Overview

It's December, and Robin, his friend Dan, and Sun Dance are laid low with chickenpox. To keep them amused, Robin's mother entertains them with memories of the summer when she was eleven and Nick and Charley stayed at her house. When they met Harriet, a strange, shabbily dressed girl who seemed full of surprises and magic, but remained a mystery, until Sun Dance solves the riddle with a small amber cat . . .

While recovering from chicken pox, Robin and his friends are...

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The Amber Cat

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Overview

It's December, and Robin, his friend Dan, and Sun Dance are laid low with chickenpox. To keep them amused, Robin's mother entertains them with memories of the summer when she was eleven and Nick and Charley stayed at her house. When they met Harriet, a strange, shabbily dressed girl who seemed full of surprises and magic, but remained a mystery, until Sun Dance solves the riddle with a small amber cat . . .

While recovering from chicken pox, Robin and his friends are drawn into his mother's story about the adventures she and her friends had years ago with an unusual girl who mysteriously appeared on the nearby beach.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gracefully gliding between present and past, McKay adds just the right measure of magic to this resonant follow-up to Dog Friday. As her 11-year-old son, Robin, and his best friend suffer through chicken pox, Mrs. Brogan entertains them and their constantly visiting neighbor, the enticingly eccentric Sun Dance Robinson, with memories of her 11th summer, spent in the same Yorkshire coastal home where she and Robin now reside. That summer, two brothers, the mischievous Nick and kindhearted Charley, come to stay with 11-year-old Kathy the young Mrs. Brogan and her family, and the three spend their days roaming the beach. There they encounter the mysterious Harriet, shabbily dressed but strikingly beautiful. The enchanting girl shares much with the three friendsa special cave, a pony she "borrowed," 10 gold coins she allegedly found as well as her cherished companionship. And, while curiously elusive, Harriet touches them all, deeply and lastingly. Listening to his mother's reminiscences, Robin perceptively observes that the players are "All linked together." He is right: McKay's story of childhood's timeless treasures carves a seamless circle connecting one generation to the next. Fans will cross their fingers that this fine writer books a return trip to this beguiling seaside setting. Ages 9-12. Oct.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"McKay adds just the right measure of magic to this resonant follow-up to Dog Friday," said PW in a starred review. Ages 9-12. (July) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Carol Lynch
What's the best way to pass time when suffering from the chicken pox? Robin and Dan, two energetic friends, find that a good mystery keeps their minds off the spots. Robin's mother reveals bits and pieces of an adventurous summer from her childhood, intriguing the boys with her refusal to answer all of their questions. Their neighbor, Sun Dance, also becomes infected--both with the chicken pox and the mystery. At the center of the mystery is Harriet, a girl who seemed to appear out of nowhere. She becomes a summer playmate to three children on the beach (they eventually grow up to be Robin and Dan's parents). Her small stature and unkempt appearance worry the others, yet Harriet proves to be very capable of looking out for herself. As the story plays out, questions about Harriet arise continuously. McKay artfully weaves the two stories simultaneously, requiring the reader to pay close attention to both. When Harriet makes an unexpected appearance to Sun Dance, it creates a thrilling moment that leads one to wonder if such a thing might really be possible. Character development is a strong feature of this book, and it is likely to be just as popular with boys as girls since both genders play major roles. 1999 (orig.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6--Quirky human characters and a young ghost with perseverance and personality join forces in this touching, often hilarious story that ties together past and present. Nov.
Kirkus Reviews
Revisiting some of the characters who appeared in McKay's Dog Friday (1995), this story finds Robin Brogan, his friend Dan, and neighbor Sun Dance down with the chicken pox. While Mrs. Brogan takes care of them, she begins a story from her own childhood, when she and two summer friends, Nick and Charley, met a mysterious girl, Harriet, on the beach. Nick and Harriet construct a raft in a cave as a surprise for Kathy, but Nick is swept out to sea, rescued, and put to bed. McKay has composed a ghost story of great charm, a bit of a mystery with many poignant moments, and a family story in which the well-realized characters don't need to be bound by blood ties to treat others with respect and affection. The mystery comes when Harriet, dead for 80 years, habitually "borrows" objects—which she always returns—from the past and present; she also returns to Sun Dance the amber cat that Charley gave her so long ago. The seaside setting is as enchanting as the collection of children, and the British humor that peppers this novel only provides more cheeky appeal.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781444906127
  • Publisher: Hachette Children
  • Publication date: 9/1/2011
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • File size: 851 KB

Meet the Author

Hilary McKay won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize with her first novel, The Exiles. Her subsequent work has achieved recognition: The Exiles at Home won the Smarties Prize, whilst Saffy's Angel, the first in the Casson Family series, won the Whitbread Award, for which the third book, Permanent Rose, was also shortlisted.
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