The Zebra Wall [NOOK Book]

Overview

The Vorlob family is making preparations. Preparations for the new baby, soon to arrive. Getting ready includes painting a mural in the baby's nursery and making a list of possible names. Adine, age ten, is used to the routine -- she has four sisters already: Bernice, Carla, Dot, and Effie. This time, however, the routine is broken. In more ways than one. Most significantly, Aunt Irene will be staying with the Vorlobs until Mrs. Vorlob is rested and back on her feet. Aunt Irene arrives, as does the baby, but ...

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The Zebra Wall

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Overview

The Vorlob family is making preparations. Preparations for the new baby, soon to arrive. Getting ready includes painting a mural in the baby's nursery and making a list of possible names. Adine, age ten, is used to the routine -- she has four sisters already: Bernice, Carla, Dot, and Effie. This time, however, the routine is broken. In more ways than one. Most significantly, Aunt Irene will be staying with the Vorlobs until Mrs. Vorlob is rested and back on her feet. Aunt Irene arrives, as does the baby, but nothing goes quite as expected. Especially for Adine.

When ten-year-old Adine's mother has a new baby, eccentric Aunt Irene comes to stay and shares Adine's bedroom--an event which requires a great deal of adjustment.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The softened watercolor worlds of Henkes's picture books sometimes distract readers from his acute understanding of just how harsh life can be. This awareness is glimpsed in his first novel, Two Under Par, but this new one is even more unflinching and more sensitive. Adine Vorlob doesn't like her Aunt Irene, who has a whiskery moustache and a habit of smoking narrow brown cigarettes, and readers will find it all too easy to dislike Irene, too. But she is moving into Adine's room while the Vorlobs adjust to the new baby, which surprises them all by being a boy (Adine's four other siblings are girls). The arrival of this boy breaks family tradition in many ways, not the least of which is the alphabetical order of the girls' namesAdine, Bernice, Carla, Dot and Effie. This is not another new-baby story; Henkes knows that every worry in a child's life has many layers. He depicts Adine's concerns with depth and sweetly persuasive touches of compassion, treating the thoughts and feelings of a 10-year-old with uncanny justice. Ages 8-up. (April)
Children's Literature - Dr. Judy Rowen
Adine is the quiet, eldest daughter in the Vorlob family. The five girls were named alphabetically; Adine is followed by Bernice, Carla, Dot and Effie. Now the sixth Vorlob is about to arrive, so the family paints the nursery with items that begin with "F". Aunt Irene moves in, into Adine's room, ostensibly to help with the new baby but also to recover from a divorce. Aunt Irene is embarrassing and bossy, and Adine hates the smell of the brown cigarettes she smokes incessantly. The tension between them increases, and things don't go as expected when the new baby arrives. Introspective Adine is a common personality type in large families, and one with whom many readers may sympathize. The Vorlobs' endless smoking is a bit disturbing, but Adine's fears about cancer and Mrs. Vorlob's avoidance of smoking during pregnancy temper this concern somewhat.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6 Henkes' story presents a lov ing, creative family with Adine Vorlob, a sensitive, intelligent youngster as the main character. The arrival of a sixth child provides the catalyst which helps ten-year-old Adine understand her ec centric and bossy Aunt Irene. As the oldest, Adine has participated in the traditional creation of a special nursery wall to celebrate the first initial of each of her five sisters, all named alphabeti cally from B to E. All of the family is convinced that a sixth female will join the line. The title announces a surpris ing change. Aunt Irene comes to care for the girls while their mother is in the hospital and stays to help out after wards, much to the children's dismay. With her sisters, Adine plots to get Aunt Irene to leave, but in the end learns compassion and understanding. Henkes' characters are well drawn and appealingly unusual. As in Two Under Par (Greenwillow, 1987), he writes with humor about a caring family. Fans of Beverly Cleary and Betsy Byars will enjoy this newest Henkes selection. Renee Steinberg, Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, N.J.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062284693
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/2/2013
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 859,430
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Kevin Henkes

