Out of Order

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One million American children become part of blended family every year. What happens to stepsiblings when the oldest child suddenly becomes the middle child, and the youngest even younger? Out of Order delivers four electric points of view from stepsiblings, ages nine to fifteen, in a super-unsettled, scrambled-up family. An unforgettable Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament, plus 120 hazardous bug snacks, equals humor, insight, and serious indigestion. Betty Hicks gives us her most entertaining and complex novel ...

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Overview

One million American children become part of blended family every year. What happens to stepsiblings when the oldest child suddenly becomes the middle child, and the youngest even younger? Out of Order delivers four electric points of view from stepsiblings, ages nine to fifteen, in a super-unsettled, scrambled-up family. An unforgettable Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament, plus 120 hazardous bug snacks, equals humor, insight, and serious indigestion. Betty Hicks gives us her most entertaining and complex novel yet.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“. . . both humorous and compelling.”—The Horn Book Magazine

“With much humor, Hicks captures the squabbles but also the closeness of the challenges of family life through the eyes of these participants.”—Voices of Youth Advocates

“Humorous and insightful moments in Hicks’s novel leaven subtle and affecting messages about communication, identity, honesty and forgiveness.”—Publishers Weekly

“A captivating and timely novel.”—School Library Journal

“The switching viewpoints make readers privy to the family secrets and the lies, as the combination of farce and tenderness in daily life brings home both the struggle and the fun. A great choice for readers’ theater.”—Booklist

Publishers Weekly
Through four distinct voices, Hicks (Busted!) crafts an endearing portrait of a newly blended family that includes Eric and his sister V, who have moved with their father from Chicago to North Carolina to live with Lily, her brother, Parker, and their mother. Bookish Eric records his observations in his journal; a third-person narrative reveals ingenuous Parker's thoughts, and stunning, strong-willed V and introspective Lily speak in the first person. The interplay of their individual chapters makes readers privy to information that the characters withhold from one another. Eric's plight is perhaps the most poignant, as he is now the oldest since his and V's older brother died of leukemia, after which their mother "split" for "L.A.-Land of Amnesia," he writes. Believing that he cannot live up to his father's expectations, the teen finds solace in reading novels and in his close bond with Parker. Parker, the youngest, is consumed by guilt at his failure to confess that he inadvertently destroyed the sunflower Lily lovingly grew in the garden and has let V take the blame. In retaliation, Lily destroys the tomatoes V is growing to raise money to buy soccer balls for children in Iraq. But the siblings find another way to raise the funds which, quite satisfyingly, also succeeds in bringing them together as a family. Humorous and insightful moments in Hicks's novel leaven subtle and affecting messages about communication, identity, honesty and forgiveness. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Hicks provides readers with a fresh look at blended families, offering much food for thought and several multilayered characters. Chapters alternate among each distinct voice and point of view, much like in Wendelin Van Draanen's Flipped (Knopf, 2001) and Carl Hiassen's Hoot (HarperCollins, 2002). The novel begins and ends with sixth-grader Lily, who is not only jealous of her "perfect" new stepsister, V, but feels ill-treated and verbally abused by her as well. Prior to the remarriage, she was the oldest, somewhat bossy, and always the "idea" person. While Lily can't think of an idea for a science project, V wants to grow tomatoes to sell in order to buy soccer balls to send to kids in Iraq. Existential Eric reads Hemingway, lives like a Spartan, and plays Rock-Paper-Scissors with Parker, the youngest. Plots interlace with characters as their goals and problems blend. False accusations, creative moneymaking schemes, edible cicadas, and Old Man of the Sea references all make this a worthwhile read. The tidy conclusion not only gives Lily the science-fair project she needs, but handily explains the title as well: she does research on birth order and what can happen when it becomes rearranged. A captivating and timely novel.-Debbie Whitbeck, West Ottawa Public Schools, Holland, MI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
When a family doubles in number, it's like shuffling a deck of cards to see who comes out on top. When Lily (11) and Parker's (9) mom marries Frank, Eric (15) and V's (13) dad, the pecking order changes for them all. Told in four voices, each set in a different type style, each kid expresses his or her feelings and frustrations. Fireworks erupt when someone breaks Lily's single sunflower. All fingers point to V who insists she didn't do it. In revenge, Lily kills V's tomato plants that she had planned to sell to send soccer balls to Iraqi kids. A rescue plan to raise money for V's project with a Rock-Scissors-Paper tournament becomes the uniting force. The death of Eric and V's brother, Parker's plan to sell Twinkies stuffed with cicadas, gothic Eric's obsession with Tolstoy and Lily's analysis of sibling traits according to oldest/youngest are all part of this engaging puzzle of four stepsiblings trying to sort out the pieces of new family relationships. Clever cover, real-life kids, humor and inventive plot detail make this a first-rate read, guaranteed to spur games of RSP. (Fiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596430617
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 680L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.74 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Betty Hicks is the author of I Smell Like Ham, Animal House and Iz, and Busted! "Everything about this novel was out of order," Betty Hicks says. "The family itself, their problems, their fun. I even found myself writing it out of order. It was wild. The only thing never in doubt was the title!" She lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

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(2)

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(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Loved it!

    I loved this book! I couldn't put it down! It seems like this book can become real life sometimes... in my family! My favorite part was when they decide to raise more money for soccer uniforms after they buy the soccer balls. I liked this part so much because it is so heart warming and nice!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2007

    Great!

    I read this book for a 6th grade report and it is great! I would recommend it for ages 9-13! Fantastic!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2006

    A Great Point of View

    Being involved in the 'blended' family on the adult end, I very much appreciated this story. It gave an honest look at the emotions that occur when two households and all that is involved try to merge into one, completely new and improved family. It emphasizes the existing differences and shows how the little things, such as praise, approval and just being able to share situations together make new memories that can co-exist with the old. It was an upbeat tale with many serious issues exposed between children, parents and relatives. It is not easy, but it can be done with minimum damage to all concerned if done with love.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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