Wall and the Wing by Laura Ruby, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Wall and the Wing
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Wall and the Wing

4.7 4
by Laura Ruby

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A few, nicknamed leadfeet, are forced to forever spend their lives closer to the ground. But one night, a girl named Gurl—a leadfoot, an orphan, a nobody—discovers that she can do something much better than fly.

She can become invisible.

Along with a new friend, a boy named Bug, Gurl begins a quest that takes her on a wild ride through the magical


A few, nicknamed leadfeet, are forced to forever spend their lives closer to the ground. But one night, a girl named Gurl—a leadfoot, an orphan, a nobody—discovers that she can do something much better than fly.

She can become invisible.

Along with a new friend, a boy named Bug, Gurl begins a quest that takes her on a wild ride through the magical city, all the way to the handsome but lethal Sweetcheeks Grabowski—the gangster who holds the key to Gurl's past . . . and the world's future.

Editorial Reviews

“A wonderful combination of the buddy novel and pure fantasy. An excellent adventure, smartly written and wholly original.”
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (Starred Review)
“Witty and ironic, Ruby’s sharp writing propels the story to an exhilarating climax”
ALA Booklist
“Intriguing, offbeat fantasy. Readers will look forward to the upcoming sequel.”
Bookseller (London)
“A most engaging read.”
"...Ruby's characters are both colorful and kooky, detailed in high relief, but readers will have to stay focused to navigate the plot's hairpin curves that turn back on themselves. Older readers might be able to tease out all the pop-culture allusions, whereas younger readers will stay caught up in the off-center, comic-book-like world. Witty and ironic, Ruby's sharp writing propels the story to an exhilarating climax that stops only an inch away from disaster and brings all the characters and their twisted tales together in an ending that seems only fitting for an over-the-top mystery adventure."
The Bookseller
"...a most engaging read."
Publishers Weekly
In Ruby's quirky and compelling fantasy, the standouts are a strange, cat-collecting professor who consults a creepy "answer hand" that he purchased on eBay, and an orphan called Gurl who can turn invisible, in a futuristic New York City (where people can fly). Raudman, with a velvety, confident voice, does a fine job of characterizing the rest of the oddball group, too, including a gangster named Sweetcheeks Grabowski, a rat man, a monster with a zipper face and an orphan boy named Bug with whom Gurl tries to outrun all the villains who want to exploit her power. Listeners may have some initial difficulty keeping this beefy cast straight. But those who stick with it will be rewarded by a memorable, brisk-moving outing peppered with bits of humor. Ages 11-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Every one hundred years or so a Wall is born--a female child with the remarkable ability to become invisible. The most recent Wall was kidnapped at birth and her whereabouts unknown. At Mrs. Terwiliger's Hope House for the Homeless and Hopeless, Gurl is one of the loneliest orphans. She is a leadfoot, unable to fly like the others. The night she finds a mysterious cat, Gurl makes an amazing discovery--she can fade into the wall and become invisible. The ruthless matron who uses her collection of mechanical monkeys to rob the orphans of their memories learns her secret and blackmails Gurl into stealing for her. Gurl befriends a boy, Bug, who like her is unable to fly. Together they flee the orphanage with the foundling cat when it become apparent that gangster Sweetcheeks Grabowski was hot on Gurl's trail. The pair face danger at every twist and turn of this madcap plot. The two must outrun and outsmart not only Grabowski but also the Rat Man who lives in the sewer and the man with the zippered face. The one person who may be able to help is the Professor, an eccentric who favors housedresses and flip-flops and has grass sprouting from his head. Set sometime in the future in New York City this zany fantasy will take readers on a wild ride. Broad humor, fast pace, and offbeat characters will have readers turning the pages at breakneck speed. Tighter editing could have prevented the lagging pace of the last two chapters. It does hint of a sequel, which should pique the interest of readers for the next adventure. 2006, HarperCollins, and Ages 10 to 12.
—Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Laura Ruby's dark fantasy (Eos, 2006) takes place in a New York City of the future where almost everyone can fly. Gurl, an orphan at Hope House for the Homeless and Hopeless, can't fly but discovers that she can make herself invisible. Mrs. Terwiliger, who runs the orphanage, blackmails Gurl into stealing expensive furs and perfumes and hacking into a plastic surgeon's computer to erase Terwiliger's unpaid bills. Gurl and Bug, a boy who wishes only to fly, manage to escape but get caught in the clutches of Sweetcheeks Grabowski, a gangster who sees that these two have more to offer than most realize. Among the other outlandish characters are a professor whose head is covered with grass instead of hair, spiked-tooth Rat-men, a mysterious cat who blow dries its fur, a hand that speaks sign language, and a zipper-faced monster. Sophisticated vocabulary and the vast array of players are a lot to digest, but Ren e Raudman gives each character a distinct voice to help keep things straight (but her accent is often more Chicago than New York). A surprising romp through the freakish, urban landscape, this fast-paced story will appeal to listeners who yearn for independence and happy endings.-Robin Levin, Fort Washakie School/Community Library, WY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Gurl, like all the orphans in Hope House for the Homeless and Hopeless, doesn't remember her given name, if she ever had one, so she has to content herself with the one headmistress Terwiliger has handed her that's a borderline insult. Gurl is a flightless "leadfoot" in a world where some can fly and most can float. She's happy to remain unnoticed as often as possible until she literally blends in with the woodwork. Gurl is the born-once-a-century Wall, and every sneak thief wants control of her. She and friend Bug, who hopes to be a swift-flying Wing, evade capture for a time, but Sweetcheeks Grabowski, notorious gangster, finally nabs them. With the aid of a secret-storing monkey, a riddle-bearing cat and an ancient professor with grass for hair, Gurl and Bug discover their pasts and connect with a hopeful future. The last chapters of Ruby's sophomore effort are excellent, but few will make it through this sluggish, overlong fantasy adventure. Less than the sum of its imaginative parts, this misses the high mark set by her Lily's Ghosts (2003). (Fantasy. 10-14)
Esme Raji Codell
“No need to compare to Harry Potter; with The Wall and the Wing, American fantasy takes full flight.”
“A wonderful combination of the buddy novel and pure fantasy. An excellent adventure, smartly written and wholly original.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.09(d)
770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Wall and the Wing