Kevin Henkes is the author and illustrator of close to fifty critically acclaimed and award-winning picture books, beginning readers, and novels. He received the Caldecott Medal for Kitten's First Full Moon in 2005. Kevin Henkes is also the creator of a number of picture books featuring his mouse characters, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Lilly's Big Day and Wemberly Worried, the Caldecott Honor Book Owen, and the beloved Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse. His most recent mouse character, Penny, was introduced in Penny and Her Song (2012); her story continued in Penny and Her Doll and Penny and Her Marble (a Geisel Honor Book). Bruce Handy, in a New York Times Book Review piece about A Good Day, wrote, "It should be said: Kevin Henkes is a genius." Kevin Henkes received two Newbery Honors for novels—one for his newest novel for young readers, The Year of Billy Miller, and the other for Olive's Ocean. Also among his fiction for older readers are the novels Junonia, Bird Lake Moon, The Birthday Room, and Sun & Spoon. He 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

Spaghetti Sauce

The long list of names was fastened to the refrigerator door with a thick, hot pink magnet in the shape of an ice-cream cone. At the top of the list was the name Francine, at the bottom -- Frito. In between was everything from Faye to Florence.

The list on the refrigerator was a sampling of potential names for the new Vorlob baby. There were no boys' names on the list because the Vorlobs were certain that the baby would be a girl. They were positive. And why wouldn't they be? There were five girls in the Vorlob family already -- Adine (age ten), Bernice (age eight), Carla (age seven), Dot (age four), and Effie (age two). It just seemed fitting and logical that the new baby would be a girl and that her name should begin with the letter F.

Everyone in the family could add as many names to the list as they wanted. Then, after the baby was born -- and everyone had had a good look at her -- they would have a family meeting and vote.

Adine had written only one name on the list -- Florinda. She hoped that everyone would vote for Florinda, but she had her doubts. Bernice and Carla were both pulling for Francine, Dot couldn't decide between Flopsy ("After Peter Rabbit's sister!" she'd yell), and Frito ("After my favorite food!" she'd squeal), and Effie was too little to understand. Mr. Vorlob just kept adding names to the list without voicing his opinion. And Mrs. Vorlob kept saying, "I've always loved the name Phyllis -- it's so classy -- but I doubt if I'll ever make it to the letter P. Maybe we could spell it with an F."

Adine thought that Phyllis -- spelled with an F or a P, or spelled backward, for that matter -- was anything but classy. In fact, Adine wasn't too fond of any of their names, including her own. Adine. Especially her own. She preferred names like Melissa and Jennifer Rose and Courtney and Heather. When she recently told her mother about this, Mrs. Vorlob said, "Adine, those are such fancy-shmancy names. You and your sisters' names have class, and they're earthy. Sturdy as rock."

I'd rather not be compared to a rock, Adine felt like saying. But she didn't. She knew it wasn't worth getting into. If her mother had her mind set a certain way, Adine doubted if even a Mack truck could budge it.

Determined, was how Mr. Vorlob described his wife. Adine thought that stubborn was a more fitting word. "At least you always know where you stand with me," Adine heard her mother say on the phone once, in her thick, burly voice. "I don't pussyfoot around. And I'm not like some people who let things bottle up inside them. "

Adine was like that. She'd keep things to herself until her stomach felt like a Sunbeam blender on high speed. And that's exactly how she felt right now. She had found out earlier that morning that she would have to share her bedroom with her Aunt Irene. Aunt Irene would be coming to help out with the new baby.

"How long is Aunt Irene staying?" Adine asked her mother, twisting a strand of her hair around and around her finger. Adine's hair was straight, nearly white, and hung down past her waist. Mrs. Vorlob was sitting at the kitchen table, waiting for the large pot of spaghettisauce on the counter to cool. She was going to pour the sauce into her Tupperware containers to freeze for Mr. Vorlob to heat up when she was in the hospital. And for when she came home afterward and wouldn't feel like cooking.

