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Keeping Safe the Stars

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Overview


When crisis hits, a young girl becomes the only one left to take care of her family

Pride, Nightingale and Baby are the Stars. Orphaned and living with their grandfather, Old Finn, in rural Minnesota, the children, like their grandfather, are wary of outsiders. They believe, as Old Finn taught them, in self-reliance.

But then Old Finn falls seriously ill and is taken to the hospital all the way in Duluth, leaving the children to fend for ...

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Keeping Safe the Stars

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Overview


When crisis hits, a young girl becomes the only one left to take care of her family

Pride, Nightingale and Baby are the Stars. Orphaned and living with their grandfather, Old Finn, in rural Minnesota, the children, like their grandfather, are wary of outsiders. They believe, as Old Finn taught them, in self-reliance.

But then Old Finn falls seriously ill and is taken to the hospital all the way in Duluth, leaving the children to fend for themselves. Pride, as oldest, assumes the lead. Though she makes mistakes, she keeps them afloat; they even earn money for the bus trip to Duluth. But when they finally see Old Finn, he can't walk or even say his own name, and Pride knows her days of keeping safe the Stars are drawing to a close. Self-reliance can't make Old Finn well again. But maybe, just maybe, a secret from Old Finn's past might make a way for them to stay together after all.

A poignant story about family and love, Sheila O'Connor has delivered another extraordinary and mesmerizing tale.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
…touching…it's…a marvel to watch these three children band together—and to be there when they, and Old Finn, realize that even the most fiercely independent of us will eventually have to rely on other people to make it through.
—Whitney Joiner
Publishers Weekly
Choosing an unusual setting—the 1974 summer of Nixon’s resignation— O’Connor (Sparrow Road) skillfully tackles complex issues of truth and loyalty in a story filled with adventure, suspense, and family drama. Pride, Nightingale, and Baby Star, having lost their parents, are being raised by their grandfather, Old Finn, to live self-sufficiently on his farm in rural Minnesota. With Old Finn suddenly hospitalized, 13-year-old Pride struggles to keep her younger siblings fed, while maintaining their independence and hiding their grandfather’s absence from increasingly suspicious adults. The strong-minded siblings frequently clash over what is right and wrong, even as their predicament bonds them ever more strongly. Through Pride’s conflicts regarding ethical behavior, love, and survival, O’Connor brings to life the murky territory of morality. In one poignant scene, Pride empathetically watches Nixon’s resignation speech: “when he said, ‘I have always tried to do what was best for the nation’... it made me think about the lies I’d told to try to help my family. I’d say the same, I tried to do the best.” A thought-provoking page-turner. Ages 10–up. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Oct.)
New York Times Book Review
“A touching middle grade novel.”—New York Times Book Review
VOYA - Taryn Bush
The Star siblings grew up in a New Mexico commune but after losing both parents, they are shipped off to a cabin in rural Minnesota to live with their grandfather and his only living relative, Old Finn. Thirteen-year-old Pride and her younger siblings, Nightingale and Baby, settle in with the reclusive old man and adjust to his self-sufficient lifestyle. When Old Finn becomes sick and ends up in the hospital, the children are left alone at home. Believing he will only be gone for a short time, the Star children decide to be self-reliant and survive on their own until Old Finn gets better and returns home. To make money for groceries, they sell pony rides and homemade souvenirs, but this begins to draw attention from concerned adults. Soon, Old Finn’s illness worsens and he is transferred to a bigger hospital hours away. Pride knows that if she is to fulfill her mother’s wish to “keep safe the Stars” she will have to get the family to the big city to see Old Finn and ask for his guidance. The characters are well-developed and authentic, and their resourcefulness and fierce family loyalty are admirable. Set during the last few days of Nixon’s administration, Keeping Safe The Stars brings up questions of morality and explores the notion of trying to do what is best for one’s family. With adventure, history, and even romance, it will appeal to a wide range of young readers. Ages 11 to 15.
Kirkus Reviews
Left in a Minnesota cabin when their grandfather is hospitalized with encephalitis, 13-year-old Pride and her younger siblings struggle to be self-reliant, but after a bus trip to Duluth to see him, they realize they will have to seek and accept help. When their grandfather went off to see the doctor, the orphaned Star family--Pride, Nightingale and Baby--had just become accustomed to life with reclusive Old Finn, so different from their commune in New Mexico. They knew he wouldn't want anyone to learn they were on their own. To make money for food, they sell crafts and pony rides to tourists, attracting unwanted attention. Against the backdrop of the last few days of Nixon's administration in 1974, narrator Pride compares her own need to lie to Nixon's self-justification even as Nightingale insists on honesty. Unusually, this family survival story is also a story of love between two older adults. Through letters Pride reads, readers learn that before he became a surrogate parent, her grandfather loved someone named Justine. Courageous and resourceful, the children track her down. More realistic than many children-on-their-own adventures, the resolution may strain adult credulity. Compelling character development (in adults as well as children) and authentic language fitting the setting add to the strength of this story. Family loyalty, stubbornness and love in an implausible but totally satisfying blend. (Historical fiction. 10-14)
Various

“Family loyalty, stubbornness and love.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review ?

“A thought-provoking page-turner.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review ?

“With adventure, history, and even romance, it will appeal to a wide range of young readers.”—VOYA, starred review

School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Pride is only 13, but when her grandpa, Old Finn, is admitted to the hospital, she is left to take care of her younger sister and brother, Nightingale and Baby. Smart and resourceful, the siblings construct a plan to maintain normalcy at all costs, earning money to buy groceries and even continuing on with their homeschooling. Soon, though, youthful gumption isn't enough. And then Old Finn is moved to a bigger hospital miles and miles away. Desperate to stay together and avoid a group home like the one they were placed in after their mother died, the children learn to face the truth, accept help from the various adults they meet along the way, and set out to find the woman who wrote Old Finn love letters. Smart kids who fend for themselves is an interesting premise, but it's hard to read the adult characters who end up watching over these youngsters; none of their motivations for wanting to help ever seem clear. While the story is filled with charm, the one-dimensional characters, 1974 setting, and slow pacing feel forced.—Jennifer Miskec, Longwood University, Farmville, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399254598
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/11/2012
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 798,768
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Lexile: HL650L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 3.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Sheila O'Connor lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2013

    Anonymos

    I cannot wait to read this. Read her other book and loved it. Hope you guys find it and read it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 5, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2013

    Whoa-ahh

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2013

    Cool

    I only got to read the sample but it was good i wish you put yhe book out for free. My friend is reading it as well as i wish.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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