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Surviving the Applewhites

Surviving the Applewhites

4.0 112
by Stephanie S. Tolan

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Jake, a budding juvenile delinquent, is sent for home schooling to the arty and eccentric Applewhite family's Creative Academy, where he discovers talents and interests he never knew he had.


Jake, a budding juvenile delinquent, is sent for home schooling to the arty and eccentric Applewhite family's Creative Academy, where he discovers talents and interests he never knew he had.

Editorial Reviews

Kathleen Odean
Tough Jake Semple, who's been expelled from school after school, has one last chance with the eccentric Applewhite family, artists who school their four children at home. Largely self-absorbed, except for the sensible but initially hostile twelve-year-old, E.D., the Applewhites barely notice Jake's spiked red hair and multiple body piercings. Instead, they turn to him to play a role in Mr. Applewhite's local production of The Sound of Music. Jake, who's surprised to find he likes acting and singing, and E.D., whose organizational skills suddenly blossom as stage manager, become allies as Jake adjusts to the frenetic but always funny Applewhites.
Publishers Weekly
When a boy is kicked out of yet another school, the Applewhites, an eccentric family of artists, offer to let him live with them and attend their unstructured Creative Academy. According to PW, "humor abounds in the ever-building chaos." Ages 10-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, July 2002: With his spiked hair, piercings, and all-black clothing, 13-year-old Jake looks the part of the juvenile delinquent he's supposed to be. After all, he burnt down his school (though it was an accident) after his parents went to jail for growing marijuana, and he's been kicked out of a bunch of schools in his native Rhode Island. Now he's staying with his grandfather in rural North Carolina, and the only educational institution that will have him is the Creative Academy, the home school run by the zany Applewhite family on their farm, Wit's End. The Applewhites, from four-year-old Destiny to grandfather Zedediah, are all creative, talented, artistic types, and their haphazardly run school is more of a self-education opportunity. E.D., the almost 13-year-old daughter of the clan, feels like the odd one out—her talents lie in organization, not in art, writing, dance, or theater, like the rest of the family. But when her director father undertakes a local production of The Sound of Music, all the Applewhites throw themselves into making it a success. E.D. is indispensable as stage manager, and Jake gets a starring role in the play and discovers a passion for the stage. Just like the butterflies they hatch from caterpillars as part of a self-directed science project, the two adolescents find their wings. This is a fun, quick read that will amuse younger YAs. The Applewhites and their wacky exploits are engaging, the story moves swiftly, and Jake's gradual transformation from unhappy bad boy to eager participant in the play and in Applewhite family life is credible and satisfying. Along the way, Tolan pokes fun at theartistic temperament and at the media. An entertaining romp. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2002, HarperTrophy, 216p., Ages 12 to 15.
—Paula Rohrlick
Individuality is important to Jake Semple. He is a juvenile delinquent who sports an eyebrow ring, spiked and garish red hair, black clothes, numerous earrings—anything it takes to be noticed. In a final attempt to rehabilitate him, Jake is sent to the Applewhites, a quirky, artistic family whose many interests include butterflies, goats, dogs, and theater. Before long, Jake is immersed in the family's lives and projects. Soon, Jake no longer feels a need to make a statement with his appearance, since no one really cares about how he looks. He only wants to find his true self. The Applewhites's sense of family, love of learning, and ability to accept people of all backgrounds send a strong yet subtle message. Readers will find this book appeals to them on many levels. It especially speaks to the rebel in all of us. This book will pique the interest of even the most reluctant reader. 2002, HarperCollins, 216 pp.,
— Joy Frerichs
School Library Journal
In this laugh-out-loud novel, a young teen on the fast track to the juvenile detention center suddenly finds himself living in rural North Carolina with the outrageously eccentric Applewhite clan. Jake Semple, 13, has been expelled from a long line of schools before coming to the Applewhites to be homeschooled. This extended family forms what a visiting reporter christens an "artistic dynasty," with various creative endeavors absorbing the adults' time and attention. Jake is left largely to his own devices, since the family doesn't believe in telling their charges what or when to study. He develops a loyal following consisting of an active four-year-old and an overweight basset hound, and his transformation is complete once he becomes enmeshed in the family's production of The Sound of Music. Quirky characters, from the cub reporter to the visiting guru, add to the offbeat humor. The Applewhites' over-the-top personalities mark them as literary kin of Helen Cresswell's Bagthorpes. Running beneath the narrative that gently pokes fun at everything from sculpture to TV documentaries, though, is also the story of a boy allowing himself to belong and begin to discover his own potential. This has terrific booktalk and read-aloud potential, and will help fill the need for humorous contemporary fiction.-Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Booklist (starred review)
“Tolan has pulled off something special here.”
"Tolan has pulled off something special here."
—Booklist (starred review)
“Tolan has pulled off something special here.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“Tolan has pulled off something special here.”

