The Book of Story Beginnings

The Book of Story Beginnings

4.7 9
by Kristin Kladstrup
     
 

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Kristin Kladstrup's wonderfully transporting fantasy - featuring a ship full of orphaned pirate children, a pair of warring royals, and plenty of magic potions - is sure to thrill all those who dare turn its pages.

Oscar Martin was fourteen when he mysteriously disappeared from his Iowa farmhouse home in June 1914. His sister claimed Oscar had rowed out to

Overview

Kristin Kladstrup's wonderfully transporting fantasy - featuring a ship full of orphaned pirate children, a pair of warring royals, and plenty of magic potions - is sure to thrill all those who dare turn its pages.

Oscar Martin was fourteen when he mysteriously disappeared from his Iowa farmhouse home in June 1914. His sister claimed Oscar had rowed out to sea - but how was that possible? There is no ocean in Iowa. When, nearly a century later, Lucy Martin and her parents move from their city apartment to that same farmhouse in Iowa, it is not long before Lucy discovers the strange and dangerous BOOK OF STORY BEGININGS. And it's not long before Oscar reappears in a bizarre turn of events that sends the two distant relatives on a perilous journey to save Lucy's father.

This remarkable debut fantasy novel is a thrilling page turner as well as a tribute to the writer's craft.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
JUNE 1914

He was up late reading TREASURE ISLAND Island for the hundredth time when the story idea came to him. Like all of his ideas, it was only the beginning of a story. But a beginning was better than nothing at all, so he climbed out of bed—quietly, because the rest of his family was asleep and he didn’t want to wake them.

TREASURE ISLAND was a book he had read so often that he hardly needed to look at the well-worn copy that Pa and Ma had given him for Christmas two years before. He needed only to open it and dream of adventure. That was how the story beginning had come to him, like a dream—the words falling into place like notes of music from Ma’s fiddle. He held them in his mind carefully, not wanting to forget them before he had time to write them down.

He sat at his old worn desk—there were ink stains all over it—and drew out a secret book from the bottom of a drawer filled with papers. It wasn’t the five-cent composition book in which he kept his journal. That was where he wrote down his thoughts and observations on everything that mattered and didn’t matter. The secret book was one he had found in the attic among Ma’s things—secret things maybe, for the trunk had been locked, and perhaps he oughtn’t to have used the key he’d found in Ma’s room.

As he had done many times since finding the book, he looked at the words on its title page: THE BOOK OF STORY BEGINNINGS. There was a verse beneath the title. It made him shiver a bit because it was so wonderful. Almost like a story beginning itself:

Beware, you writers who write within;
Be mindful of stories that you begin;
For every story that has a beginning
May have a middle and an end.

Know this, too, before you write:
Though day must always lead to night,
Not all beginnings make good tales;
Some succeed, while others fail.

Let this book its judgment lend
On whether and how your beginning ends.

_______

THE BOOK OF STORY BEGINNINGS by Kristin Kladstrup. Copyright © 2006 by Kristin Kladstrup. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

