PaperQuake: A Puzzle

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Violet's paralyzing fear of the San Francisco earthquakes changes when her family renovates an old building. An aftershock dislodges a letter addressed in 1906 to Baby V-and Violet is certain the disturbing letter is intended for her. 4-1/2 X 7.

Author Biography: Kathryn Reiss holds degrees from Duke University and the University of Michigan. She is the author of Time Windows, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; The Glass House People; Dreadful Sorry; and Pale Phoenix, an Edgar ...

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1998 Trade paperback New. No dust jacket as issued. Clean and tight-unused copy-Excellent! ! 274 p.

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Overview

Violet's paralyzing fear of the San Francisco earthquakes changes when her family renovates an old building. An aftershock dislodges a letter addressed in 1906 to Baby V-and Violet is certain the disturbing letter is intended for her. 4-1/2 X 7.

Author Biography: Kathryn Reiss holds degrees from Duke University and the University of Michigan. She is the author of Time Windows, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; The Glass House People; Dreadful Sorry; and Pale Phoenix, an Edgar Award finalist. She lives with her family in Northern California.

Certain that she is being drawn by more than coincidences into the lives of people living nearly 100 years ago, Violet, who feels like the odd sister in a set of triplets, searches for clues to help her avert an imminent tragedy.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 1998: At first I was impatient with the main character in this novel, considering her shallow and boring. Reiss then, as the story progresses, turns this one-dimensional girl into quite an interesting person, truly developing her character. Violet is the odd-triplet out, with her sisters confident, lovely and friendly, while she is hesitant and fearful, envying them all the while. The triplets live in Berkeley, California, and earthquakes feature large in the plot. Violet is frightened by the frequent quakes, even when they aren't strong; so she hates the thought of her science assignment, to investigate the 1906 earthquake that devastated San Francisco. This story becomes too convoluted to summarize here, but essentially characters Violet discovers through letters and diary entries from 1906 intervene in her own life to help prevent another earthquake disaster. Although this has elements of the supernatural, it doesn't seem like a typical fantasy/SF novel, and it isn't even quite a ghost story; but we could say definitely that many strange coincidences aren't really coincidences at all, as the past temporarily melds with the present. I think there are several elements here that will appeal to junior high students who will like the unfolding of Violet's courage, the eerie coincidences, the realistic sister and friend issues, and first boyfriend excitement. (A Time Travel Mystery). KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 1998, Harcourt, 274p.,
— Claire Rosser
Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
Small, dark-haired 13-year-old Violet often feels like the "odd triplet out" in her interactions with her two older, healthier, golden-haired sisters. In this suspenseful fantasy novel, the setting changes from Berkeley/San Francisco today and the same area at the time of the disastrous 1906 quake. The author skillfully interweaves facts and fears about earthquakes with Vi's increasingly desperate attempts to make sense of her mysterious dreams, visions and written clues from the past to try to prevent quake related deaths in the near future. Vi's quest for her own identity and threads of romance add to the appeal of this complex, but fast moving young adult novel.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
When the triplets were born, Violet was the sickly one with brown hair. The two others were blond and bubbly. Now that they are twelve, Violet is healthy and she hates being treated differently from her siblings. But Vi has nightmares that seem to presage another quake involving the Golden Gate Bridge and many deaths. Can she stop the disaster if it occurs or is it all a figment of her imagination; part of the reason she is "different?" The author weaves a fascinating tale when Vi discovers parts of letters and diary entries in the old Victorian house her parents have bought. Perhaps she is related to the young woman named "V" who died in 1906. Reiss has crafted a rich, romantic tale that links the past with the present.
VOYA - Meg Wilson
Living in Berkeley, California, Violet is-ironically-terrified of earthquakes. For Berkeley sits right on a fault line and is occasionally rocked by quakes. Violet is the odd one out in a set of triplets, her sisters being identical twins. Plagued by a weak heart and sickly infancy, Violet is tired of being treated like a baby and wants to be more like her sisters. When she finds a mysterious old letter that appears to be addressed to her, but is dated 1906, Violet gets her chance to prove how special she is, even if she is different. A series of letters, dreams, and diary entries soon involve Violet and her sisters in an intricate mystery that seems to predict doom for San Francisco in the form of a very damaging earthquake. Violet assembles the last clues and cleverly prevents disaster just in the nick of time, closing