Product Details

Harpercollins Childrens Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.80(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"My name is not Edie. It's E.D. E period, D period."

"What kind of a name is that?"

The boy slouching against the porch railing had scarlet spiked hair, a silver ring through one dark brown eyebrow, and too many earrings to count. He was dressed entirely in black -- black T-shirt, black jeans, black high-top running shoes -- and the look in his eyes was pure mean.

"My kind," E. D. Applewhite said. She had no intention of telling this creep the story of her name. She could tell by looking at him that he'd never heard of Edith Wharton, her mother's favorite writer. Being probably the only almost-thirteen-year-old girl in the whole country named Edith, she had no intention of giving him even that little bit of ammunition to use against her. E.D., she thought, was at least dignified -- like a corporate executive, which one day she just might be. "What kind of a name is Jake Semple?"

Two can play at that game, the boy's face said. "Mine."

Not an original bone in his body, E.D. thought. Just a plain ordinary delinquent.

According to her friend Melissa, though, Jake Semple was famous. He had been kicked out of the public schools in the whole state of Rhode Island. Melissa wasn't sure what all he'd done to achieve that particular distinction, but the word around Traybridge was that one thing he did was burn down his old school. He'd come to North Carolina to live with his grandfather Henry Dugan, a neighbor of the Applewhites, and go to Traybridge Middle School.

The plan had not lasted long. No one in living memory had been thrown out of Traybridge Middle School, but Jake Semple had managed toaccomplish that feat in three weeks flat. At least the building was still standing. It was only the middle of September, and he had run out of schools that were willing to risk taking him.

Mr. Dugan was inside at that moment discussing with E.D.'s parents, her Aunt Lucille, Uncle Archie, and Grandpa Zedediah the arrangement the two families and Jake's social worker had worked out for continuing Jake's education.

Jake Semple was the first person E.D. had ever met who had a social worker. She thought that was probably only one step away from having a probation officer, which is what Jake's parents would have when they got out of jail. That was why Jake had a social worker -- because his parents were in jail for growing marijuana in their basement and offering some to an off-duty sheriff's deputy. E.D. didn't know how long they were going to be in jail, but at least a year. She figured criminal tendencies ran in families. The kid had burned down his school just after his parents were arrested.

E.D.'s Aunt Lucille was a poet and had been conducting a workshop at Traybridge Middle School when Jake was kicked out. This whole terrible idea had been hers. She'd told Mr. Dugan about the Creative Academy, which was what E.D.'s father had named the Applewhite home school. Only Aunt Lucille, whose view of life was almost pathologically sunny, would get the idea that after an entire state had admitted it couldn't cope with the kid and after Traybridge Middle School had been defeated in less than a month, the Applewhites should take him in. The Creative Academy didn't even have any trained teachers, let alone guidance counselors and armed security guards. There were a whole bunch of buildings the kid could burn down at Wit's End -- the main house, all eight cottages, the goat shed, a toolshed, and the barn.

But somehow Aunt Lucille had convinced everybody else. E.D. had been the only family member to vote against letting Jake Semple join them. She'd begged her grandfather, who usually had more sense than all the rest of the family combined, to put a stop to the idea. "You know how Aunt Lucille can't ever believe a bad thing about anybody!" she'd told him. "Her attitude about people is downright dangerous."

He'd only twiddled with his mustache and said that he rather envied Lucille's rose-colored view of things. "More often than not, I've noticed, it turns out to be true." Then he had declared taking Jake Semple in a noble and socially responsible thing to do. Noble and socially responsible! More like suicidal, E.D. thought. She had thought that even before she'd laid eyes on Jake Semple. Now she was sure of it.

Jake pulled a cigarette out of a pack in his T-shirt pocket.

"Better not light that thing," she said, thinking about lighters and matches and very large fires. "Wit's End is a smoke-free environment."

The boy reached into his pocket and pulled out a yellow plastic lighter. "You can't have a smoke-free environment outdoors," he said.

"We can have it anywhere we want -- this is our property, all sixteen acres of it."

