Nature Girl by Jane Kelley, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Nature Girl

Nature Girl

4.4 30
by Jane Kelley
     
 

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Nature Girl is a laugh-out-loud funny, feel-good tale of self-discovery, growing up, and girl power that gives a fresh twist to the classic survival story! Eleven-year-old Megan is stuck in the wilds of Vermont for the summer with no TV, no Internet, no cell phone, and worst of all, no best friend. So when Megan gets lost on the Appalachian Trail with only

Overview

Nature Girl is a laugh-out-loud funny, feel-good tale of self-discovery, growing up, and girl power that gives a fresh twist to the classic survival story! Eleven-year-old Megan is stuck in the wilds of Vermont for the summer with no TV, no Internet, no cell phone, and worst of all, no best friend. So when Megan gets lost on the Appalachian Trail with only her little dog, Arp, for company, she decides she might as well hike all the way to Massachussetts where her best friend, Lucy, is spending her summer. Life of the trail isn't easy though. And on the journey, Megan faces everything from wild animals and raging rivers to tofu jerky and life without bathrooms. Most of all though, Megan gets to know herself—both who she's been in the past and who she wants to be in the future—and the journey goes from a spur of the moment lark to a heroic quest to prove herself to Lucy, her family, and the world!  Fans of Lisa Yee and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor will delight in Jane Kelley's irresistible debut.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Megan’s parents have dragged her to Vermont for the summer, hoping she will embrace nature and art, but the bratty 11-year-old is furious to be trapped in the country. “You don’t know how I’m suffering. Nobody does. Nobody cares,” Megan tells her friend Lucy, who couldn’t come—because her mother has Hodgkin’s lymphoma. When Megan gets lost on a hike, she becomes inspired to hike the Appalachian Trail to where Lucy is staying. Along the way she confronts her own insecurities, which take the form of a “yucky voice” in her head, and discovers her inner strength, as well as compassion for Lucy. Readers may be put off by Megan’s histrionics, but debut author Kelley mostly plays them for laughs (further amplified in scribbly cartoons), as when Megan nabs the family’s emergency cell phone to call Lucy (“I almost cried when I saw its shiny surface. You won’t believe this, but practically everything else in Vermont is made of cloth or pottery or wood”). Megan’s emotional growth is mostly satisfying as she conquers both the mountain and her own weaknesses. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Eleven-year-old Megan is stuck in Vermont for the summer. She misses New York and especially her best friend Lucy, who was supposed to spend the summer with her. But Lucy's mother has cancer, and they are staying with Lucy's grandmother in Massachusetts. Lucy really does not care if Megan misses her. Bored, self-absorbed, and uncooperative, Megan is miserable. Too stubborn to enjoy a hike with her sister and a boyfriend, she lets herself and their tiny dog Arp get lost until they find themselves on the nearby Appalachian Trail. Is Lucy merely a short hike away? Megan and Arp set out for Massachusetts. Encountering a hungry bear, hostile teenagers, and eccentric Trail Blaze Betty patrolling her section of the Trail with brownies for hikers, Megan discovers that Lucy is farther away than she thought. During the five days they travel, Megan has plenty of time to think about her selfishness, the meaning of friendship, and how frightened Lucy must be about her mother. Dirty, hungry, and thirsty, Megan decides she must apologize to Lucy; she and Arp will make it a quest—according to Trail Blaze Betty, "The only way to fail is to quit." As the story unfolds in Megan's distinctive, funny, increasingly confident voice, Palisi's amusing pen-and-ink drawings, supposedly drawn by Megan, echo her comments and fantasies. Can Megan and Arp survive alone on the famous Trail? This engaging debut novel's readers will be cheering for the travelers, as Megan makes her journey of discovery from hopeless to hero. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
Kirkus Reviews
Should readers care enough about the Appalachian Trail experiences of an extremely whiny girl to stick with this effort? Rising seventh grader Megan has had a hard year, as her best friend, Lucy, has barely coped with her own mother's bout with Hodgkin's disease. Megan has responded to this challenge as she does to most: She's felt very sorry for herself. Being forced to spend the summer in rural Vermont is just one more crushing disappointment for this shallow New York City girl. After getting lost, she stumbles upon the Appalachian Trail and decides to hike to Mount Greylock in Massachusetts to meet up with Lucy, plodding on and often hiding after she realizes that a major search effort to find her has been launched. Enduring hardship and some funny, challenging wilderness experiences, she reevaluates her relationships with her family and Lucy and gradually accepts some responsibility for her own actions, but the change seems superficial and not completely believable. A greater issue: Can readers put up with her long enough to care what happens? Maybe. (Fiction. 9-13)
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Megan, 12, finds herself plucked out of the hustle and bustle of New York City and dropped into the heart of Vermont. Her parents insist that she explore her artistic side and commune with nature rather than relying on electronic gadgets for entertainment. When they send her on a day hike with her sister and her sister's boyfriend, Megan has an argument with Ginia and decides to hike the Appalachian Trail, by herself, to Mount Greylock, where she plans to make amends with her best friend, Lucy. Her quest proves more difficult than she imagined as she encounters a bear, rain, makeshift shelters, bullies, hunger, thirst, and fear at night, but she overcomes all of them. As she and her dog cover the 30 miles, she analyzes her relationships, especially the tattered one with Lucy, whose mother has Hodgkin's disease. Megan has little knowledge of wilderness survival, but her tenacity carries readers through to the end. She has never been a doer, and she is rarely motivated by anything, but spending time alone, she realizes that she has been very selfish and begins to change her mind about how she lives her life. Her voice is believable and honest, and her journey is both a physical and emotional success. Kelley's debut novel is a modern-day adventure story that turns its back on the cell phone and portable GPS and gets to the heart of real survival.—Delia Carruthers, Roxbury Public Library, Succasunna, NJ