the gap in the space-time continuum just as the earth's plates shift to close its gaps. This is an interesting blend of mystery and time travel that will keep many readers hooked to the end. Using writing techniques reminiscent of Nancy Drew books, Reiss has created a page-turner with lots of cliffhangers and suspense. The heroine is a likeable underdog who is easy to root for. The dialog is somewhat unrealistic; Violet is supposedly slow in school but she talks like an adult. This does not seriously mar the story, however, and for many young people, particularly Nancy Drew fans, this will be an enjoyable read. VOYA Codes: 3Q 4P M J (Readable without serious defects, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8Eighth-grader Violet, a triplet, is fragile and plain compared to her two popular sisters. Suddenly, she begins discovering mysterious messages from the time of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Old letters and diary entries refer to a girl named "V," who strangely resembles Violet herself in the 1990s, and there are hints that something terrible happened to "V" nearly 100 years ago. As the clues build up, Violet gradually figures out that she is being sent a warning from the past and fears for her life. The messages make Violet stand out from her sisters, and she discovers strength and resourcefulness she never knew she had. The story begins slowly as the various plot elements are laid out. As the clues start to come together, Violet's experiences become more absorbing. The repeated discoveries she makes seem too unlikely and coincidental at first, but when she learns that a force from the past has planted them in her way, it all makes sense. There is true excitement by the climax, as Violet discovers that the Golden Gate Bridge may collapse in a quake, and only she can prevent a tragedy. The resolution is particularly satisfying, as Violet not only saves the day, but resists the temptation to brag about her secret heroism. Although the protagonist is not a fully drawn character, this title should have strong appeal for fans of fantasy, ghosts, and time travel. Readers who persist through the slow beginning will be rewarded with an absorbing and suspenseful adventure.Steven Engelfried, West Linn Public Library, OR
Horn Book Magazine
Violet, Rose, and Jasmine Jackstone are triplets, but only beautiful and popular Rose and Jasmine are identical. Violet is the odd one out; she looks quite different and was, for a long time, very frail. She also has a passionate fear of earthquakes and suffers visions of children crying for help whenever there's an earthquake in the San Francisco Bay area, where they live. As the triplets help their parents in readying a new store for their pros-perous florist chain, Violet begins to find mysterious letters and messages, obviously written in the past, which seem to refer to her and incidents in her life. They also present a historical puzzle, seeming to hint at a murder and involvement in the great 1906 earthquake and fire. As Violet pursues this riddle, gaining self-confidence, she begins to engage her sisters' interest and respect, loses her fear of dying young, and even meets a boy she likes. The two themes of adventure and family relationships are deftly woven into the historical drama, and heightened by an atmospheric sense of place. Although credibility is begged here and there, this is a clever and skillfully written mystery.
Kirkus Reviews
A modern California teenager finds letters and diary pages from the early years of this century in this gripping, emotionally turbulent story from the author of Dreadful Sorry (1993). Violet, the non-identical member in a set of triplets, has had heart problems since birth, but is nevertheless tired of being babied by her sisters and parents. Helping to restore an old San Francisco house, she finds love letters from "Hal" to "V" and a 1906 diary, kept in the back of old ledgers, in which V's nurse, Laela, describes caring for her chronically ill charge and professes her own hidden love for Hal. Oddly, the more Violet learns about V's life, the more her own seems to move in parallel; even more distressingly, as a series of small earthquakes rock the area, Violet begins having visions and dreams of children caught in a fiery disaster. Both V and Laela had visions too, of disaster on a great bridge, and as more pages of the diary fall into Violet's hands, she becomes convinced that she's being sent a warning. Is another great quake coming? As Reiss weaves in well-timed twists and eerie coincidences that set the plot thrumming with tension, she also captures with compelling insight the changes adolescence brings to the complex relationships among Violet, her sisters, and her parents. Reiss juggles multiple themes and plotlines with masterful control in this absorbing page-turner. (Fiction. 11-15)
From the Publisher
"An adroit fusion of magic, romance and adventure."—Publishers Weekly
"[An] absorbing page-turner."—Kirkus Reviews
"A clever and skillfully written mystery."—The Horn Book
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152047078
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
  • Publication date: 4/1/1998
  • Pages: 274

Meet the Author

KATHRYN REISS is the author of many acclaimed time-travel mystery novels for teens. She lives in northern California.

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Customer Reviews

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