By Laura Ruby

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Laura Ruby
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060752564

Chapter One

The Girl Who Wasn't There

Gurl had no idea what made her do it. One minute she was surrounded by a sea of snoring girls, staring at the broken lock on the dirty window. The next minute she was racing through the city like an ostrich on fire.

She ran many blocks before she stopped, shocked at herself. She -- Gurl the gutless, Gurl the helpless, Gurl the useless -- had escaped from Hope House for the Homeless and Hopeless, even if it was only for the night. In front of her, the city snaked out like an amusement park. Gurl drank in as much as she could: the glittering lights of the buildings, the laughter of the people floating by, the bleating horns of the taxis, the scent of car exhaust tinged with tomato sauce.

It was this last that drew her to the section of the city called Little Italy, to Luigi's Restaurant. She loitered in front of it, catching her breath as she watched the diners inside sip wine and twirl spaghetti onto their forks. People watching was her favorite thing to do, and she was very good at it. It seemed to Gurl that everyone was either a watcher or a doer, and the watchers were greatly outnumbered. However, there were benefits to watching. For example, inside Luigi's a couple drifted from their table, forgetting a package of leftovers, which was then scooped up by the busboy.

Gurl ran around the restaurant to the alley behind, crouched next to the garbage cans, and waited for the busboy to come out with the evening's trash. Someone kicked a can down a nearby sidewalk, and its tinny clang echoed in the alley. "You wanna mess? You wanna mess?" she heard. "Yeah, boyee, let's mess!" The voices got louder as a bunch of teenagers flew by the alleyway, throwing long shadows on the greasy pavement. Gurl smiled to herself. The noise was a part of the music of the city, and she could listen to it all night long if she wanted.

She leaned her head back against the brick and looked up at the sky, plush and gray like a dome of fur, brightened by the lights from the skyscrapers and billboards. An occasional Wing darted high overhead, looping and weaving around the buildings, but it was nothing like daytime. In the daytime people hopped and bounced and flew all over the place, even if they could only get an inch or two off the ground. Just one more reason to enjoy the dark. Only a few showy Wings rather than thousands of them, thrilled with their own stupid tricks.

Airheads, the whole bunch. She was not jealous of them. Not one little bit.

