The Lambkins

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Kyle Wilson was the size of a regular ninth grader until crazy Mrs. Shepherd injected him with a shrinking formula. Now he's a prisoner in her dollhouse, the fourth Lambkin in Mrs. Shepherd's collection! She loves them and would never harm them, she says . . . as long as they don't make her angry.

One thing is certain. Kyle and the others must figure out how to escape, and fast.

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Overview

Kyle Wilson was the size of a regular ninth grader until crazy Mrs. Shepherd injected him with a shrinking formula. Now he's a prisoner in her dollhouse, the fourth Lambkin in Mrs. Shepherd's collection! She loves them and would never harm them, she says . . . as long as they don't make her angry.

One thing is certain. Kyle and the others must figure out how to escape, and fast.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It was eight-thirty on a warm California night when the woman kidnapped me," opens Bunting's (Is Anybody There?) quirky novel centering on four youngsters who have been abducted by Mrs. Shepherd. Kyle, the 14-year-old narrator, encounters the middle-aged woman on a dark street, where he stops to help her with an alleged flat tire. As he reaches into the trunk of her car, he feels the sting of a needle, after which he awakens in a dollhouse. There he meets the other "little Lambkins" (the name she gives her captives)-teenagers Mac and Tanya, and four-year-old Lulu. Gradually Kyle learns what is going on: the woman was so lonely after the death of her genetic scientist husband, who built the dollhouse for her beloved dolls, that she decided she needed "living dolls." She keeps the kidnapped children doll-size by giving them regular injections and attempts to appease them by nurturing their talents (e.g., she provides artistic Kyle with painting supplies, which he refuses to use, and grooms Lulu "to be Shirley Temple"). Though the psychological ramifications of the kids' predicament are compelling, the plot is rather repetitious and lacks action until Kyle begins to make and execute an escape plan. Yet Bunting keeps readers guessing until the finale. Ages 10-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Bunting presents a bizarre tale with a frightening twist. Kyle Wilson stops to help a stranded woman. She pushes him into her trunk, where he blacks out, and when he regains consciousness, he discovers he's been kidnapped, shrunk, and trapped in a dollhouse. The kidnapper, seemingly benevolent Mrs. Shepherd (whose late husband developed the shrinking solution), sees herself as a patron of struggling artists (Kyle paints) and can't understand why he and her other victims aren't happy with their fate. Fear mounts as the ninth grader learns what happened to the last boy who tried to escape, and Mrs. Shepherd enacts increasingly nasty retributions. Kyle uses his art, his ingenuity, and help from his new friends to break out of the box-literally. Lambkins is scary in its nonchalance. Mrs. Shepherd is a mild-mannered member of the community, and, also, a psychopath who will do anything to get her way. While the illustrations (which make Kyle look androgynous) and the writing slant the book toward elementary readers, Lambkins is really for middle-school readers who like fantasy adventure with a strong dose of horror. The dialogue and characterization take the book down somewhat, but the pacing and the mood make this a good choice for those not quite ready for Neal Shusterman's Full Tilt (S & S, 2003) or Edward Bloor's Story Time (Harcourt, 2004).-Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Bunting offers an odd story of four plucky young people who are shrunk and forced to live in a dollhouse to satisfy a crazed woman's fantasy. The unhinged widow of a great scientist, Mrs. Shepherd "rescues" talented individuals to allow them freedom to devote to their avocations and to populate her incredible dollhouse with the children she never had. Shrinking serum and kidnapping are the means to nabbing her victims in the first place; weekly "vitamin shots" guarantee their perpetually tiny stature. She thinks she's doing her "lambkins" a favor; they know she's nuts and desperately plot escape. The hapless victims' personalities emerge as they bond over time, and there's a weird plausibility about all this as they try to make the best of their situation. The story won't suit everyone, especially since Bunting doesn't tie up all the loose ends, but there's enough menace to keep kids turning pages and rooting for the unwilling playthings. (Fiction. 10-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060599065
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/26/2005
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

Eve Bunting was born in Ireland and came to California with her husband and three children. She is one of the most acclaimed and versatile children's book authors, with more than two hundred novels and picture books to her credit. Among her honors are many state awards, the Kerlan Award, the Golden Kite Award, the Regina Medal, the Mystery Writers of America and the Western Writers of America awards, and a PEN International Special Achievement award for her contribution to children's literature. In 2002, Ms. Bunting was chosen to be Irish-American Woman of the Year by the Irish-American Heritage Committee of New York.

