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Turnabout Shop
     

Turnabout Shop

by Colby F. Rodowsky
 

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After her free-spirited mother dies, Livvy is uprooted from her New York home and sent to Baltimore to live with her mother's old college friend, a woman Livvy has never heard of. Jessie is nothing like Livvy's mother: She's sensible, likes to weave, and doesn't even have pierced ears. What she does have is The Turnabout Shop, where she and her mother sell

Overview

After her free-spirited mother dies, Livvy is uprooted from her New York home and sent to Baltimore to live with her mother's old college friend, a woman Livvy has never heard of. Jessie is nothing like Livvy's mother: She's sensible, likes to weave, and doesn't even have pierced ears. What she does have is The Turnabout Shop, where she and her mother sell antiques, and a family larger than any Livvy has ever known. She also has a bunch of warm, quirky neighbors, including a girl Livvy's age. Set down to live among strangers, Livvy begins again from scratch, discovering that even without her mother, she can still learn and laugh and love, and take root in a whole different world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The author of Remembering Mog offers another sensitive rendering of loss, this time focusing on how fifth-grader Livvy begins a new life after her mother's death. Through a series of imaginary notes to her mother ("I decided I would write it out to Altheanot on paper, though, but only in my head"), Livvy states her impressions of her new guardian, all-too-sensible Jessie Barnes ("You could have told me she was a moth instead of a butterfly"); her new Baltimore neighborhood; and Jessie's "old and dusty" antique store called the Turnabout Shop. Despite the heroine's complaints about Jessie and homesickness for New York, readers will know, almost immediately, that Livvy has been placed in good hands and will come to cherish Jessie as much as her mother did. Less complex and psychologically tense than the author's previous novel, this nonetheless poignant, quiet story offers a reassuring view of coming to terms with grief and unwelcome change. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 4-6A touching story about the acceptance of loss and change. Livvy's world is shattered when her free-spirited mother dies and leaves instructions for the child to be sent to live with a college friend of whom she has never spoken. In poignant and sometimes funny monologues directed at her mother, Livvy reveals her feelings about having to adjust to a very different life. Her guardian, Jessie Barnes, is a serious, sensible woman who owns an antique shop and seems never to have had a fun-loving moment. In addition, she has a large extended family. Livvy, whose previous life consisted of just her and her mother, feels surrounded by strangers and is sure that she'll never fit in. Soon, though, things get a bit better. She finds a good friend in her new fifth-grade class and gets to know some of her neighbors. Even the new relatives have some good points. The hardest thing for Livvy is getting along with Jessie. Over time, though, they come to some understandings and develop a realistically hopeful relationship. Livvy finally realizes that although no one can ever replace her mother, she can still have a happy life and a true sense of belonging. The characters are all well developed and the situations are entirely believable. What stands out most here, though, is Livvy's voice. Its blend of humor and heartbreak makes this a very real and unforgettable novel. Youngsters in similar situations will have a particular empathy with Livvy, but all readers will enjoy this heartwarming story.Arwen Marshall, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Orphaned and grieving, Livvy is dismayed when her dying mother Althea's wish leaves her in the care of a woman she's never heard of. Who is this Jessie Barnes? An old college roommate, Livvy learns—a moth next to the vivid butterfly that was Althea—and a quiet, sensible woman who runs an antiques shop with her own mother, Ivy. Livvy also learns that Jessie hasn't known about Althea's wish much longer than she has. Rodowsky (Hannah in Between, 1994, etc.) gives Livvy plenty of support adapting to her new home, new town, and new fifth grade: Lu, a decidedly un-shy classmate; Charlie Farley, a neighbor with a gift for offhanded pearls of wisdom; and patient, low-key Jessie Barnes, who seems almost colorless next to her loving, boisterous parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews. Although Livvy occasionally bursts out in what Althea always called "wanton words," her grief and anger are relatively restrained, and in time she grasps just how hard it was for risk-shy Jessie to accept her new responsibilities. By the end, the two have found ways to reach one another, and when the shop burns down, it's Livvy's turn to help Jessie through a loss. The author never pontificates, readers will take to the immensely likable cast, and Jessie's and Althea's characters burst forth from Livvy's narration as vividly as her own. (Fiction. 9-11)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380731923
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/01/1900
Pages:
144
Product dimensions:
5.13(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.41(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Do you remember that, Althea? Do you remember? It was the day I came home from school and Fred was there, which wasn't all that odd in itself I mean, through the years I'd gotten used to Fred, because of him being the one who managed your parents' trust fund and got to say, when times were tough, whether you could have more money or not. Because of him being the one who hired the nurses when you got sick.