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375856341
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
04/27/2010
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile:
590L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Nature Girl


By Jane Kelley

Random House Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2010 Jane Kelley
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780375956348

1
The Hundred-Year-Old Maple Tree

“Can you hear me now?”

I creep a little further out along the tree branch.

“Lucy, are you there?”

I hear a little mumbling. I switch hands so that the cell phone is pressed against my right ear, six inches closer to my best friend.

“Lucy, you’ve just got to be there!”

My parents said the cell phone could only be used for emergencies. But this IS an emergency! My miserableness has swelled to monstrous proportions like the Barney balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Besides, since I’m hiding in a tree, my parents won’t even know I called Lucy until months from now when they get the phone bill. Then I won’t care how they punish me because I’ll be back home in New York City, far, far away from Nowheresville, Vermont.

“LUCY!”

I shouldn’t have yelled. I quickly look around to see if anyone heard me. But no one’s paying any attention to me—as usual. Mom is on the other side of the farmhouse, painting the barn. I don’t mean really painting it (even though it sure could use a new coat of red). No, she’s making a painting of it. “Trying to capture the essence of its heroism as it stands against the march oftime.” I’m not kidding you. Mom actually said that. Dad is at the far side of the field, sketching the tumble- down pile of rocks at the edge of the Woods. Anywhere else in the world, people would immediately get rid of that useless safety hazard. But up here, everybody worships that rock pile because it’s an authentic Vermont stone wall.

My sister, Ginia, is inside the farmhouse. Her name is really VIRginia, but ever since she turned sixteen, she has a fit if you call her that. She’s really good at drawing. She can draw just about anything—even galloping horses. But she’s probably doing another self-portrait so her squinty little eyes can be big and beautiful. She gets to spend hours mooning into a mirror and playing with her hair because my parents think that’s ART.

I’m supposed to be doing ART too. Every morning, the time between nine o’clock and noon is dedicated to “creative pursuits.” That’s my parents’ idea of a fun summer. Can you believe it? Three whole hours—every day? I told them that I couldn’t do anything for three whole hours—not even things I liked. Dad just smiled and repeated one of his annoying sayings, “Practice makes perfect.”

But he was lying. Practice won’t help my painting or drawing or anything else.

The trouble is, I don’t have any important talents. That became really obvious last fall when I started middle school. The first thing that happened was all the sixth graders had to demonstrate how great they were at singing and dancing and painting and showing off. Then the talent teachers chose kids for their workshops. I was hoping I could be in the chorus with Lucy. But I didn’t get picked for that. I didn’t even get picked for drawing. In fact, I guess you could say I didn’t get picked for anything. I got put in photography with all the other kids they didn’t know what to do with. I mean, anyone can point a camera at something and push a button. Unfortunately they didn’t have a workshop for doodling and hanging out with your best friend. Because those are the only things I’m any good at.

Maybe you think that doodling is drawing. They both use paper and pencil, right? I kind of thought that too. So on the first morning of ART time, I sketched myself standing next to the farmhouse. I can’t draw people, but you could recognize me by my frizzy hair. Then I made a swarm of mosquitoes attacking me. Only I didn’t actually draw them because they’re too tiny and complicated; I just covered the page in dots. Unfortunately Mom walked past while I was stabbing the paper with my pen. I tried to keep her from seeing what I was doing, but she looked anyway. She opened her mouth like she wanted to say something. Then she shut it again. Then she sighed. So I crumpled up the paper and threw it away.

And that’s the difference. Drawing ends up in museums. Doodling ends up in the trash.


From the Hardcover edition.

Continues...

Excerpted from Nature Girl by Jane Kelley Copyright © 2010 by Jane Kelley. 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.

Meet the Author

JANE KELLEY lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter. She has enjoyed many summers in Vermont. This is her first book. You can visit her web site at JaneKelleyBooks.com.

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