T-backs, T-shirts, Coat, and Suit

T-backs, T-shirts, Coat, and Suit

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by E. L. Konigsburg
     
 

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Going to Peco, Florida, for the summer to stay with Bernadette is not Chloe's first choice. Or her second or her third. It's her only choice. She has to leave town because of the hair contract. If she didn't sign it, her friends would shun her; if she did sign it, anytime any one of them had a bad hair day it would mean total immersion in the local pool for all of… See more details below

Overview

Going to Peco, Florida, for the summer to stay with Bernadette is not Chloe's first choice. Or her second or her third. It's her only choice. She has to leave town because of the hair contract. If she didn't sign it, her friends would shun her; if she did sign it, anytime any one of them had a bad hair day it would mean total immersion in the local pool for all of them, Chloe included. Chloe not only hates total immersion, she fears it.

So it's off to Bernadette's for the summer. "Help Bernadette," Nick, Chloe's stepfather, says. Bernadette is his sister. "And give the unexpected a chance." Just what that means Chloe discovers right away. Everything about Bernadette is unexpected: her dog; her job driving a commissary van that serves sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, and junk food to shipyard and dock workers; her way of teaching Chloe to swim; her ability to skate on Rollerblades; her adventures in the commune where she and Nick had lived for a year; and especially the fact that the unexpected is never unexpected to her, not even the events that follow when some commissary drivers begin wearing T-back swimsuits to work (a way of increasing business) and other groups in Peco decide T-backs should be banned forever.

Bernadette, who will not wear T-backs but will not oppose them either, is caught in the middle. And no matter what Chloe does, the results are unexpected. Unexpected, it seems, is all you can really count on, unless, like Bernadette, you know enough about the past to have an idea of what the future might bring. And even then, well, maybe Bernadette doesn't always know everything.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Newbery Medal winner Konigsburg introduces another of her typically saturnine heroines in this tart, smart novel. Suburban New Jerseyite Chloe is spending the summer in Florida with her aunt Bernadette. A one-time commune dweller, Bernadette is like nothing from Chloe's universe: she drives a commissary van and sells junk food at roadsides, she expertly teaches Chloe to swim but will not go in the water herself, and she puts wild mushrooms and flowers in her salads. Chloe overcomes her own taste for the ironic to develop an unvarnished affection for Bernadette, who likewise softens, relaxing her strict guard on her own privacy. Konigsburg gives this movingly developed friendship extra weight by centering her tale on timely, thoughtful plot lines: Two shapely new commissary drivers start wearing ``T-backs''--G-string-like bathing suits--denting Bernadette's sales and causing an outcry from local conservatives. Bernadette will not don a T-back, nor will she oppose the costume on moral grounds, despite pressure from a fundamentalist group. In a twist that will especially interest admirers of Konigsburg's Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth . . . , Chloe decides to punish the smug son of one of the T-back wearers by convincing him that Bernadette is a witch--only to discover, too late, that the son is aligned with the fundamentalists. The issues are as complicated as the characters; teenagers as well as the target audience will enjoy this book. Ages 9-12. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Mary Clayton Rowen
A lovely story without words about a kitten's first year of life following its election by a little girl and her father at the animal shelter. The endearing crayon pictures have the perfect amount of detail for the readers own interpretation of the story. All the joys and mishaps of owning a kitten are depicted and commence with Tabby's first birthday party. A perfect start for a child's creation of their own text. l995, HarperCollins, Ages 2 to 5, $13.95 and $13.89. Reviewer: Meredith E. Kiger
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-It's summer, and Chlo, 12, is about to sign a compact with her best friends that if one girl has a ``bad hair day,'' all three must jump in the water. If she refuses, they'll shun her; if she signs, she faces the possibility of immersion in the local pool-a much-feared consequence, since she cannot swim. Her stepfather comes to the rescue, sending her to Florida to visit his sister, and advising her to ``give the unexpected a chance.'' Chlo begins to develop real affection for and understanding of the woman, a former flower-child activist. When a heated debate ensues over the decency of wearing revealing bathing suits to work, Bernadette is caught between COAT (Citizens Opposing All T-Backs) and the pressure of her co-workers for ``solidarity.'' With the help of her lawyer-friend, she stands up for her own beliefs, teaching Chlo an invaluable lesson and opening up her own closed-off life to the possibility of loving another person. Konigsburg has developed unusual characters who reveal their innermost secrets as the story unfolds. Despite the initially trivial premise, the plot is carefully constructed and the humorous dialogue will engage readers. While it offers a lighter look at self-discovery than that found in the author's Throwing Shadows (Macmillan, 1988), T-Backs could serve as a possible discussion-starter on the importance of commitment and personal values.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, Wheeler School, Providence, RI