Publishers Weekly
A cryptic message in a dream draws a girl into a century-old mystery in Kladstrup's debut novel. As the story opens, Lucy Martin's great-aunt has just passed away, leaving her home in Iowa to the girl's family (the timing couldn't be better, as Lucy's father has just been denied tenure). In a letter written before she died, Aunt Lavonne mentions a mysterious book she has discovered, Oscar, her older brother who went missing in 1914, and a dream in which Oscar tells Lavonne, "Lucy will explain!" In their new home, Lucy discovers the titular book, in which a young Oscar had written the openings for several stories he did not finish. One of those stories tells of a boy whose farmhouse is suddenly surrounded by a "great black sea"just like the one Lavonne remembers appearing the night Oscar vanishedand shortly thereafter Lucy meets Oscar in the attic, still a boy, with no idea where he has been all these years. It turns out that anything written in the book becomes realwhich Lucy discovers too late, after her father suffers the consequences. The narrative becomes a bit convoluted here, teeming with transformation potions, talismans and books of alchemy, but it makes for whimsical escapism. Plot trumps character development; as a result Lucy never quite comes into focus. Readers may be reminded of Michael Ende's The Neverending Story, which shares some similar themes and ideas. Ages 10-13. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Kristin Kladstrup's first novel is a gentle fantasy set in Iowa--and beyond. Twelve-year-old Lucy Martin is dismayed at having to move from the big city back to her father's family home. Once there she is further dismayed by her parents' bickering. What distracts her is finding the journals of her long-lost great uncle Oscar, missing since 1914. When Oscar turns up in the flesh, still fourteen, the two fling themselves into solving the mystery of his disappearance and return through Oscar's odd story notebook, which seems to create real adventures from mere beginnings. Secret seas, orphan-run sailing ships, an island filled with warring cats and birds (and their bickering royal masters) all become both clues and possible solutions. Will the children save Lucy's father, who has also disappeared, in time? Will they save themselves from the world they have unwittingly created? Kladstrup's writing has a Midwestern feel to it. She stretches it out as if she has endless space and time. It should be a good summer vacation read. 2006, Candlewick, Ages 8 to 12.
—Kathleen Karr
KLIATT - Dr. Lesley Farmer
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, March 2006: In 1914 Oscar wrote about sailing away over the sea. Although he was sitting in an Iowan farmhouse, Oscar suddenly saw the field grow dark and watery—and a small rowboat floated towards him. Oscar, who longed for adventure, rowed away, never to be seen again. Lucy does not want adventure, but when her chemistry professor father is denied tenure, her family moves to their ancestral farm in the Midwest. While her mother and father argue, Lucy finds her late cousin Oscar's journal. A stray cat follows Lucy, and catches a bird, a bird that is really Lucy's father, who has discovered the power of magic. The cat, too, is transformed—into Oscar. Now Lucy is forced into adventure as she and Oscar regenerate the sea so they can find her flown father and rejoin the families. This tale weaves storytelling and story plot while traveling across time. Family dynamics are cleverly transformed and addressed in this fanciful cautionary tale. "Be careful what you wish for..." Reviewer: Dr. Lesley Farmer
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-When Lucy Martin moves to the house in Iowa that her father inherited from his Aunt Lavonne, she hopes to solve the mystery of Lavonne's brother's disappearance in 1914, when he was 14. He supposedly rowed off in a boat on a magical ocean that lapped at the garden gate. When Lucy finds the Book of Story Beginnings and writes in it about a girl whose father was a magician, her father becomes a magician who has invented a transforming potion. He turns into a crow and flies away from the cat, who then becomes Oscar, the long-lost boy. Lucy and Oscar then have to find a way over the magical ocean to bring back Lucy's father, who has flown to the land invented by Oscar when he wrote his story beginnings in the magical book. The characters are well rounded and interesting, and Oscar's plight when he is transformed back into a boy and discovers that his entire family is dead is sympathetically and realistically portrayed. While sections of the story at the beginning and end are exciting and even thrilling, the middle section moves slowly and the adventure drags in places. Still, this is an interesting investigation into the power of writing and story, along with a warm and believable look at the relationship of two young people from different eras who become family to one another.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Magic connects three generations of the Iowan Martin family in this densely plotted fantasy. The titular book is a journal that transforms the beginnings of penned stories into real-or real-seeming-progressions. In 1914, Oscar, an aspiring writer at 14, discovers the book and begins a tale that precipitates his own disappearance, rowing across an incongruous sea. Present-day Lucy, moved with her parents into the family home, finds the boy's journals and the Book. Unable to resist starting a story of her own, she casts her father, already beguiled by alchemy, as a magician. Dad dabbles dangerously and creates a transforming potion, turning himself into a bird that flies away. Oscar, himself transformed from his own imagined tale into Lucy's world, joins Lucy in using the Book to rescue her father. Third-person narration shifts from Lucy's speculations to Oscar's and back, and the pair-rather thinly characterized-engage nonetheless in protracted stretches of dialogue. There are further dis- and re-appearances, a squabbling royal couple, changeling cats, a ship's crew of orphans and too much more, really. The resolution spans the storied world and Lucy's own; committed fantasy fans might enjoy the metaphysical journey. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763626099
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
03/14/2006
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 8.75(h) x 1.25(d)
Lexile:
720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

Read an Excerpt

JUNE 1914

He was up late reading TREASURE ISLAND Island for the hundredth time when the story idea came to him. Like all of his ideas, it was only the beginning of a story. But a beginning was better than nothing at all, so he climbed out of bed—quietly, because the rest of his family was asleep and he didn't want to wake them.

