Tom, Babette, and Simon: Three Tales of Transformation

Overview

TOM
Tom is bored all the time. When hes given a homework assignment to write The Most Exciting Thing That Ever Happened to Me, Tom realizes that not one exciting thing has happened to him in his entire life. Then Tom makes a deal to trade places with a cat named Charley, and something very exciting happens. But Tom may never have the chance to write about his outrageous adventure. . .

BABETTE
Babettes mother, ...

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Overview

TOM
Tom is bored all the time. When hes given a homework assignment to write The Most Exciting Thing That Ever Happened to Me, Tom realizes that not one exciting thing has happened to him in his entire life. Then Tom makes a deal to trade places with a cat named Charley, and something very exciting happens. But Tom may never have the chance to write about his outrageous adventure. . .

BABETTE
Babettes mother, the queen, wishes for a perfect baby daughter, and her wish is granted. No one can see a single flaw in the childs appearance. In fact, no one can see Babette at all. But when Babette finds out that shes invisible, how ill she see herself?

SIMON
Simon is an only child whose doting parents grant his every wish—until Simons demands grow so big his parents have nothing left to give him. So Simon leaves home, determined to make his own greatest wish come true. He wants the whole world to admire him, and after a startling meeting with a magical bird, he has all the attention he dreamed of. . .but now he only wishes to be free of it once again.

Three original stories in which a boy and a cat change places, a young man learns the price of selfishness, and an invisible princess finds herself.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Familiar archetypes combine with unexpected plot twists (e.g., a boy trades places with his cat, a fortune hunter regrets his granted wish) in these offbeat fairy tales. In a starred review, PW called them "sharply ironic and full of wit." Ages 8-12. (Aug.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380727704
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/1/1997
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 112
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.09 (w) x 7.49 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Avi
Avi
Known for his unconventional vision and quirky creative style, Avi has penned scores of children's books that young readers devour with a passion. Twice awarded the Newbery Honor medal for his work, this prolific Pied Piper won the 2003 Newbery Medal for Crispin: The Cross of Lead -- an action-packed adventure set in 14th-century England.

Biography

Born in Manhattan in 1937, Avi Wortis grew up in Brooklyn in a family of artists and writers. Despite his bright and inquisitive nature, he did poorly in school. After several academic failures, he was diagnosed with a writing impairment called dysgraphia which caused him to reverse letters and misspell words. The few writing and spelling skills he possessed he had gleaned from his favorite hobby, reading -- a pursuit enthusiastically encouraged in his household.

Following junior high school, Avi was assigned to a wonderful tutor whose taught him basic skills and encouraged in him a real desire to write. "Perhaps it was stubbornness," he recalled in an essay appearing on the Educational Paperback Association's website, "but from that time forward I wanted to write in some way, some form. It was the one thing everybody said I could not do."

Avi finally learned to write, and well! He attended Antioch University, graduated from the University of Wisconsin, and received a master's degree in library science from Columbia in 1964. He worked as a librarian for the New York Public Library's theater collection and for Trenton State College, and taught college courses in children's literature, while continuing to write -- mostly plays -- on the side. In the 1970s, with two sons of his own, he began to craft stories for children. "[My] two boys loved to hear stories," he recalled. "We played a game in which they would give me a subject ('a glass of water') and I would have to make up the story right then. Out of that game came my first children's book, Things That Sometimes Happen." A collection of "Very Short Stories for Little Listeners," Avi's winning debut received very positive reviews. "Sounding very much like the stories that children would make up themselves," raved Kirkus Reviews, "these are daffy and nonsensical, starting and ending in odd places and going sort of nowhere in the middle. The result, however, is inevitably a sly grin."

Avi has gone on to write dozens of books for kids of all ages. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (1991) and Nothing but the Truth (1992) were named Newbery Honor Books, and in 2003, he won the prestigious Newbery Medal for his 14th-century adventure tale, Crispin: The Cross of Lead. His books range from mysteries and adventure stories to historical novels and coming-of-age tales; and although there is often a strong moral core to his work, he leavens his message with appealing warmth and humor. Perhaps his philosophy is summed up best in this quote from his author profile on Scholastic's website: "I want my readers to feel, to think, sometimes to laugh. But most of all I want them to enjoy a good read."

Good To Know

In a Q&A with his publisher, Avi named Robert Louis Stevenson as one of his greatest inspirations, noting that "he epitomizes a kind of storytelling that I dearly love and still read because it is true, it has validity, and beyond all, it is an adventure."

When he's not writing, Avi enjoys photography as one of his favorite hobbies.

Avi got his unique nickname from his twin sister, Emily..

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    1. Also Known As:
      Avi Wortis (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 23, 1937
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Tom

At the age of twelve Thomas Osborn Pitz -- better known as Tom -- had few interests, little desire, and almost no energy. This was so despite a family --mother, father, older brother, and sister -- who loved him. As for school, his teachers treated him fairly, he did the things he was supposed to do, and he received passable grades. But if you were to ask Tom what the future held for him, he would have replied that, other than getting older, he expected no change. In short, Thomas Osborn Pitz -- better known as Tom -- found life boring.

One day when Tom was doing what he did most often, that is, sitting on the front steps of his city house doing nothing, a shorthaired, black-and-white cat with gray eyes approached and sat down before him. For a while the two -- boy and cat -- stared at one another.

It was the cat who spoke first. "What's happening?" he asked.

"Not much,"' Tom replied.

"Doing anything?" the cat asked. "Nope."

"Just hanging out?" "l guess."

"That something you do often?" "'Yeah."

"How come?" the cat inquired. "I'm bored." The cat considered this remark carefully and then said, "You look like my kind of friend. How about adopting me?" "Why should I?" "Got anything better to do?" "Nope."

"Well, then?"

Tom asked, "What's your name?"

To which the, cat replied, "Charley."

So it was that Tom took Charley in. Moreover the cat became part of the household. So familiar did he become that when Tom went to sleep, Charley slept rightnext to Tom's head on an extra pillow. Indeed fromthat time on that was how the two -- boy and cat -- spent their nights.

"Hey, man," Tom said to Charley one afternoon two months after the cat had moved in. "You get to sleep all day, but I have to go to school." In disgust he flung his schoolbooks onto his bed.

It was the statement more than the thump of books that woke Charley from a sound nap. He studied Tom, then stretched his back. "I am a cat," he said. "You are a boy. Some would say you had it better."

Tom sighed. "If you had to go to school every day like I do, you wouldn't believe that.""Don't you like school?" Charley asked with a look and tone of sympathy.

"Oh, I like it all right," Tom replied. "The kids are okay. The teachers are all right. Once in a while it even gets almost interesting. But mostly it's just boring. Actually, I'd rather do nothing. Like you."

"What about life beyond school?"

"Bor-ing," Tom insisted.

"Doesn't anything interest you?"

Tom considered the question. "Television," he said at last. "At least on TV there's something happening. It's my life that's dull."

With great care, Charley said, "A cat's life--or mine anyway--can be a bit dull, too."

"Your life isn't supposed to be anything but dull," Tom said with envy. "But people are always telling me that I should get up and do something. Boy, wish I had permission to sleep all day the way you do."

To which Charley said, "How about if you became me, a cat, and I became you, a boy?"

"Not possible," Tom said with a wistful shrug.

"Oh, I don't know," Charley said. "Most people wouldn't believe that you and I could hold a conversation, but here we are doing exactly that."

"To tell you the truth," Tom said, "it's not that interesting a conversation."

"Whatever you say," Charley replied as he curled himself into a ball, closed his eyes, and went back to sleep. Tom, feeling envious, did the next best thing. He went and watched television.

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