Step by Wicked Step

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Five schoolmates share the stories of their parents' estrangements, divorces, and remarriages and the effects these events have had on their lives.

Five schoolmates share the stories of their parents' estrangements, divorces, and remarriages and the effects these events have had on their lives.

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Overview

Five schoolmates share the stories of their parents' estrangements, divorces, and remarriages and the effects these events have had on their lives.

Five schoolmates share the stories of their parents' estrangements, divorces, and remarriages and the effects these events have had on their lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Five children in a spooky mansion share accounts of life with their step-parents. PW's starred review observed, "Fine has an uncanny gift for dialogue, and her protagonists voice subtle perceptions in the clearest and most natural of terms." Ages 9-12. July
Children's Literature - Alexandria LaFaye
This British novel begins with a chilling tale of a small group of school children spending a stormy night in an old mansion with a secret room, but it takes a unexpected twist. The story turns as the children settle down for the night to read the diary of a long dead inhabitant of the house. They discover that, like him, they are all from families affected by their parents' broken relationships. The children tell the stories of their own lives and explore how divorce and remarriage has affected them. Told with tense honesty, these tales look deep into the issues that children cope with when their families go through drastic changes. The author provides a spine-tingling trip into a spooky manor house and a probing exploration of the trials, traumas, and treasures of building and rebuilding families.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7The tantalizing title and eerie opening will immediately pull readers into this skillfully crafted story. In fact, this novel is really five stories within a story that are induced by a story, like a nesting puzzle. When five school kids are sent ahead to a class overnight in a spooky house, they discover a hidden tower room that contains an old, dusty album, written by Richard Clayton Harwick, labeled "Read and weep." As they read Richard's sad tale of how he made the decision to leave home because of his dislike for his stepfather, it triggers the realization of why the five of them were grouped together. Their names were asterisked on the bus list because each one had to put two addresses on the permission slip for the trip; each of them has divorced or remarried parents. As Rob, Colin, Ralph, Claudia, and Pixie tell their stories, comprehension and compassion for the problems, fears, and concerns children face in similar family situations today fall into place step-by-step, story-by-story. These kids are genuine, their stories are poignant, and the book as a whole is affecting without being maudlin, didactic, or bibliotherapeutic. "Fine" writing and a surefire success, like the author's earlier efforts.Julie Cummins, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
A sleepover in a reputedly haunted house becomes a night of revelations and storytelling for five classmates in this lightly therapeutic tale.

Fine (Flour Babies, 1994, etc.) sets a deliciously spooky scene: On a dark and stormy night, Colin, Rob, Claudia, Ralph, and Pixie discover a hidden door in their gloomy quarters, and behind that a dusty diary titled "Richard Clayton Harwick—My Story. Read and Weep." They settle down for a dramatic reading and hear a bitter tale of the death of a father, his usurpation by a hated stepfather, and the subsequent demise of Harwick's entire family. This sparks the children—each with a very different experience—to tell about their own divorced or absent parents, of coping with siblings and stepsiblings, shuttling among various residences, meeting new adults, living with or letting out resentments. Offering a wide variety of alternative living arrangements, plus a selection of apothegms—"Everyone's story is different," "Misery isn't a baton in a relay race . . . you can't get rid of it just by passing it on"—Fine doesn't conceal her agenda or create much of a plot, but gives her characters distinct voices and attitudes and helps readers understand that wounds do heal, if allowed to.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440413295
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 6/9/1997
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 144
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 700L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.21 (w) x 7.64 (h) x 0.36 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2001

    A captivating novel.

    On a wild and stormy night, five students are sent ahead on a school trip. They think that they are simply spending a stormy night in an old mansion with a secret room, but it takes an unexpected twist. Gathered together in a spooky mansion, they find a secret room and a mysterious old diary. The children settle down for the night to read the diary of a long dead inhabitant of the house. Little do they know that they share a common bond - they are all members of stepfamilies. They discover that, like him, they are all from families affected by their parents' broken relationships. The children tell the stories of their own lives and explore how divorce and remarriage has affected them. Each person reveals his story, step-by-step. Told with tense honesty, these tales look deep into the issues that children cope with when their families go through drastic changes. I¹ve learned so much about children with divorced parents, and it shocked me. The author provides a spine-tingling trip into a spooky manor house and a probing exploration of the trials, traumas, and treasures of building and rebuilding families. Her detailed explanations of each character and their experiences captivated my attention. This British novel begins with a chilling tale, but ends with leaving long-lasting memories in the reader¹s heart.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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