What was odd that particular day was that Fred was there and you were gone. And so were the nurses in the white polyester pantsuits, who all looked alike and walked on cushiony feet and said, "Let your mother rest' and "Stay off the bed," even when you patted the place beside you and said, "Hop up here, Mousekin."

"Where's Althea?" I said, Coming in the door and dropping my backpack.

"Your mother is in the hospital, Livvy. She took a turn for the worse this morning and the doctor thought it would be a good idea. We've got some interim arrangements set up--you'll be staying with Joannie and Pete Bullington until this crisis has passed."

And the weird thing was that the whole time he was talking, I could almost see you standing behind him, puffing out your cheeks and talking in your Fred voice, the way you did sometimes when we were alone.

"When will she be home?" I asked. "How soon?"

"I don't know," he said, making his hands into a steeple and staring down into it. "Very soon, I hope. But it depends, of course. It depends." He cleared his throat and pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket, as if he had to remind himself what to say next. "Now, if you'll just get some clothes together, and yourschoolbooks, too, I'll take you to the hospital to see your mother on our way to the Bullingtons'."

I'd never been to a hospital before, and deep down I thought it'd be like it was in Madeline--you know, that book we read about a million times when I was little--and that you'd be standing, on the bed showing off a scar and surrounded by a roomful of toys. And that there'd be a crack on the ceiling in the shape of a rabbit. It wasn't like that, though. If anything, you looked worse than you had at home and held tight to my hand and kissed my fingers one at a time with lips that were dry and cool. Remember, Althea? That's when you said it. When you caught me by the arm and were suddenly stronger than I thought it was possible for you to be and you said, "No matter what happens, you're a survivor, Ann Olivia Lyons. And don't you forget it."

The next day at school, when I stopped to sharpen my pencil, I heard Ms. Strapensky talking to the librarian in a whispery voice and nodding in my direction and saying, "The situation is positively Dickensian."

After supper, when I was helping Joannie give the twins a bath, I asked her what "Dickensian" meant, and she said, "Oh, you know, Livvy. It has to do with the writer Dickens, and it's usually something sad and sentimental and filled with orphans."

That night it happened. I heard the phone ring very late and I knew. Even before Joannie came in and held me tight and told me, I knew.

There's something I need to understand, Althea. I mean, where are you? Now. Oh, I know all about the burial next to your parents someplace outside the city, up on a hill, and how you told Fred beforehand not to let me go. And how I went off instead to Gretchen's loft with a bunch of your friends for what they called a Celebration of Althea's Life. You'd've liked it, because what it was was a party, with everybody sitting around on the floor talking about you: about how much fun you'd always been and how you loved the carousel in Central Park and riding the Staten Island ferry and smooshing your face up against the fish tank in the pet shop on Third Avenue.

They talked about how you wanted to be a writer and worked in a bunch of bookstores around town and went to readings in coffeehouses and sometimes took writing courses that you didn't always finish. And how you were finally making progress on a novel when you got sick.

"But Livvy was her magnum opus," someone said.

"I was?" I said, not at all sure what a magnum opus was.

"Her greatest work. You were Altheis greatest work," Joannie said.

And then everybody looked at me as if I were a trained seal and they were waiting for me to perform.

"Hear! Hear!" said Pete, holding up his glass.

"Hear! Hear!" they all said together.

I scrunched back against the wall and tried to turn invisible. I looked up at a shiny giant bagel suspended from the ceiling and hoped that it wasn't Gretchen's magnum opus.

After a while, they all started talking about openings and galleries and readings. They seemed to have forgotten about you, and me too, so I went off to Gretchen's bathroom and sat on the floor and cried and wiped my eyes on the edge of the shower curtain and stayed there till Joannie knocked on the door and said it was time to go.

That's why I really need to know where you are now. The youness of you. Are you watching me from around every corner? Or maybe a star?

Are you a star, Althea?

Another thing I need to know is just who is Jessie Barnes? I mean, there I was on the train with Fred the lawyer on my way to Baltimore to live with Jessie Barnes, and I didn't even know who she was.

Meet the Author

Colby Rodowsky is the author of Remembering Mog, and ALA Notable Book, Hannah In-Between, an ALA Best Book, and many other highly regarded books for young readers. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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