Stealing Home

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When Thomas's Great-Aunt Linzy writes that she's coming for a "visit," Grandfather and Thomas have the sinking feeling her visit might last a lifetime. In this sequel to Storm in the Night and Go Fish, Stolz unveils the mixed blessings of having a long-lost relative move in, and all the love that can shine through if you know the secret to being a true family. "Stolz scores with finesse in this masterful book that really hits home." —SLJ.

Author Biography: Mary Stolz, winner of ...

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When Thomas's Great-Aunt Linzy writes that she's coming for a "visit," Grandfather and Thomas have the sinking feeling her visit might last a lifetime. In this sequel to Storm in the Night and Go Fish, Stolz unveils the mixed blessings of having a long-lost relative move in, and all the love that can shine through if you know the secret to being a true family. "Stolz scores with finesse in this masterful book that really hits home." —SLJ.

Author Biography: Mary Stolz, winner of the 1993 Kerlan Award for the body of her work, is the author of dozens of books that are perennial favorites of young readers, including two Newbery Honor Books, Belling the Tiger, illustrated by Beni Montresor, and The Noonday Friends. She lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Sergio Martinez was born and lives in Mexico City. He illustrated Weapons & Warfare by Milton Meltzer. His paintings have been exhibited in galleries around the world.

Though they still listen to baseball and go fishing, Thomas and his grandfather find life in their small house in Florida changed when Great-aunt Linzy comes to stay.

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Editorial Reviews

Hazel Rochman
"Cozy" is one of Thomas' favorite words, and it perfectly describes the warm, messy home he's always had with his grandfather and his cat, Ringo, near the Florida shore. They're happy together, fishing, reading, talking, working in the garden, and glued to the radio for the National League baseball games. Then great-aunt Linzy moves in with them. She takes Thomas' room and his cat (that Ringo prefers Aunt Linzy feels like a stab in Thomas' heart) and tries to clean up all their clutter. An ardent vegetarian, she lectures them on fishing, and she finds baseball a bore. Yet they feel sorry for her, an old lady who's lost her job and has no place to go. This book is for older readers than Stolz's picture book about Thomas and Grandfather, "Storm in the Night" , and her chapter book, "Go Fish" , were for; but like the earlier stories, this one is rooted in the particulars of daily life and conversation. The characters show change and conflict, even as they try to do their best. Thomas hates it when Aunt Linzy's bossy, but when she's anxious and apologetic it bothers him more. She's a nuisance, but she's drawn without condescension: smart and independent, she's a faster and better driver than Grandfather and just as good a cook. Grandfather is wise and loving, but he's also crotchety, and his wry humor speaks to all of us: "You're asking me to be consistent. That's unreasonable."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060211547
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/1/1992
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.74 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Stolz published her first book for young people in 1950 with Ursula Nordstrom and never looked back. Since then, she has written more than sixty books, been published in nearly thirty languages, and received two Newbery Honors (for Belling the Tiger and The Noonday Friends). The Bully of Barkham Street is the sequel to A Dog on Barkham Street (also available from HarperTrophy). Ms. Stolz lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Pat Cummings was born in Chicago but grew up traveling with her military family all over the world. She has been writing and illustrating children's books since she graduated from Pratt Institute. In addition to her art for the Coretta Scott King Award winner My Mama Needs Me by Mildred Pitts Walter, Pat's luminous work includes Angel Baby; Clean Your Room, Harvey Moon!; and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner Talking With Artists. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, Chuku Lee, and the ghost of their cat, Cash.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Thomas, standing beside his grandfather's chair, shivered and put his hands in his armpits.

"People think it's always warm in Florida, don't they, Grandfather?"

"People who don't live here might."

"It sure isn't warm this morning."

"Februaryl" Grandfather waved his hand. "A most unstable month. Would you like a fire?"

"That's a good idea."

Getting up, Grandfather opened the door of the cast-iron stove that stood on flagstones in a corner of their living room. With kindling and a couple of small logs from a brass bucket beside the stove, he soon had a merry blaze going.

"Better?" he asked.

"Yes," said Thomas, a bit crankily.

"Should've made one earlier, perhaps. Only I didn't think to."

"That's all right," said Thomas, relenting.

