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It seemed to ten-year-old Wedge that most of the time nothing made sense anymore. Suddenly he had a brand-new stepfather and a five-year-old stepbrother, Andrew. He lived in a new house, far from his friends, and his bedroom window looked out on a seven-foot castle that marked the eighteenth hole of the miniature golf course his stepfather owned. He hated it.

Wedge does not easily let go of his anger, but the moment does come when things again begin to make sense. Kevin Henkes ...

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Overview

It seemed to ten-year-old Wedge that most of the time nothing made sense anymore. Suddenly he had a brand-new stepfather and a five-year-old stepbrother, Andrew. He lived in a new house, far from his friends, and his bedroom window looked out on a seven-foot castle that marked the eighteenth hole of the miniature golf course his stepfather owned. He hated it.

Wedge does not easily let go of his anger, but the moment does come when things again begin to make sense. Kevin Henkes tells the story of Wedge's journey to understanding and acceptance with humor and sympathy.

When his mother's new marriage takes them into the household of a miniature golf course owner, ten-year-old Wedge struggles with feelings of resentment and dislike for his stepfather.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wedge is a slightly overweight boy, age 10, who stows away presents in a box that he hopes to give someday to his father. His mother Sally says she doesn't even know who his father is, and she expects Wedge to adapt to his new stepfather, King, and King's son Andrew. Wedge's window overlooks King's miniature golf course, where a castle marks the 18th hole. The boy doesn't like anything about his new life and being part of a family; he finds King to be a homely buffoon, and Sally, who is pregnant, no longer available to him. The complicated process of learning acceptance and being accepted is one Henkes explores with confidence and care. His novelist's hand is as sure as his illustrative talents. In this touching and funny book, there are no easy or sudden solutionsjust a sense of isolation slipping away, as Wedge reaches out and receives much more than he expects. Ages 7-11. (March)
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6 Wedge is ten, fat, and unhappy. He feeds his unhappiness, downing cans of instant whipped cream at a sitting. He is miserable because his mother has a new husband, a tall, skinny man ten years her senior, with a five-year-old son who is skinny too. What's worse, Wedge's new stepfather owns a miniature golf course decorated with castles, calls himself King, and wears a crown all day. All most embarrassing, but then Wedge learns that his mother is expecting another child. Wedge faces the awful realization that he is being forced into adolescence, or something. Henke's handling of Wedge's problems is masterful and shows a keen understanding of childhood. In only a few pages, readers will see Wedge grow and mature and come to appreciate his almost all-new family. Wedge's parents are refreshingly decent people who try hard, make errors, but ultimately succeed in helping to bring Wedge around. Readers are left with the impression that Wedge is a good kid who learns to adapt to life as it is. Still, there's that weight problem, and perhaps Henkes will take that up in another volume. Robert Unsworth, Scarsdale Junior High School, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140384260
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/28/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 720L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.06 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Kevin Henkes

Kevin Henkes is the author of Junonia, Sun & Spoon, Bird Lake Moon, and the Newbery Honor Book Olive's Ocean. He also writes and illustrates picture books, and among his many titles are the national bestsellers Little White Rabbit, My Garden, Old Bear, A Good Day, and Kitten's First Full Moon, for which he was awarded the Caldecott Medal. Mr. Henkes is also the creator of a series of books starring mouse characters, including the Penny books for beginning readers, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Chrysanthemum, and Owen, for which he was awarded a Caldecott Honor.

Kevin Henkes lives with his family in Madison, Wisconsin.

Kevin Henkes is the author of Junonia, Sun & Spoon, Bird Lake Moon, and the Newbery Honor Book Olive's Ocean. He also writes and illustrates picture books, and among his many titles are the national bestsellers Little White Rabbit, My Garden, Old Bear, A Good Day, and Kitten's First Full Moon, for which he was awarded the Caldecott Medal. Mr. Henkes is also the creator of a series of books starring mouse characters, including the Penny books for beginning readers, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Chrysanthemum, and Owen, for which he was awarded a Caldecott Honor.

Kevin Henkes lives with his family in Madison, Wisconsin.

Biography

Kevin Henkes still owns some of his favorite books from childhood. "They're brimming with all the telltale signs of true love: dog-eared pages, fingerprints on my favorite illustrations, my name and address inscribed on both front and back covers in inch-high lettering, and the faint smell of stale peanut butter on the bindings," he says in an interview on his web site.

