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Nobody Here but Me

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It’s a little after four o’clock, and everyone’s busy. Mom’s on the phone, Dad’s checking e-mail, and Katie’s playing games with a friend. But there’s one other person in the house, and no matter what he does – from painting a blue heart on the wall to turning the kitchen into a catastrophe (that’s a really big mess) – none of his distracted family members come to stop him. What does a person have to do to get noticed around here?

This laugh-out-loud story by best-selling author...

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Overview

It’s a little after four o’clock, and everyone’s busy. Mom’s on the phone, Dad’s checking e-mail, and Katie’s playing games with a friend. But there’s one other person in the house, and no matter what he does – from painting a blue heart on the wall to turning the kitchen into a catastrophe (that’s a really big mess) – none of his distracted family members come to stop him. What does a person have to do to get noticed around here?

This laugh-out-loud story by best-selling author Judith Viorst, accompanied by Christine Davenier’s charming illustrations, perfectly captures how lonely it can feel even when the house is full of people – and just what it takes to get some attention.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Viorst, as always, respects her readers too much to preach to them; instead, she empathetically and accurately mirrors their feelings so they can savor the injustice while understanding that it, too, will pass.” —Publishers Weekly

“This book addresses a universal childhood experience. Librarians will see possibilities for reader’s theater—just a few children needed and every free-verse line perfect to read aloud.” —School Library Journal

“Funny, well-illustrated, and re-readable.” —SacramentoBook Review

“Viorst’s text is emotionally on-target; Davenier’s loose watercolor illustrations appropriately isolate the boy in small vignettes or within otherwise unoccupied interiors to add an extra touch of feeling.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Children will enjoy the antics involved in this look at family dynamics, and realize that although a situation may be frustrating, it probably won’t last forever. The outcome might even be fun.”

—Booklist

“This is a touching read for all children who feel left out.” —Winston-Salem Journal

Publishers Weekly

"Even though there's four-count them!-four other people right here in this house,/ It's just as if there's nobody here but me." So bemoans a boy who believes that he's being neglected by busy family members (Dad is answering e-mail, Mom is on the phone, and his older sister and a friend are "playing games for two, not three"). The boy's numerous ploys for attention include raising a false alarm ("Hurry, Mom, I think there's a snake in the shower"), acting out (turning the kitchen into a snack-strewn "catastrophe") and taking to bed at 5 p.m. He's unable to bend others to his will, but finally gets his revenge by playing possum when the family finally checks in on him in bed. Davenier's (Has Anyone Seen My Emily Greene?) luminous watercolors capture the boy's complex emotions with cool lavenders and blues amplifying gloomier moments. (The inclusion of several clocks plays up the agony of waiting and gently suggests a touch of overreaction-the story takes place over the course of an hour.) Viorst (Just in Case), as always, respects her readers too much to preach to them; instead, she empathetically and accurately mirrors their feelings so they can savor the injustice while understanding that it, too, will pass. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
The grandfather clock on the wall reads 4 p.m., and a bored little boy is sitting on the steps. His mother is on the phone, his father is answering e-mail, and his sister Katie is in her room with a friend. Try as he might he just cannot get anyone to give him any time or attention. He decides to draw and color but gets a little carried away when he draws dots on his arm and paints a heart on the wall with his marker. He tries to get some attention but again it is "as if there's nobody here but me." The refrain repeats after each episode when he uses scissors to cut the fringe on the rug and a hole in his jeans and turns the kitchen into a "catastrophe." He hides in the basement until he has to "go pee." Nothing can get them to stop what they are doing and play with him so he climbs into bed and falls asleep. His bedroom clock says 5:04. Katie's friend has gone home, and now she will play with him. His mother has finished her phone call and says they can bake a dessert and his father has finished his e-mail and suggests a bike ride. Loving all the attention at his bedside, he pretends, "there's nobody here but me." Just as it should be in a child's fantasy, he does not get into trouble for his actions. Children will be able to relate to the plight of this little boy. Viorst aptly captures the feelings of a young child and the kinds of incidents that just seem to occur when they are bored. The rhythm of the text and the repetition of the refrain make this a good read-aloud choice. The relaxed illustrations work perfectly with the attitude and actions of the wonderfully expressive little boy. The clocks throughout the house give the story some grounding without interfering with theimaginative aspects of the text. Just one question from an adult perspective: what happens when the parents discover all the messes this little fella has created? Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3

Although four other people are in the house, a boy thinks, "It's just as if there's nobody here but me." His mom is talking on the phone, and his dad is answering his email. His sister wants him to go away while she plays a game with her friend. Despite painting a blue heart on the wall, cutting a hole in his jeans, and turning the kitchen into a catastrophe, no one scolds him. When he hides in the cold, dark basement, no one looks for him. Eventually, he puts on his pajamas and tucks himself in. Going to bed for no reason before supper does the trick. His parents and sister gather around his bed, watch as he pretends to sleep, and then tickle him awake. Davenier's watercolor-and-ink illustrations place the boy in his pleasant house with his busy family. The muted colors reflect his mood as he tries repeatedly to attract his family's attention during that difficult hour before supper. Like Rosemary Wells's Noisy Nora (Dial, 1973), this book addresses a universal childhood experience. Librarians will see possibilities for reader's theater-just a few children needed and every free-verse line perfect to read aloud.-Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN

Kirkus Reviews
Viorst, the always-spot-on voice for disgruntled kids, captures another universal childhood feeling. The nameless narrator is frustrated because Mom is on the phone, Dad is online and his older sister and her friend want nothing to do with him-no one wants to pay him any attention. What's a frustrated young boy to do? Why, break out the paint and start painting the wall to get a reaction. When that doesn't work, he finds the scissors; still, nobody pays him any mind. After wrecking the kitchen and getting spooked in the basement, he puts himself to bed, complaining loudly all the while. That is when everyone finishes his or her activities, and they restore the boy to good humor by paying him loads of attention and letting him give a little payback besides. Viorst's text is emotionally on-target; Davenier's loose watercolor illustrations appropriately isolate the boy in small vignettes or within otherwise unoccupied interiors to add an extra touch of feeling. (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374355401
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 9/2/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 3 - 6 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

JUDITH VIORST is the author of the perennial favorite Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, among other books for children and adults. She lives in Washington, D.C. CHRISTINE DAVENIER has illustrated many books, including Me I Am! by Jack Prelutsky and Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen by Cari Best, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. She lives in Paris, France.

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