A Place Called Ugly

( 2 )

Overview

There'sno reasoning with Owen.The island cottage where he and his family have spent the last ten summers must be preserved.And he's going to do it. Never mind that bulldozer stands outside, ready to move in and level the place for a modern hotel. Never mind that summer's over and Owen's family is hurrying to catch the last ferry — or that school is starting — or that nobody sees it his way. Alone, fourteen-year-old Owen is going to stay and save the beautiful place others call ...

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Overview

There'sno reasoning with Owen.The island cottage where he and his family have spent the last ten summers must be preserved.And he's going to do it. Never mind that bulldozer stands outside, ready to move in and level the place for a modern hotel. Never mind that summer's over and Owen's family is hurrying to catch the last ferry — or that school is starting — or that nobody sees it his way. Alone, fourteen-year-old Owen is going to stay and save the beautiful place others call ugly.

At the end of the summer, 14-year-old Owen refuses to leave the beach house which has been his family's summer home for 10 years and which is scheduled for demolition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Termed ``compelling'' by PW, this early novel by the two-time Newbery Honor author concerns a boy who learns valuable lessons as he battles to save his family's summer cottage. Ages 12-up. Mar.q
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380724239
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/1995
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 487,038
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 620L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Avi

Avi is the author of more than sixty books, including Crispin: The Cross of Lead, a Newbery Medal winner, and Crispin: At the Edge of the World. His other acclaimed titles include The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Nothing But the Truth, both Newbery Honor Books, and most recently The Seer of Shadows. He lives with his family in Colorado.

Biography

Born in Manhattan in 1937, Avi Wortis grew up in Brooklyn in a family of artists and writers. Despite his bright and inquisitive nature, he did poorly in school. After several academic failures, he was diagnosed with a writing impairment called dysgraphia which caused him to reverse letters and misspell words. The few writing and spelling skills he possessed he had gleaned from his favorite hobby, reading -- a pursuit enthusiastically encouraged in his household.

Following junior high school, Avi was assigned to a wonderful tutor whose taught him basic skills and encouraged in him a real desire to write. "Perhaps it was stubbornness," he recalled in an essay appearing on the Educational Paperback Association's website, "but from that time forward I wanted to write in some way, some form. It was the one thing everybody said I could not do."

Avi finally learned to write, and well! He attended Antioch University, graduated from the University of Wisconsin, and received a master's degree in library science from Columbia in 1964. He worked as a librarian for the New York Public Library's theater collection and for Trenton State College, and taught college courses in children's literature, while continuing to write -- mostly plays -- on the side. In the 1970s, with two sons of his own, he began to craft stories for children. "[My] two boys loved to hear stories," he recalled. "We played a game in which they would give me a subject ('a glass of water') and I would have to make up the story right then. Out of that game came my first children's book, Things That Sometimes Happen." A collection of "Very Short Stories for Little Listeners," Avi's winning debut received very positive reviews. "Sounding very much like the stories that children would make up themselves," raved Kirkus Reviews, "these are daffy and nonsensical, starting and ending in odd places and going sort of nowhere in the middle. The result, however, is inevitably a sly grin."

Avi has gone on to write dozens of books for kids of all ages. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (1991) and Nothing but the Truth (1992) were named Newbery Honor Books, and in 2003, he won the prestigious Newbery Medal for his 14th-century adventure tale, Crispin: The Cross of Lead. His books range from mysteries and adventure stories to historical novels and coming-of-age tales; and although there is often a strong moral core to his work, he leavens his message with appealing warmth and humor. Perhaps his philosophy is summed up best in this quote from his author profile on Scholastic's website: "I want my readers to feel, to think, sometimes to laugh. But most of all I want them to enjoy a good read."

Good To Know

In a Q&A with his publisher, Avi named Robert Louis Stevenson as one of his greatest inspirations, noting that "he epitomizes a kind of storytelling that I dearly love and still read because it is true, it has validity, and beyond all, it is an adventure."

When he's not writing, Avi enjoys photography as one of his favorite hobbies.

Avi got his unique nickname from his twin sister, Emily..

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    1. Also Known As:
      Avi Wortis (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 23, 1937
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Monday

"Owen! Time to go!"

I was spying down from behind the crest of the sand dune back of the house. Our car looked like an upside-down bug, a bug with spindly legs waving franticly in the air Fishing rods were sticking out the back window, my bike was hanging off the rear, and the roof rack was piled with more junk than we had brought. It was the end of summer Labor Day Two o'clock in the afternoon. Tune to go home.

But not me. I was going to stay.

"Owen! Time to go!"

