The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls

The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls

4.6 34
by Elise Primavera

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For seven years, bad luck has followed Ivy around like a dog on a leash. Her father disappeared, her mother is a washed–up beauty–pageant winner, and now Viola and her mother have moved into a raqmshackle house on Gumm Street. Ivy's new neighbors–bookish Pru, stuck–up Cat, and wannabe adventurer Franny–are worse than unfriendly. But

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For seven years, bad luck has followed Ivy around like a dog on a leash. Her father disappeared, her mother is a washed–up beauty–pageant winner, and now Viola and her mother have moved into a raqmshackle house on Gumm Street. Ivy's new neighbors–bookish Pru, stuck–up Cat, and wannabe adventurer Franny–are worse than unfriendly. But then a mysterious pair of ruby red slippers turn up, and the four girls are swept away...not to OZ, but to the jaw–droppingly strange lands of SPOZ, and SPUDZ, and OOZE, pursued by the fashionably mad Cha–Cha Staccato, who bears a frightening resemblance to a certain wicked witch....

Ages: 8 –12

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Though her voice here is predominantly melodic, Delaney pleasingly musters a bit of acid (of the 10-year-old girl variety) as well as a sense of mystery befitting Primavera's quirky, magic-tinged adventure. Ivy and her mother, cursed by seven years' bad luck (brought on by a broken mirror), move to a relative's spooky old house on Gumm Street in the idyllic candy-colored town of Sherbet. Ivy is initially jazzed at having girls her own age around until she finds out that new neighbors and classmates Pru, Cat and Franny already dislike each other and seem to dislike her. But the girls are brought together for a most mystifying and entertaining journey ( la L. Frank Baum's Oz) when Ivy discovers the ruby slippers worn in the original Hollywood production of The Wizard of Oz at the home of her 122-year-old piano teacher, Mr. Staccato. The blend of action, fantasy, humor and real-life girl behavior will have listeners eager for Primavera's next installment to this planned series. Ages 8-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Ann Sanger
Although Elise Primavera has been writing and illustrating books for children for over twenty years, this is her first novel. Booklovers will be familiar with her bestselling picture book, Auntie Claus. Her pen and ink sketches in this book bring to life the characters in the story and clarify the magical lands of Spoz, Spudz, and Ooze. Fast-paced, nail-biting adventure is sure to engage the reader to finish the 430-page novel in one day. Four uniquely different girls live on Gumm Street in a perfectly wonderful place called Sherbet. Overly cautious Pru, adventurous Franny, athletic Cat, and their new neighbor Ivy, attend Sherbet Academy founded by Hieronymus Gumm. Although the same age, the girls are not friends; in fact they strongly dislike one another. However, to come to the aid of unlucky Ivy, the four put aside their differences. They end up working together to pool their distinctive talents to navigate through loathsome underworlds, escape from their evil captors, and defeat the evil Cha Cha Staccato. Repeated references to the wicked witch in the imaginary land of Oz and the magical ruby slippers, provide a connection to a well known favorite. The unbelievable creatures the girls encounter on their trek to find the missing slipper makes this a page turning experience. The unending action moves the story along. This book is sure to become an instant hit. Thankfully Primavera is working on the sequel.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Set in the picturesque town of Sherbet, this story centers around four girls who live on Gumm Street. Franny, Pru, and Cat are not friends (at least not at first). Pru thinks Franny is reckless. Franny thinks Pru is a big baby. And they both dislike Cat because she is just too perfect. But when Ivy moves into the neighborhood, everything changes. First she discovers a pair of ruby slippers. Then the girls' piano teacher, Mr. Staccato, disappears. And, finally, a strange and magnetic woman claiming to be his sister moves into his house. The girls soon realize that they must ban together to save Sherbet. With the help of two dogs, a jinx, Pru's copy of The Wizard of Oz, and ESP, they set out on an adventure that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Primavera's illustrations, laced throughout the narrative, are small artistic gems that unite the text. To truly enjoy The Secret Order, readers should be familiar with L. Frank Baum's original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. However, even those only familiar with the 1939 film will take pleasure in this delightful tale of friendship and adventure.-Lisa Marie Williams, Fairfax County Public Library System, Reston, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
When Ivy Diamond comes to live in the ramshackle old house on Gumm Street in the town of Sherbet, the lives of her neighbors, talented Cat, cautious Pru (think Officer Buckle) and adventurous Franny, become much more interesting. Primavera's comic fantasy adventure pays homage to both Baum's Oz and Hollywood's as the girls pursue the theft of a silver slipper by a wicked, though stylish, witch. Lively black-and-white illustrations woven into clear, wide-leaded text give energy and charm to nearly every page. Great fun in parts, ambitious and good-natured, with satire, invention and silliness a la Baum: Besides the girls, green teen witches and an amusingly benevolent mama potato in the land of Spudz stand out among a crowded cast of figures and places. Transitions and expository narrative occasionally weigh down the story, while the plot careens a bit wildly and untidily to its conclusion. A mixed bag, but entertaining. (Fiction. 8-11)

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Read an Excerpt

The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls

By Elise Primavera

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006

Elise Primavera

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060569468

Chapter One


Franny liked the tops of things. She liked mountaintops and rooftops, and she wanted to be at the top of her class and a top-notch cartwheeler. Why? Because in first grade Franny became painfully aware of the middle and the possibility that she might be dismally average.