Back in his peanut-butter sandwich days, Henkes dreamed of becoming an artist. By high school, he had combined his love of drawing with a newfound interest in writing, and at age 19, he took his portfolio to New York City in hopes of finding a publisher. Young Henkes returned home from his weeklong trip with a contract from Greenwillow Books, and he's worked as a children's writer and illustrator ever since.

Henkes's style has evolved over the years to include more humor, more whimsy and a lot more mice. Though he began illustrating his picture books with realistic drawings of children, he's since developed a recurring cast of mouse characters rendered in a more cartoon-like style -- though with a range of expressions that make the spirited Lilly, anxious Wemberly, fearless Sheila Rae and sensitive Chrysanthemum into highly believable heroines. Owen, the story of a little mouse who isn't ready to give up his tattered security blanket, won a Caldecott Honor Medal for its winsome watercolor-and-ink illustrations.

Many of Henkes's mouse books deal with such common childhood ordeals as starting school, being teased and getting lost. Chrysanthemum, about a mouse whose new schoolmates tease her about her name, was inspired by Henkes's own feelings when he started school. "The book is about family, and how starting something new and going out into the world can be very hard," he told an interviewer for The Five Owls. "I remember going to kindergarten -- my grandfather had a beautiful rose garden, and he gave me the last roses of the season to bring to the kindergarten teacher the next day. I don't even remember how it happened, but an older kid took these flowers from me on the playground, and I remember coming home, feeling awful." As a grown-up, Henkes is able to translate difficult childhood transitions into stories that are both honest and reassuring. In a review of Chrysanthemum, Kirkus Reviews noted: "Henkes's language and humor are impeccably fresh, his cozy illustrations sensitive and funny, his little asides to adults an unobtrusive delight."

Henkes has also written novels for older children, in which he "explores family relationships with breathtaking tenderness" (Publisher's Weekly). In The Birthday Room, for example, a twelve-year-old boy learns the reason for his mother's long estrangement from her brother, and helps effect a reconciliation. "Refreshingly, Henkes has given us a male protagonist who is reflective, creative and emotionally sensitive," wrote Karen Leggett in The New York Times Book Review. "Ben feels the anguish of his mother's long-simmering bitterness and his uncle's agonizing guilt. Yet at a time when it is almost a fad to blame dysfunctional families for problems, we learn that even though there are never simple answers and not many fairy-tale endings, families can heal."

Though his novels are more complex and serious than his picture books, all Henkes's works suggest an author with deep empathy for the intense emotions of childhood. As a Publisher's Weekly reviewer wrote, "Behind each book is a wide-open heart, one readers can't help but respond to, that makes all of Henkes's books of special value to children."

Good To Know

Henkes's wife, Laura Dronzek, is also an artist. She painted the cover illustration for Henkes' novel Sun and Spoon and illustrated his picture book Oh!.

Henkes has turned down requests to use his mouse characters in a television series, but some of his books are available in video form in Chrysanthemum and More Kevin Henkes Stories. The video's narrators include Meryl Streep, Sarah Jessica Parker and Mary Beth Hurt.

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse has been adapted into a stage play.

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    1. Hometown:
      Madison, Wisconsin
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 27, 1960
    2. Place of Birth:
      Racine, Wisconsin
    1. Education:
      University of Wisconsin, Madison
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Scarecrows

The castle. Although it was only seven feet tall, it appeared oddly majestic with the sun rising in the east behind it. Its ornate spires glittered in the morning light, and the elongated shadows they cast ran across the tee-off mat, over the driveway, and pointed directly to Wedge's bedroom window like large arrows.

Wedge was sitting on his bed, his pajamas still on, rubbing the drowsiness from his puffy eyes. He yawned as he rose and shuffled across the rippling linoleum more like an old man than a ten-year-old boy. The floor creaked and groaned under his weight. He stopped at the window, squinting at the castle. Wedge scowled at the golden turrets. "I feel like I'm waking up in Disneyland," he said to himself, disgusted.

It wasn't Disneyland. A far cry from it. Actually, it was King Arthur's Camelot — Mayfield, Wisconsin's first and only miniature golf course.

Arthur ("King") Simpson, Camelot's owner and Wedge's brand-new stepfather, had just opened the course at the end of the school year. Camelot was King's pride and joy. Wedge thought it was embarrassing. He couldn't understand why a grown man would pour his entire life into a minature golf course, go by the nickname King, or parade around in public in a plastic gold crown with fake jewels glued on. Especially when he was married to your very own mother.