My parents stood there, helpless, not knowing where to even begin to look for me.

"Owen!" Dad shouted again, cupping his hands around Ins mouth. The sound carried over the beach, over the dunes, across the East Neck. It seemed to make the marsh grass ripple, twisting the leaves slightly, green sides flashing.

"0wen!"

"He's not serious," I heard Mom say.

"Yes he is," Dad answered carefully, like he does when he's trying to make up his mind. He was dressed for the city: shoes polished, slacks creased, even a white shirt.

"His brother or sister would never have pulled a stunt like this," my mother said. "It's absurd!" She used a hand to keep the sun's glare out of her eyes as she searched for me. "He can't stay alone."

My father checked his watch. "If he doesn't show up in five minutes, he will. Any later and we miss the ferry. That's the impossible part. We'll be stuck here."

They were really upset. That's what I had been counting on, not giving them any real choice, or time.

"I just don't believe him," Mom said wearily. "Owen!" she called again. "I bet he's out therewatching and listening to us."

I was so nervous I closed my eyes.

"Where's that note of his?" my dad asked.

My mom began to read: "Dear Folks, I've decided not to go. I've decided to stay here. Don't worry. I can take care of myself. Owen."

Then my mom added: "He spelled 'decided' wrong both times."

I opened my eyes and watched my father poke the front tire with his foot. "You know how much he loves the place," he said, glancing back at the house.

"What difference does that make?" my mother burst out. "It's a dumb, immature stunt."

"But he's done it," Dad said, opening the back door of the car and pulling out my suitcase.

"What are you doing?" Mom asked, alarmed.

"We have to go, don't we? And he's determined to stay, isn't he?"

"For God's sake..."

"Look, he can't stay for more than a couple of days," said my father. "Let him. I'm fired of all his lecturing about how we cave in. Really, what can happen? People know him. Even the phone is working."

"Tell you what: We'll leave word in town. If Owen doesn't leave after two days, we'll have the policeman put him on the city bus. It's worth it. Two days alone, and he'll give up on his own. It's better than having him sulk for weeks." He took some bills out of his wallet. "How much do you think I should leave?"

Mom objected. "He's fourteen. He's supposed to be starting a new school."

My father looked at his watch again. "Find him. You've got two minutes."

Mom began to say something, then angrily jerked the car door open, took her seat, and slammed herself in. My suitcase in his hand, Dad hurried back to the house.

I watched him go. Having clothes and money was more than I had counted on. I only had six bucks in my pocket.

A few moments later my father was back. "Owen!" he shouted for the last time. As he got into the car I heard him say, "We'd better tell the people at Janick's that he's still here."

I lay there, heart beating wildly, not daring to move, knowing that if they saw me, they could make me leave.

"Go! Go!" I kept yelling in my head.

Car wheels spinning in the sand, they backed up, swung around, then churned up the driveway until they reached the hard road. I watched them speed away.

They were gone. And I was alone.

I lay atop the dune trying to get my breath back. It took a while. But when I did stand up, I dug my toes into the sand and looked down.

In front of me was Norton's Bay with its silent, endlessly lapping waves running seven miles west from Grenlow's Island -- where I was -- to the mainland at Fairport. The tide, still moving out, had left the sand glistening with seawater tears.

Off to the left was the dead-still salt marsh that marked the end of the East Neck, thick with spiky grass and firm paths of sand, a place to dig for mussels or hunt for crabs.

To the right, the long, sandy beach.

And before me, about a hundred feet above the high-water mark of twisted, dried seaweed, beyond the sea wall of wood, stood the house, the only one on the East Neck.

The house.

It's what this is all about

More of a cabin than a house, it was supported by stilts two feet over the sand. It had been built for summer use and had only three rooms, plus a bathroom, a kitchen, and a screened-in front porch, the screens dark green from being so old. You could look out, not in.

The house had a shingle-covered roof and once white walls that had come to be a dead-fish gray. There was a chimney too, left gap-toothed by cement falling out. It didn't even stand straight...

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2008

    Amazing Book

    Owen should be a new role model. He doesn't smoke, drink, and he likes his college age siblings. He deals with his problems in a very cool way. This is an amazing book, with good descriptiveness and suspense. I would totally reccomend it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2002

    good book read it!

    This book is really good it tells about a 14 year old boy who wants to save his house. But has a hard time doing it, in this book he tries to convince people how great his house is and her runs into trouble on the way. If you like books with some suspence and some young romance than this is the book for you! There is a little violence and it is kindof gory and thats why i only marked it with 4 stars. But it was a really good book so please read it.

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