TREASURE ISLAND was a book he had read so often that he hardly needed to look at the well-worn copy that Pa and Ma had given him for Christmas two years before. He needed only to open it and dream of adventure. That was how the story beginning had come to him, like a dream—the words falling into place like notes of music from Ma's fiddle. He held them in his mind carefully, not wanting to forget them before he had time to write them down.

He sat at his old worn desk—there were ink stains all over it—and drew out a secret book from the bottom of a drawer filled with papers. It wasn't the five-cent composition book in which he kept his journal. That was where he wrote down his thoughts and observations on everything that mattered and didn't matter. The secret book was one he had found in the attic among Ma's things—secret things maybe, for the trunk had been locked, and perhaps he oughtn't to have used the key he'd found in Ma's room.

As he had done many times since finding the book, he looked at the words on its title page: THE BOOK OF STORY BEGINNINGS. There was a verse beneath the title. It made him shiver a bit because it was so wonderful. Almost like a story beginning itself:

Beware, you writers who write within;
Be mindful of stories that you begin;
For every story that has a beginning
May have a middle and an end.

Know this, too, before you write:
Though day must always lead to night,
Not all beginnings make good tales;
Some succeed, while others fail.

Let this book its judgment lend
On whether and how your beginning ends.

_______

THE BOOK OF STORY BEGINNINGS by Kristin Kladstrup. Copyright © 2006 by Kristin Kladstrup. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

Meet the Author

KRISTIN KLADSTRUP says, "I have always loved the big brick house in Iowa where my mother grew up. From its windows, you can look out and see beautiful fields and pastures. But when I was young, I was always ignoring what was in front of me and wishing for something more exciting. From those same windows, I could imagine the ocean stretching out to the Iowa horizon. If I'd had the chance, I might have written a story beginning about it, just as Oscar does. But I was also much more inclined to pretend things than to write them down. Now that I'm grown up, things are backward: I can't pretend much of anything without writing it down. That's why there's now a pretend brick house in Iowa to go along with the real one!" Kristin Kladstrup lives with her family near Boston, Massachusetts. This is her first novel.

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The Book of Story Beginnings 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awsome
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever and so interesting and mysterious ! (;
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was pretty good. I think my problem was I was expecting something totally different. Its still a good book and very different from anything I've ever read. Even so it was just okay.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Oscar and Lucy are two lovable characters. They work together to try to set things right after they wrote in the Book of Story Beginnings. Their creative and logical solutions inspire you to think of better ways to solve your own problems.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am reading THE BOOK OF STORY BEGINNINGS to my fourth grade class. At this time we are about three quarters through the novel. My students eagerly await each daily installment. I measure the success of each book I read to them by the groans of disappointment I hear when I end each reading. Ms. Kladstrup's book consistently rates a 9 out of 10 on my 'groan scale'. This rates her right up with Gary Paulson and Kate Di Camillo. Several students have purchased the book so they don't have to wait for me to continue the story. My students are aware that Lucy and Oscar are living the middle and end of the story Lucy began. Many of them are attempting to bring some of the detail and excitement to the middle and end of their own work, generally a difficulty fourth graders experience. This book is a strong read-aloud for the fourth grade classroom. It provides wonderful opportunities for prediction, wondering, and vocabulary developement. I have been able to tie elements of the novel into science and social studies as well as our writing curriculum. As a veteran fourth grade teacher, I heartily recommend this book as a read-aloud to intermediate level teachers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. The imagination and detail make it fun to read. The adventures of Oscar and Lucy are a bit nailbiting at times but worth the suspense. Can't wait for the sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Srry gtg bbt
Anonymous More than 1 year ago