Jake looked her square in the eye and lit the cigarette. He took a long drag and blew the smoke directly into her face so that she had to close her eyes and hold her breath to keep from choking on it. Then he said one of Paulie's favorite phrases. No one had managed to break Grandpa's adopted parrot of swearing. E.D. suspected that they wouldn't have any better luck with Jake Semple...

Surviving the Applewhites. Copyright © by Stephanie Tolan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Stephanie S. Tolan is the author of more than twenty-five books for young readers, including Listen!, which won the Christopher Award and the Henry Bergh ASPCA Award. Her New York Times bestselling novel Surviving the Applewhites received a Newbery Honor and was named a Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book for Children, a School Library Journal Best Book, an ALA Booklist Editors' Choice, an American Library Association Notable Children's Book, and an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults. Tolan lives on a little lake in a big woods in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband (Bob), two dogs (Coyote—the real dog from Listen!—and Samantha), one cat (Puck), and plenty of outdoor creatures.

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Surviving the Applewhites 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 112 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about a teeneage kid who gets in trouble a lot. So he goes and lives with this family that home schools him and he thinks they are annoying. The whole family are artists. The main characters are Jake Semple, E.D., and Destiny. Jake is the kid who gets in trouble and he goes to live with the family. He always wears black and he has piercings on his ears. E.D. is a girl the same age as Jake. She gets annoyed because Jake is bad and he doesn't do his work. Destiny is a little kid who hangs around Jake and follows him everywhere. My favorite part of the book is when the principal of the school that E.D.'s dad works at directing a play and her daughter come over for dinner at their house. They come over because the pricipal wants her daughter in the play so they have dinner and it ends up in a diseaster. This book was interesting the whole way through. I would recommend this book mostly to teens. Surviving the Applewhites. Stephanie S. Tolan. Scholastic Inc. 216 pages. The genre is fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is geart i couldnt put it down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And STOP spoling the book peoples!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Surviving the Applewhites By: Stephanie S. Tolan
In Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan, a boy named Jake Semple moves from Rhode Island to Traybridge to get home schooled by the Applewhites, because he got kicked out of every other school he had been to. After he moves in to his room he gets introduced to everything and gets started on his new life. As he sits around a young boy named Destiny Applewhite annoys him. Jake makes the comment that he has to make this life work out because they had nowhere else to send him besides a Juvenile center. E.d Applewhite dislikes Jake because she believes he¿s not going to make it work out for everyone including himself.
One of the older Applewhites is Zedediah Applewhite and he is directing ¿The Sound of Music¿ and gets very frustrated over things like being late and having to put up with everyone. As the Sound of music go¿s on the two teens E.d Applewhite and Jake Semple finally get there¿s more to life. I disliked this book because it didn¿t interest me. In this book some things were ok but I didn¿t like most of it. I like certain parts like were E.d took Jake out to capture pictures of butterfly¿s. This book may be interesting to you if you¿re a reader and you just don¿t care what you read. Surviving the Applewhites was a good thing to read as it tells us about what it¿s like for a boy going through the bad stage.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a very good book... It took a little bit to understand it because of its lack of dialog- but after it got started it was a very good book and I would recomend it to somebody who has a long time to read a book, and who can understnad books very well...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a great book!!!!!!!!I love it. Read the second!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Surviving the Applewhites, by Stephanie S. Tolan is about this devilish 13 year old named Jake Semple. He has scarlet red hair that he shapes into points every morning, dresses in complete black, has an eyebrow ring, and too many earrings to count. He is always cursing and smoking and being a bad role model for the whole family. Rumor has it that he got kicked out of every school in Rhode Island that was willing to take the risk of letting him got to school there. There is also a rumor that he burnt down his old school with a lighter and a gas can. This teenager named Jake Semple is a scarlet haired punk you got kicked out of every school in Rhode Island. Both of his parents are in jail so he is forced to go live with is relative in modern time North Carolina. After being kicked out of Traybridge School in just three weeks his relative sends him to the creative academy, the home school where you teach your self. (which doesn¿t motivate Jake) At this academy Jake meets the daughter named Ed, at first they don¿t get along but after being an experiment on how these two kids are different that start to understand each other more and more. The founder of the academy Zedidiah Applewhite, says ¿Under this horrible child must be someone good.¿ As Jake lives there and participates in finishing a butterfly experiment and saving a play he starts to change in to someone he used to know. I thought that this story meant that under anything bad there is always something good. I loved this book! I loved how they brought Jake into this book and changed his character in a creative way. I think that this can relate to people because this book teaches that you never judge a person before you get to know him. Jake Semple reminds me of my friend who used to get in trouble on a regular basis, until he went to camp and changed. I think that this can relate to people because this book teaches that you never judge a person before you get to know them. A related book I have read are Maggie Bean and