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Read an Excerpt

The Lambkins


By Eve Bunting

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Eve Bunting
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060599065

Chapter One

It was eight-thirty on a warm California night when the woman kidnapped me. I was on my bike, coming home from my art class at the Marengo Gallery when I saw her. I was in a great mood. The gallery had had a display of students' work in the window and a collector had bought mine. Only mine! Richard, our teacher, had thumped my shoulder and beamed at me. "A hundred bucks! Not bad for a kid in ninth grade."

"Easy with the kid stuff," I'd growled. But I was stoked. Really stoked. I couldn't wait to tell Mom as soon as she came home from work. A hundred bucks! That's what I was thinking about when I saw the woman.

She was standing by her car at the side of Anney's Road. The lid of the trunk was raised, and it wasn't hard to see she was in trouble. She looked nervous. No wonder. Anney's Road is dark and quiet.

I always came this way after my Tuesday and Thursday night classes because there's hardly any traffic and no speed bumps. I could cruise along, my bike light making a pool of yellow on the pavement, sometimes a possum or a skunk skittering across in front of me. The houses on one side of the road are big, set back behind high gates and walls. I never saw anybody going out of them or going in. On the other side is this open field area, not built up oranything. It's nice. You can almost imagine you're in the country. Anney's Road cut off ten minutes' riding time for me. But sometimes, like when there's wind moaning in the trees, it's scary, and then I push hard and buzz through, fast as I can. I almost didn't stop when I saw her. I'm fourteen years old and a guy, but even so I know better than to stop for a stranger at night.

But this was a woman, about my mom's age, all alone. I couldn't just zip on past and leave her there. Didn't she have a cell phone? I mean, everybody has a cell phone. Why didn't she use that to get help if she needed it?

I slowed and called out, "What's wrong?" At the same time I was checking to make sure she was alone and that there wasn't somebody else in the car or hanging around just to jump on me or whatever. I've heard about this kind of thing. No use taking chances.

She was alone.

I stopped, leaning with one foot on the pavement.

"I've got a flat tire," she said. "Thank goodness you came by. I can change it okay. But"--she spread her hands--"would you believe I can't get the spare and the jack out of the trunk? If you could just help me do that . . ."

Of course I'd end up having to change the tire for her. What was I going to do? Let her do it by herself? Man! I was already wishing I'd coasted on by. Now I was stuck.

Her headlights were off, but in my bike light I could see her pretty well.

She was wearing jeans and a heavy white sweater, and as she walked toward me I saw that her hair was that funny, artificial red that I guess some women think is pretty. Her smile was nice, though. I had this odd feeling that I'd seen her somewhere before. That too-red hair was ringing a bell.

"I was just thinking of hiking to the nearest gas station." She pointed into the trunk. "I'm afraid the spare and the jack are both under the floor section, all the way at the back."

"Okay," I said. "No problem." I hesitated. "Do you have triple A, by any chance? They'd change the tire for you. They changed a tire once for my mom when I wasn't around. Do you have a cell? You could call."

"I don't have a cell," she said. "How stupid can I get?"

Of course, even if she had a phone and called them I'd still have to hang with her till they came, so it made sense just to change the tire myself and get it over with.

I got off my bike and laid it on the grass at the side of the road, wedged far enough out of the way in case a car did happen to come by, then shrugged out of my backpack.

About a million crickets were singing in the fields that bordered the road. The little breeze carried the scent of jasmine, the kind we have in our backyard. I turned to smile at her, then leaned far into the trunk. It was dark and empty. My fingers searched for the crack that would let me lift up the carpeting and get at the spare-tire well, and that was when I felt a sting, right on my butt. It was a sharp sting that pierced the fabric of my cargo pants. "What the heck!" I yelped. I jerked back, but I was off balance and she pushed me. "Wait a sec--" I began, and then it seemed my mouth wouldn't work and my words wouldn't come. "Let me . . ." I mumbled and I tried to turn my head, but it wouldn't turn.

The trunk was half closed on me now, the metal biting into my thighs, and she was talking softly. At least I thought she was talking, saying, "Just relax," over and over. Vaguely I felt the trunk lid opening all the way and my legs being crumpled into the dark space along with the rest of me. And that was all.

Continues...


Excerpted from The Lambkins by Eve Bunting Copyright © 2006 by Eve Bunting. Excerpted by permission.
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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