It didn't make any sense to Wedge. Sometimes nothing made sense to Wedge. In fact, most of the time nothing made sense to Wedge anymore.

For openers, Wedge neverunderstood why his real father had to take off before he was born and never come back. Wedge didn't even have a picture of him. And his mother's description of him — when Wedge pressed her for one — had a tendency to change from time to time. Drastically. Wedge wondered if she ever really got a good look at him.

Wedge also never understood why, out of the entire male population of Mayfield, his mother had to choose King for a husband. Two of Wedge's friends — Jackie DeRose and Eric Scheller — had stepfathers, too. But that was different. Wedge wasn't exactly sure how it was different, but he knew that it was. Maybe it had something to do with that stupid crown King always wore. (At least Jackie's stepdad had the decency to cover his head with a Milwaukee Brewers cap.) Or maybe it was because acquiring King was a package deal — along with him came his own son, Andrew.

Whenever Wedge looked at Andrew (who was five), he was reminded of King. And whenever he looked at King (who was thirty-eight), he was reminded of Andrew. In Wedge's opinion they both bordered on pathetic. They were thin and pale with lanky arms that hung down the sides of their bodies like long curtains. Their arms even moved like curtains would — floppy and smooth. And if the wind happened to be blowing, Wedge thought that they could pass for scarecrows — sleeves waving wildly about, as if they had no arms at all.

Their faces were almost white with pinkish splotches haphazardly cropping up here and there. The splotches turned deep red when King got angry or when Andrew was embarrassed. And their hair was like blond string, falling halfway down their faces in straight lines, partially covering their beaked noses. (Andrew's, incidentally, happened to be dripping quite frequently.)

Pitiful, Wedge thought. Extremely pitiful.

Wedge had physical problems of his own, but they were more tolerable; he looked almost normal. Most obvious was the fact that Wedge was slightly overweight. Possibly more than slightly overweight. Wedge liked to eat and it showed.

Wedge's other disability, only he, his mother, and his pediatrician knew about. The left side of his buttocks was completely covered with a large white spot. Doctor Harris said it was simply from a lack of pigment in his skin and that it was nothing to be alarmed about. The spot was in the shape of Texas, upside down.

Wedge vowed that no one else would ever see his spot, except for his wife if he ever got married. Which was highly unlikely because most of the girls he knew were like Judith Mills. And that was bad news.

Wedge was thinking that perhaps the spot meant that his real father was living in Texas somewhere, when his mother called from the hallway.

"Wedge! Andrew! Time for breakfast!"

"How can she sound so cheerful?" Wedge mumbled, taking one last look at the castle, before turning and heading for the good smells of the kitchen.

It didn't make sense.

Like everything else.

Nothing. Ever. Made. Sense.

When Wedge entered the kitchen, King and Andrew were already seated at the table eyeing stacks of steaming pancakes. Wedge could tell that King had done the cooking, because the pancakes were perfect, golden disks. Sallyalways made pancakes in the shapes of unidentifiable animals, which were usually broken, crumbled, or burned by the time they got to your plate. Wedge walked past his new father and brother without a word and sat at the far end of the table.

"Morning, Sally," Wedge said to his mother, who was waiting in her bright red robe by the stove for the teakettle to whistle. Her hair hung down past her shoulders, resembling spiral macaroni spray-painted bronze.

"Morning, honey," she replied with a toothy smile. Like a cardinal, she flitted around the table and pecked the top of his head, her robe swooshing about her.

For as long as he could remember, Wedge had always called his mother Sally. According to her, the terms mom, mother, and ma made her feel like an old lady. "Something I hope I never am, she said frequently.

"Does that mean you plan on dying young?" Wedge had asked once when he was in a temperamental mood and his mother's indignation at being called what she naturally was annoyed him. He even fleetingly pondered the possibility that she wasn't his mother, but quickly dismissed the thought.

"No," she had answered, "it just means that I plan on staying young in spirit until I'm at least one hundred.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2000

    'TWO UNDER PAR', a must-read!

    When Wedge's mother Sally marries King, the owner of a golf course called Camelot, Wedge feels left out. And crushed. Especially when Sally goes camping with her stepson, Andrew, and leaves Wedge with King. But Wedge discovers that King has his good sides. A humorous and touching book, that you can read more than once.

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