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jake Semple is a crazy 14-year-old, sporting a spikey scarlett style of hair, an eyebrow ring, and too many ear piercings to count.He's a delinquent who's been kicked out of every school in Rhode Island, and even burned down his last school! He's moved to live with his grandfather, right next door to the crazy, artsy family, the Applewhites. There, he meets E.D., who's considered the oddball, becuase she'd rather learn than practice the arts. Together, they start a friendship, and Jake starts to realize his interests, and that he's not as bad as he seems. Read Stephanie S. Tolan's newberry honor book about how Jake changes in his experience with the Applewhites. This book would be reccomended to anyone who loves books about life-changing experiences, and finding your true self.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was one of the worst, if not THE worst book I have ever read. It was soooo extremely boring and stupid. There wasn't even ONE good part to this book. I would NOT recommend reading this book. It was so lame and I would not have even gotten through the first chapter of it if I wasn't required to read it for school. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK! SAME YOURSELF THE AGONY AND BOREDOM! this book was so very mind numbing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book that shows how a delinquent troublemaker to the Applewhites Academy. All of the teachers there have great jobs. I think the message of this book is don¿t be afraid of change. The main character is Jake Semple. Some of the other characters are E.D (Edith), Archie, Zeditha, Randolph, Destiny, and Cordilea. The author uses a lot of description to make Jake look bad at first. Then at the end all of that changes. When I was reading this book it gave me a lot of questions, Like Will the sound of music be canceled? Will Destiny ever stop trying to dye his hair? Will Jake ever perform in another play? This is a must read book I am asking Stephanie S. Tolan to make a sequel to this book. If she does I will read it. If I had not joined B.O.B I would not have ever read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was so addicting! I finished it in about 3 days! I couldn't put it down! Jake Semple seems just adds a little something to the story! He is totally oppisite from the other Applewhites. But somehow, he finds himself a little something where he can be a little creative like the other Applewhites!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book isthe besst book ever! I think everyone should read this book. I give this book two thumbs up.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am reading this book for a summer reading program in school when i read the first couple of chapters i thought it was a little boring but when i got towards the end it started getting really good and now i love the book i cant wait to read the second one
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Meet jake, a troublemaker who has been kicked out of all the schools in rhode island. With his parents in jail, jake must learn to survive with the creative applewhites, or else he will be sent to juvi.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to get into soi
SpartanReading More than 1 year ago
I give "Surviving the Applewhites" by Stephanie S. Tolan 4 stars. The reason why I give it 4 stars is because some parts of the book are very creative and something different that i had never read before. Also, It comes from two characters perspectives every other chapter. I love when it comes from two peoples perspectives because it shows how different the day or problem was for them. It also shows their opinion on things and how they see the world. On the negative side, I thought other parts would be long and drag on which would bore a person and would not want them to keep reading the book. This book is about a boy named Jake who would always get expelled from schools because of his tough and hard metal image. His grandfather soon gives up on him and takes him to a home school called the "Creative Academy". The academy is run by the Applewhite family that is funny, crazy, and artistic. The only odd ball of the family is E.D, a smart girl that thinks differently and is talented in a different way, then the rest of her family. As soon as she meets Jake, she immediately dislikes him. But is Jake really mean or a troublemaker as he seems? I would recommend this book to my friend Cara because she is funny and crazy just like the Applewhite family. She would love all the crazy things they do in the house. For example, their goat Wolfie got out of its pen and ran in the middle of nowhere. In the end, E.D's sister Cordelia chased it around on the streets to put it back in its pen. Another piece of evidence is that E.D's little brother Destiny was sick of his blonde hair, so he tried different ways to change its color by putting purple Kool-Aid in his hair or coloring it with markers. I think Cara would love this book because of all the fun and crazy moments of the Applewhites, which is why i would recommend this book to her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well i had to read this book for school so I was not so happy to read this book after i just read "the hunger games" and "twilight" but it actually got better at the end. Beginning was not so good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a fun book. I want to see how hard it is ti deal with a kid like Jake.