Janis is the first thing I see when I return from sleep and reenter reality.

In a normal house, the simple answer to this would be:
close the door. But I do not live in a normal house. I live in a tumble-
down, three-story, clapboard Victorian where the rooms get smaller as you climb the stairs,
mine being barely larger than a closet and having—
like all the other rooms on the third floor—
no door (Dad says the former owners, who went broke,
used them for firewood before they moved),
across the hall from my sister, who's nineteen and who believes anyway that walls and doors "interrupt the flow" of her karma,
and so of course this leaves me no choice in the matter of Janis.

When I pointed out to Denise that my future mental health was probably in jeopardy because of it, she just sneered and said:
"Get over it, Lyza—you're already a Bradley,
so mental health is out of the question for you anyway."
Whoever said "the baby of the family gets all the sympathy"
was clearly not the baby.

JUNE 1, 1966
It's been almost two years since that day,
when our family began to unravel like a tightly wound ball of string that some invisible tomcat took to pawing and flicking across the floor,
pouncing upon it again and again,
so those strands just kept loosening and breaking             apart until all we had left was a bunch of frayed,
chewed_up bits scattered all over the house.
Mom had left twice before,
after she and Dad had a fight over money. She stayed away overnight,
but both times she came back, acting like nothing had happened. This time, the three of us thought,
would be the same...it just might take a little longer.
Days became weeks. I finished sixth grade.
Dad, who already taught math full_time at Glassboro State, started to teach at night.
We almost never saw him.
Denise tore up her college applications,
got hired as a waitress at the Willowbank Diner,
started sneaking around with Harry Keating and his hippie crowd.
Still, we hoped Mom would come back.
For the entire summer,
Dad left the porch light on and the garage door unlocked every evening around the same time
Mom used to come home from her art_gallery job in Pleasantville.
I'd lie awake until real late,
wondering where she could be,
if she was OK, if she might be hurt, lost, or sick.
Denise sent letters through Mom's best friend,
Mrs. Corman, the only one who knew where Mom had gone.
Mom answered them at first, but she never gave a return address. Then, for no reason,
her letters to Denise and to Mrs. Corman stopped.
Even so, I had hope.
Every evening, I set her place at the dinner table and bought candy on her birthday, just in case.
When September came, I started seventh grade.
I kept my report cards and vaccination records in the family scrapbook so that when she came back, she could pick up mothering right where she'd left off.
Long after Dad and Denise had made their peace with the reality of our broken family, I still believed
Mom would come home.
I believed the way I had once believed in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
Then one day last year, I was walking home from Willowbank Junior High when I noticed the library flag flying at half_mast,
so I asked
Mrs. Leinberger, our town librarian, why.
"Charley Prichett, Guy Smith, and Edward Cullinan were killed in Vietnam," she said.
I knew them all their families lived on our end of town.
Charley, Eddie, and Guy had graduated from Willowbank High with Denise.
Mrs. Leinberger put her hand on my shoulder. "They're not coming back to Willowbank, Lyza I'm sorry..."
Not coming back...Not coming back...

Her words thrummed against the inside of my head like the machine guns I'd seen and heard on the evening news.
Not coming back...Not coming back...
Like the blades of choppers lifting half_dead men from the swamps and jungles,
the phrase sliced through any shred of hope I had left.
That night, I threw the scrapbook in the trash,
set the dinner table for three,
and gave Denise a large heart_shaped box of chocolates,
which she took down to the record store to share with Harry and the rest of their hippie friends.

Some nights, before I go to sleep,
I look through the lens of the one Mom gave me for my tenth birthday, just to see how, when I
turn the tube slowly around,
every fractured pattern that bends and splits into a million little pieces always comes back together, to make a picture more beautiful than the one before.

He's thirteen like me.
He lives in a three_story clapboard Victorian on Gary Street like me.
He's an eighth grader at Willowbank Junior High like me.
He's in Mrs. Smithson's homeroom,
Mr. Bellamy's Earth Science,
and Mr. Hogan's Math like me.
He roots for the Phillies like me.
He's the younger of two kids in his family (but his brother, Dixon, is a LOT nicer than Denise)
like me.
You see, Malcolm and me,
we've been friends since we were little,
since the day I finally got tired of trying to tag along with Denise and her girlfriends.
That afternoon, according to Dad, I looked out the window and saw Malcolm playing in the street.
I went outside, told him my name, then rode my tricycle down the block to his house,
where we played every outdoor kids' game we could think of:
Cops and Robbers
Red Light, Green Light
Jump rope
Dodgeball             Hopscotch until it was time for supper and my father came to take me home.
"You'd never thrown a tantrum,
but that night you and Malcolm hid under the Duprees' front porch,
where none of us could squeeze in and reach you. You refused to come out unless we promised you could play again the whole next day, just the same.
Of course we promised...and ever since,
you two have gotten along like peas in a pod."

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2009:
"Readers will fall under the spell of the delicious plot."

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, May 25, 2009:
“Sincere and well-paced, with the backdrop of a tumultuous period in history, the story is not easily forgotten.”

Customer Reviews

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Kaleidoscope Eyes 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Lyza's grandfather left her three carefully folded maps and an envelope that will take her and her two best friends on the adventure of a lifetime as they search for buried treasure. But even if the three thirteen-year-olds manage to decipher the clues and locate the treasure, how will they keep it secret from their parents and the rest of the town? Set during the Vietnam War, this novel allows the reader to learn about historical facts and figures of the time while enjoying the mystery and adventure of a hunt for pirate treasure. I absolutely loved KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, and though its structure threw me off a bit at first, I soon found myself reading along with no trouble. I enjoyed hunting treasure with Bryant's characters as they discovered the past, struggled through the present, and looked toward a bright future. The real treasure was the way these characters overcame obstacles and kept going in the face of the turmoil and confusion around them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has been pretty good so far but its definietly not 5 stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book if you love mysteries and adventure
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a terrible book. I had to choose from 3 books to read for school, Peak, Kaleidoscope Eyes or Forge. I choose Kaleidoscope eyes because it looked better then the other 2. From the first page to the last page i hated my desision. So for all the kids who go to my school GO WITH A DIFFERENT BOOK!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its sort of confusing in the begining but other than that its good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I might not like this book due to the fact that I only see on wrriten review besides mine...... :(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dark_Angle More than 1 year ago
Not Bad. I read this book a few years ago so I'm a little fuzzy on the details but I do remember liking it. I was in the beginning of this pirate phase so I really interested. If you like this I really reccomend The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago