The Zebra Wallby Kevin Henkes
The Vorlob family are making preparations of the best kind. A new baby is on the way! Getting ready includes painting a mural in the baby's nursery and making a list of possible names. Ten year old Adine knows this routine well -- she has four sisters already: Bernice, Carla, Dot, and Effie. But nothing will be routine about this event, especially after… See more details below
The Vorlob family are making preparations of the best kind. A new baby is on the way! Getting ready includes painting a mural in the baby's nursery and making a list of possible names. Ten year old Adine knows this routine well -- she has four sisters already: Bernice, Carla, Dot, and Effie. But nothing will be routine about this event, especially after boisterours, eccentric Aunt Irene arrives to help out. Adine just wants her family life back, but what she gets might be a whole lot more ... Kevin Henke's gift for creating what Kirkus Reviews calls a "simply told but multilayered story, rich in imagery and feeling," shines brightly in this funny, wholly appealing novel first published in 1988.
Read an Excerpt
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."
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?"
"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.
Meet the Author
Kevin Henkes is the author of Junonia, Sun & Spoon, Bird Lake Moon, and the Newbery Honor Books The Year of Billy Miller and 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.
- Madison, Wisconsin
- Date of Birth:
- November 27, 1960
- Place of Birth:
- Racine, Wisconsin
- University of Wisconsin, Madison
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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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?
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.
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.
This book is a great book and is very funny. I read it when i was 8 and have loved it ever since.