"She'll stay until I get back on my feet after the baby," Mrs. Vorlob replied, a carrot stickdangling out of the corner of her mouth. She was substituting carrot and celery sticks for cigarettes while she was pregnant. She even filled her leather cigarette case with them to bring along if she and Mr. Vorlob happened to be going out. In imitation, Carla and Dot had taken up pretend-smoking with vegetables, too, which Adine thought looked silly.

"How long will that be?" Adine pressed.

"I don't know, Adine," Mrs. Vorlob answered, flicking the carrot stick over an empty ashtray and blowing imaginary smoke. "A week, a month. However long it takes." She took a bite of the carrot, crunching it loudly as she chewed. Mrs. Vorlob was wearing her bright yellow, terry maternity dress. Her short blond hair ended midway down her neck and seemed to melt into the color of the dress. Adine thought that her mother looked pretty in the dress. Adine also thought that her mother looked like a giant pear. Thick and round and swelling.

"I can help out all you need," Adine offered. "I really will."

"I know that, honey," Mrs. Vorlob said, smiling. "You're my biggest helper around the house. But it'll just be nice for me to have my sister here. Understand?"

Adine shrugged.

"I know you don't want Irene to come, but she is my sister. And she's been having a hard time since her divorce. It'll be good for her to be surrounded by family -- day and night -- for a while." Mrs. Vorlob took a long breath and placed her hands on her abdomen. "I know deep down you understand."

"Okay, Mom," Adine said. "I understand."

And she did. Sort of. Adine understood that Aunt Irene was coming and that there was nothing she could do about it. Nothing at all.

"Anyway, Adine, it's more than a month away," Mrs. Vorlob said cheerfully. "Put it out of your mind for now.

The Zebra Wall. Copyright © by Kevin Henkes. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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First Chapter

The Zebra Wall

Chapter One

Spaghetti Sauce

The long list of names was fastened to the refrigerator door with a thick, hot pink magnet in the shape of an ice-cream cone. At the top of the list was the name Francine, at the bottom -- Frito. In between was everything from Faye to Florence.

The list on the refrigerator was a sampling of potential names for the new Vorlob baby. There were no boys' names on the list because the Vorlobs were certain that the baby would be a girl. They were positive. And why wouldn't they be? There were five girls in the Vorlob family already -- Adine (age ten), Bernice (age eight), Carla (age seven), Dot (age four), and Effie (age two). It just seemed fitting and logical that the new baby would be a girl and that her name should begin with the letter F.

Everyone in the family could add as many names to the list as they wanted. Then, after the baby was born -- and everyone had had a good look at her -- they would have a family meeting and vote.

Adine had written only one name on the list -- Florinda. She hoped that everyone would vote for Florinda, but she had her doubts. Bernice and Carla were both pulling for Francine, Dot couldn't decide between Flopsy ("After Peter Rabbit's sister!" she'd yell), and Frito ("After my favorite food!" she'd squeal), and Effie was too little to understand. Mr. Vorlob just kept adding names to the list without voicing his opinion. And Mrs. Vorlob kept saying, "I've always loved the name Phyllis -- it's so classy -- but I doubt if I'll ever make it to the letter P. Maybe we could spell it with an F."

Adine thought that Phyllis -- spelled with an F or a P, or spelled backward, for that matter -- was anything but classy. In fact, Adine wasn't too fond of any of their names, including her own. Adine. Especially her own. She preferred names like Melissa and Jennifer Rose and Courtney and Heather. When she recently told her mother about this, Mrs. Vorlob said, "Adine, those are such fancy-shmancy names. You and your sisters' names have class, and they're earthy. Sturdy as rock."

I'd rather not be compared to a rock, Adine felt like saying. But she didn't. She knew it wasn't worth getting into. If her mother had her mind set a certain way, Adine doubted if even a Mack truck could budge it.