Grandfather was skinny and pretty old, but he never seemed to mind what the weather was like and never complained about it. He didn't say he wished it would get warmer, or cooler, or that the rain would go away, or the rain would come, the way most people did.

Now he didn't say he wished the fog would lift, though here it was-cold, gray, so thick that Thomas, still shivering a little, couldn't see through the window. Even Ringo, Thomas's cat, who usually wanted to stay outdoors in the morning, had sprinted back to the house after just a brief visit to the garden, where his duck, Ivan the Terrible, had come rushing out of the mist to greet him.

Ringo had greeted Ivan with a lick on the head, then left him outside, where he was still quacking and calling.

"Poor terrible Ivan," Thomas said."He's lonely. Do you suppose we should lethim in for a little bit?"

"Absolutely nod" said Grandfather. "I hive explained, more than once, that a duck is not a cat. There is no known way to house-train a duck."

Thomas shrugged. Ivan would make out okay in the yard, in the fog, and he, didnt really want to let him in the house. Actually, he didn't want Ivan, period. But there was no way to get rid of him.

He had come into their lives last spring, when Ringo had appeared one morning trailed by a tottery duckling.

"Lookit, Grandfather!" Thomas 'had shouted. "A little duck followed Ringo home! From the beach, I guess! Come see! Hurry!"

Grandfather, weeding in his stir-fry garden, straightened and walked over, carrying some collard greens. Pinching the tip of his nose, which he did when he was thinking, he studied a very small duckling covered with fluffy brown-and-yellow down. It kept toppling onto its bill, till it finally squatted in the grass, eyes fixed on Ringo. One of its wings looked odd to Thomas.

Ringo, looming over the duck, complained to Thomas. "Mewow!" he said. "This duck here followed me home! What am I going to do?" he cried, and twined around Thomas's leg.

"Well, well," said Grandfather. "We seem to have here a genuine case of imprinting."

"Huh?" said Thomas.

"I believe this is how it happened — " Grandfather began, and Thomas, who felt that his grandfather knew how just about everything happened, listened alertly.

"No doubt the mother of this fellow — if it's a fellow, we can't be sure of that yet — hatched her clutch down on the beach, and this one didn't get out of the shell on time. She assumed the egg was a dud and led the rest of her brood away to a freshwater pond."

"That wasn't so nice of her.

"Natural, Thomas, quite natural. She couldn't take chances with the rest of her family, waiting for an egg that might never hatch."

"So then what happened?"

"I'd say that after she left, this critter managed to peck its way into the world. And just then — along came Ringo! There are creatures — for some reason especially ducks. — that will take the first moving object they see for a parent. It's called 'imprinting.' The image they first see gets imprinted on their minds as the only one in the world to be followed. A newly hatched duckling will tag after a mechanical toy, if that's all it finds to attach itself to. Your duck here thinks Ringo is its mother. Father, I suppose. So it followed him home to us."

Thomas frowned. "That's sort of sad, isn't it?" When Grandfather said nothing, he asked, "What's wrong with its wing? It looks funny."

Grandfather hunkered down, put his vegetables to one side, and gently touched the maimed wing. "Hmmm. I think I know what happened."

Thomas smiled and waited. His grandfather didn't just give information. He told a story.

"Some little while ago, Thomas, a ghost crab was coming up through one of her many tunnels on the beach to scout for a bite of breakfast. She reached the entrance just as your duck here — or Ringo's duck, let's say — flopped out of the shell. Then — well then, alas and sad to say, she simply nipped off the tip of this wing. You can see how she got it, right to the first joint. I would say that Ringo appeared at that very moment. The crab ran back to safety, the duck looked at the cat, and 'Lo! and be whole!' as Krazy Kat used to say, imprinting occurred. I wonder what would have happened if the crab had appeared in time to be the first moving object to meet this duck's eyes?"

"Well, he wouldn't have followed a ghost crab down a tunnel, would he? Especially not one that had just bit off part of his wing."

"Still, it's curious to think about. A fowl imprinted on a crab. Probably would've been a first for Mother Nature."

"Does his wing hurt awfully bad?" Thomas asked, screwing up his face till his nose wrinkled and his eyes were almost closed. He always made faces at the thought of pain. Mostly his own, of course, but here was this poor little wounded duck right in front of him.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2000

    Best Book

    Stealing Home is one of my favorite books. I think children all over the world will love this book.

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