Franny sighed. Now spring break was almost over and, to take her mind off the horrible reality of going back to school, Franny stood at the top of #3 Gumm Street. Up there, she didn't feel average at all. She felt like Sir Edmund Hillary on the summit of Mount Everest or Amelia Earhart buzzing around in her airplane. Up in her tower she was Fearless Franny Muggs, Queen of All She Surveyed.

She squinted through her binoculars. No sign of Pru. No sign of Cat. Good, she thought. She swung around in the opposite direction to have a look at #5 Gumm Street. Not a trace was left from the rogue blizzard that had blown in from the west a few weeks before. It had surprised everyone in town--a blizzard in Sherbet? No one even owned a snow shovel.

One midnight right after that, Franny could have sworn she'd seen lights flickering about inside the old wreck of a house at #5 Gumm Street. She had ducked behind the railing of her balcony and strained her eyes through the glasses to see, but the lights had disappeared. Probablyzombies, Franny had decided.

If you believe in zombies (and you should), #5 Gumm Street was the perfect place for them. The house had been vacant for as long as Franny could remember, and vines had taken over to such an extent that from a distance the house looked like a giant hair ball. It leaned so badly to one side that it appeared as if it were caught in a perpetually stiff breeze.

There were no signs of zombies today, though. Instead, Franny spied a moving van off in the distance. It came closer and closer and halted right in front of #5!

Two men hopped out. They carried a few boxes and some ratty old furniture into the house. A moment later a Ford Fiesta pulled up. A woman and a birdlike girl with a bed pillow tucked under her arm--who, Franny figured, was probably the woman's daughter--stepped out of the car.

After a few quick trips, the moving men pulled themselves up into the truck and drove away. The woman and girl went inside through the double front doors that hung precariously from their hinges.

Not five minutes had passed when another moving van arrived. The woman came out of the house, and there was a lot of discussion. The moving men kept pointing and shaking their heads yes, and the woman kept shaking her head no. It seemed like she didn't want whatever it was, and Franny was afraid the moving men were just going to leave--which would be awful, because she was dying to know what was in the truck.

But then the girl came outside and said something to the woman, and she seemed to give in.

With much grunting and groaning, the moving men lifted an enormous, gleaming grand piano from out of the truck and gentled it through the front doors.

Franny went inside at this point. Her tower room was about the size of a large horse stall. There was a small freezer for her Popsicles, a microwave for her hot chocolate, and a desk with a globe on it. Thumbtacked to the small closet door was a calendar with a picture of Mount Everest and a quotation from Amelia Earhart: "Adventure is worthwhile in itself."

New people moving into the zombie house--nothing as exciting as this had ever happened on Gumm Street! I'll bet there's not even any heat or running water inside that house, she thought with a thrill. Maybe in the winter they'll have to melt snow to drink, like Sir Edmund Hillary and his faithful Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, when they climbed Mount Everest! It was time to meet the new neighbors face-to-face. Franny hung her binoculars from a hook and clattered down the spiral staircase that wound around and around the outside of her wedding-cake house.

Within moments Franny was on the threshold of #5 Gumm Street. She could hardly wait. She'd always wanted to see what this house was like on the inside. From behind the door came the sound of someone playing the piano. Franny remembered her own piano lesson days. The endless practicing, the interminable scales, topped off at the end of each week by . . . The Lesson. It's true that Mr. Staccato, her piano teacher, was very patient and sympathetic, telling Franny that she wasn't tone-deaf, just "musically challenged." But she got worse instead of better, and once she played so poorly she actually thought Mr. Staccato was going to cry. She stopped taking lessons after that. But what she was listening to now . . . well, it made her sound like Beethoven.

Franny knocked.

The music--if you want to call it that--continued, but the door creakily opened, and the woman Franny had seen earlier appeared.

"Hello," Franny said. "My name is Franny Muggs, and I'd like to be the first one to welcome you to Gumm Street!"

"Thanks, hon," replied the woman. "I'm Pearl Diamond, and that's my daughter, Ivy." She hooked her thumb over her shoulder in the general direction of the piano behind her.

Only one word came to mind as soon as Franny saw Pearl Diamond--sparkly. She had gleaming blond hair arranged in a complicated way, and on her T-shirt she had rhinestones in the shape of a French poodle. She had sparkly bracelets, sparkly blue eyes, and sparkly white teeth.

"Tell me, hon, you know any piano-type people around here?" Pearl said.

"I'm musically challenged," Franny replied. "At least, that's what Mr.--"

"Staccato," said a man with an English accent from behind Franny.


Excerpted from The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls
by Elise Primavera
Copyright © 2006 by Elise Primavera.
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.

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