Determined, was how Mr. Vorlob described his wife. Adine thought that stubborn was a more fitting word. "At least you always know where you stand with me," Adine heard her mother say on the phone once, in her thick, burly voice. "I don't pussyfoot around. And I'm not like some people who let things bottle up inside them. "

Adine was like that. She'd keep things to herself until her stomach felt like a Sunbeam blender on high speed. And that's exactly how she felt right now. She had found out earlier that morning that she would have to share her bedroom with her Aunt Irene. Aunt Irene would be coming to help out with the new baby.

"How long is Aunt Irene staying?" Adine asked her mother, twisting a strand of her hair around and around her finger. Adine's hair was straight, nearly white, and hung down past her waist. Mrs. Vorlob was sitting at the kitchen table, waiting for the large pot of spaghettisauce on the counter to cool. She was going to pour the sauce into her Tupperware containers to freeze for Mr. Vorlob to heat up when she was in the hospital. And for when she came home afterward and wouldn't feel like cooking.

"She'll stay until I get back on my feet after the baby," Mrs. Vorlob replied, a carrot stickdangling out of the corner of her mouth. She was substituting carrot and celery sticks for cigarettes while she was pregnant. She even filled her leather cigarette case with them to bring along if she and Mr. Vorlob happened to be going out. In imitation, Carla and Dot had taken up pretend-smoking with vegetables, too, which Adine thought looked silly.

"How long will that be?" Adine pressed.

"I don't know, Adine," Mrs. Vorlob answered, flicking the carrot stick over an empty ashtray and blowing imaginary smoke. "A week, a month. However long it takes." She took a bite of the carrot, crunching it loudly as she chewed. Mrs. Vorlob was wearing her bright yellow, terry maternity dress. Her short blond hair ended midway down her neck and seemed to melt into the color of the dress. Adine thought that her mother looked pretty in the dress. Adine also thought that her mother looked like a giant pear. Thick and round and swelling.

"I can help out all you need," Adine offered. "I really will."

"I know that, honey," Mrs. Vorlob said, smiling. "You're my biggest helper around the house. But it'll just be nice for me to have my sister here. Understand?"

Adine shrugged.

"I know you don't want Irene to come, but she is my sister. And she's been having a hard time since her divorce. It'll be good for her to be surrounded by family -- day and night -- for a while." Mrs. Vorlob took a long breath and placed her hands on her abdomen. "I know deep down you understand."

"Okay, Mom," Adine said. "I understand."

And she did. Sort of. Adine understood that Aunt Irene was coming and that there was nothing she could do about it. Nothing at all.

"Anyway, Adine, it's more than a month away," Mrs. Vorlob said cheerfully. "Put it out of your mind for now.

The Zebra Wall. Copyright © by Kevin Henkes. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2006

    Cool!!!!

    This book is probably one of the coolest books i have ever read it has alot of things to grab your attention and you will never want to put it down!!!my favorite part was when mrs.vorlb had her baby.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2006

    The 6th child becomes a boy

    This is great it has lots of Twists and turns but ends out well. Adine has five sisters and is grtting another one. She thinks her aunt is embarrassing and bossy and hates the smell of cigeretts her and aunt and mom smoke.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2014

    Tanner

    CONGRATULATIONS.....now go to "Sky" res 10

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 20, 2014

    This is a warm, funny , make-you-feel-good and tolerate the ecce

    This is a warm, funny , make-you-feel-good and tolerate the eccentricities of others story, BUT the mother and Aunt Irene are heavy smokers and father smokes as a way of celebrating the birth of his son.  Both mother and aunt are frequently described as having a cigarette or picking one up, as part of the setting. In light of what we now know about the deadly effect of smoking, I would not give this book to any child or recommend it. Nowhere in the story does the author come out strongly  against smoking or describe the possible consequences.
    Perhaps the author would rewrite it and give us a new 2016 edition?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2001

    This is a great book. I have loved it ever since i read it when i was about 8 years old.

    This book is a great book and is very funny. I read it when i was 8 and have loved it ever since.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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