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442429253
Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
01/25/2011
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
176
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 13 Years

Read an Excerpt

T-Backs, T-Shirts, Coat and Suit


By E. L. Konigsburg Aladdin Publishing Company

Copyright © 2003 E. L. Konigsburg
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780689856822


The airline attendant stood at the mouth of the plane and said good-bye to every single other passenger before she came back for Chloe. Chloe got hot and sweaty. She could feel her hair starting to frizz. She certainly wasn't going to make a good impression on Bernadette feeling hot and looking frizzy. She unzipped her vest pocket to make sure that her money was still there. The fifty-dollar bill was no longer crisp. It actually felt hot. She could not remember ever having paper money feel hot before. Her first conclusion about spending a summer in Florida was: No more vests -- dressing in layers was out. The second was: If Bernadette did not have air-conditioning, she might have to use the fifty dollars to make other arrangements. A hotel room was not above her means.

At last the stewardess came for her. As she emerged from the jetway, she saw Bernadette standing with the people remaining. Nick had shown her some recent pictures of his sister to refresh her memory but what she remembered of her -- that she was a tall person -- would have been enough. Bernadette stood above the crowd.

Bernadette was a full six feet tall, as skinny as a silhouette, pale as a glass of buttermilk, and so nearsighted that her eyeglasses could be sent into orbit to do the job of the Hubble space telescope. She wore a long, full, printedskirt with a drawstring waist, sandals, and a dark T-shirt that didn't have anything printed on it. She had a head of unruly silver-and-black curly hair that grew in several directions, only one of which was down. It looked as if you could stuff a mattress -- king-size -- with it. Chloe wondered if this woman ever had a good hair day.

The airline attendant would not give Bernadette custody until she showed a picture ID. Bernadette took out her driver's license. As the stewardess looked at the picture, Chloe looked at the numbers -- the last two were the year of her birth. Bernadette was forty-five. Chloe thought, No wonder she has so much gray in her hair.

They greeted each other with smiles but did not hug or kiss. They did not even kiss the air over each others shoulders as grown-ups often do.

As they walked toward baggage pickup, Bernadette said, "I'll call you Chloe." Chloe found that a strange thing for an almost-relative to say. Chloe was, after all, her name. When her name was to be written, Chloe insisted that the two dots be placed over the e. She loved having two dots over the e of her name and told everyone that they were called a cliaeresis and meant that both the o and the e were to be sounded. Even before she started first grade she would not allow anyone to skip her diaeresis. Everyone called her Chloe. No one shortened it to Chlo. Why would this woman think of calling her anything but Chloe?

It would be no use telling this person, who was stuck with the same last name, that it was Pollack that she was considering dropping as soon as she came of age or got married -- whichever came first. There was always the possibility of hyphenating her last name with her husband's, but she already had two last names.

Nick had adopted Chloe when she was five, a year after he married her mother. When they drew up the adoption papers, they tucked her birth father's last name between her new last name and her two given names, and she became Chloe June Parker Pollack. If she used all four of her names, she would run out of spaces on credit-card applications, so except for contracts and report cards, she was simply called Chloe Pollack.

As they walked farther along the concourse, Bernadette said, "You call me Bernadette. Aunt won't be necessary. And I don't like Bernie. Or Aunt Bernie or Auntie. For a while, when I was twelve, I wanted everyone to call me Detta. No reason except that I was twelve and trying to fit whatever name seemed more glamorous than Bernadette. I like to be called Bernadette. I've become my name."

"All right," Chloe said, feeling very much the grownup in this conversation. "Chloe and Bernadette. That's what it will be for our time remaining." Time remaining, sounded like a grown-up thing to say. She thought she was beginning to understand why Nick had asked her to help this person.







Continues...


Excerpted from T-Backs, T-Shirts, Coat and Suit by E. L. Konigsburg Copyright © 2003 by E. L. Konigsburg. 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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