The metal door of the restaurant opened, and the busboy hopped out, swinging two garbage bags. Even with the garbage bags, the busboy was trying to fly. He jumped straight up, but the weight of the bags and his obvious lack of talent ensured that his feet lifted no more than a yard from the ground. Gurl muffled a giggle with the back of her hand as the busboy jumped his way over to the Dumpster, looking very much like a giant, ungainly frog. He opened the Dumpster and tossed the trash bags inside. Then he turned and leaped into the air, this time clearing the top of the Dumpster before landing. Gurl was sure the busboy -- only a few years older than Gurl herself -- had hopes of being a great Wing, dreams of joining a Wing team or maybe competing in the citywide festival and taking home the Golden Eagle. She wondered when he would realize that his dream was just that, a dream. When he would see that most of his life would be spent scuttling closer to the earth.

The busboy dropped in a crouch, panting. He looked around, to the left and to the right. Gurl stiffened, keeping herself completely still behind the garbage cans that hid her. He squinted, staring at something. A mouse, running alongside the brick. The busboy jumped up again, crashing to the ground in front of the mouse. It gave a tiny squeal and ran the other way. The busboy did it again, jumping and crashing, terrifying the little animal, laughing as he did. Gurl waited until he sprang up a third time before reaching out from her hiding place, snatching up the mouse, and tucking it into her sleeve.

The busboy landed, his grin turning to a frown, wondering where his victim had gone. Then, shrugging, he veered around and went back into the restaurant, slamming the door behind him.

Gurl rested her hand on the pavement. The mouse crawled out from the safety of her sleeve and ran into the darkness. "'Bye," said Gurl, watching as it disappeared through a hole in the brick. She supposed she was lucky that the busboy hadn't seen her, but then again, she was not the type of girl that people noticed -- she was too thin, too pale, too quiet. Sometimes people looked right through her as if she weren't there at all, their eyes sliding off her as if she were made of something too slippery to see. Nobody, nowhere. When she was little, it made her feel lonely. Now she only felt grateful.

She stretched and walked over to the Dumpster. After throwing open the lid, she dug around until she found what she was looking for: four foil-wrapped packages of leftovers. Ravioli, lasagna, salad, and a huge hunk of gooey chocolate cake.

If only the other kids from Hope House for the Homeless and Hopeless were here, watching, maybe they wouldn't think so little of her. But they, like everyone else, believed flying was their ticket to fame and fortune, and thought Gurl was horribly afflicted, maybe even contagious. Mrs. Terwiliger, the matron of Hope House, had taken her to a specialist once. First he thumped at her knees with a rubber mallet to . . .


Excerpted from The Wall and the Wing by Laura Ruby Copyright © 2006 by Laura Ruby. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are saying about this

Esme Raji Codell
"Inimitably imaginative, original, funny and exciting, this story plays its tune upon the deepest wishes of children. No need to compare with Harry Potter or The Thief Lord; with The Wall and the Wing, American fantasy takes full flight."
author of Sahara Special and Diary of a Fairy Godmother

Meet the Author

Laura Ruby is a Chicago-based writer who is also the author of Lily’s Ghosts, The Wall and the Wing, and Good Girls, as well as short fiction for adults. You can visit Laura online at www.lauraruby.com.

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4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Hauntedtower More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I've read in a long time but I wish they had an ebook version 
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Wall and the Wing was so good it was scary.It was excting and fun fulled.Once you get asbord in this book you won't set it down.In my opoion, my favorite chacter would be the Sweetchecks, but I won't go to far.Anyway this book is great you should try it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is woderful. Mrs. Codell is absolutely right when she says ''no need to compare to Harry Potter.'' One of the best books I've ever read. I received the pleasure of meeting Laura Ruby, the author. She is one of the most interesting and kind people I've ever met. I'd reccomend this book to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book. Gurl and Bug are unforgettable characters filled with wit and personalities you can¿t help but love. The plot is full of twists and turns, and the story is heartwarming. This book entertains you, but it also teaches some important lessons. It¿s a page turner!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book and I love it! The story is about a young orphan girl with an extraordinary ability in a world where people can fly. The characters are likable and fun as is the story! I recommend this book to anyone who likes stories with a flair of fantasy.