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A Winter Night's Dream

A Winter Night's Dream

by Andrew Matthews, Julie Gonzalez

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"Go out and fall in love with somebody! It'll do your understanding of literature the world of good."

For Casey and Stew, this advice from their English teacher is just the beginning. How exactly do they fall in love?

Casey meets Dean at a party. Dean is gorgeous, he rides a motorcycle, and he's dancing with her. But Casey soon discovers that


"Go out and fall in love with somebody! It'll do your understanding of literature the world of good."

For Casey and Stew, this advice from their English teacher is just the beginning. How exactly do they fall in love?

Casey meets Dean at a party. Dean is gorgeous, he rides a motorcycle, and he's dancing with her. But Casey soon discovers that Dean's rebel-without-a-cause act can only go so far.

Stew meets Lucy at the school dance concert. He's doing the lighting; she's the star. Everything is going well—until Stew realizes that Lucy's dancing will always come first.

Literature is one thing, but what happens if the person you fall in love with doesn't fall back?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Matthews's (The Flip Side) charming novel, which riffs on the Bard's romantic comedy, unfolds in acts and scenes, as it alternates between two funny narrators, Stewart and Casey. Senior Stewart meets "absolutely perfect" freshman Lucy when he agrees to do the lighting for a dance concert in which she's performing; freshman Casey meets motorcycle-riding Dean at a wild party. Dean spills his troubles to Casey, telling her she's "easy to talk to"); at that same party, Stewart and Lucy share a dance and clever repartee. Through the eyes of the narrators, the author captures the rapture of first love ("Someone had noticed that I wasn't the same as everybody else, and that made me notice it too," muses Casey), and the na vet that accompanies it (Dean has a quick temper and Lucy's first love is dance). Stewart and Casey each realize that, just as Casey's teacher sums up the similarly titled play he assigns (A Midsummer Night's Dream), they have fallen "in love with the wrong people." A subplot about Stewart's best friend falling for Casey's best friend grows rather thin, and both main characters' relationships come to quick ends. But the protagonists' entertaining narration will keep readers engaged (after meeting Lucy, Stewart tries to forget her, "but in order to do it, I had to think about her"), and the audience will likely be amused by the parallels in Stewart and Casey's stories that lead to their eventual meeting. Ages 12-up. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Casey and Stew rely on advice from their English teacher, Mr. Hart, to get them through difficult times. But when Mr. Hart comments in Casey's class that students really need to "fall in love with somebody...it will really help your understanding of literature," he sets Casey, and inadvertently, Stew, on the path to love and all of its highs and lows. Casey meets Dean—motorcycle rebel without a clue—while Stew falls hard for Lucy, dancer extraordinaire. In the course of their burgeoning relationships, both Casey and Stew find that the path to true love is exceedingly bumpy; Lucy has plans far beyond their hometown life and Dean seems unable to commit to a relationship that might actually include talking and sharing feelings. Combine their young lover's confusion with over-attentive parents, equally confused friends, and the backdrop of the school day and you have a book that will provide an easy read for middle-school students wondering about their own budding romances. Casey and Stew's love lives will probably not leave a lasting impression on young adults, but they will provide a pretty benign consideration of love won/love lost that may well make "tweeners" feel better about their own situations. 2004, Delacorte Press, Ages 12 to 16.
—Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Freshman Casey and senior Stewart fall hopelessly in love with the wrong people in this tale based loosely on William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Their well-developed stories alternate in sequential chapters, with Casey mooning over bad boy Dean and Stewart agog for the beautiful dancer Lucy. After some realistic teenage messes, Dean and Lucy eventually pass out of the picture; Casey and Stewart are introduced by their not-so-subtly named teacher Mr. Hart, and all's well that ends well. Matthews's fun imagery (shy Casey wants to "go tap-dancing with Tigers") lifts this book above the average love story.-Paula J. LaRue, Van Wert City Schools, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A winsome tale in a couple of voices first published in England in 1997; most of the Briticisms remain intact. The language is full of wit and sharp corners and tender observation. Casey (Karen Celia) and her best friend Helen are beginning to wonder about boys, and about feelings. Stew and his best pal Phil can still play Barf Bag but are beginning to question the whole idea of girls and feelings too. Their English teacher, Mr. Hart, offers a few words and a direction. At the kind of party parents dread, Casey meets Dean, a biscuit with a motorcycle and an attitude; Stew talks to Lucy, the sparkling dancer for whose show he works the lights. Phil finds Helen but can't remember her name. Kissing ensues, but Lucy goes to London to study dance and Dean wants sex without emotion. Mr. Hart gently makes sure that Stew and Casey talk. A bittersweet but okay ending and it's terrific fun to read. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

A Winter Night's Dream

Act I Scene I: Casey

When I found out Mr. Hart was going to teach me freshman English I was really pleased. He had this reputation for being really wacky, but he was a strict marker as well, so it was practically impossible to get A's from him. I'd seen him around school in his corduroy jacket and trousers, looking a bit like a creased teddy bear, and he'd taken a few assemblies that I actually listened to because they were funny, so I felt like I knew him.

But I started to have doubts when I was talking to Jonathan and Toby, who'd had Mr. Hart in seventh grade. I told them about how great I thought it was, having him for my teacher, and Jonathan shook his head. "I don't think you'll get on with him. He calls girls love and darling."

"Yeah," said Toby, "but he calls the boys love and darling as well."

So when I went into my first lesson with Mr. Hart, I got ready to meet a megaweird sexist perv.

We didn't get off to a brilliant start. Mr. Hart read out the class list and when he got to me he said, "Karen Celia Freeman?"

I said, "Casey."

Mr. Hart looked at me over the top of his glasses. "Sorry?" he said.

I said, "I'm called Casey. It's my initials--K.C. I don't like Karen or Celia. I don't answer to those names."

It came out sharper than I'd meant it to and I saw Mr. Hart wince, like he had me down as someone with attitude because I hadn't called him sir. There was this silence because the whole group was waiting to see what he was going to do about it.

"Celia . . . ," said Mr. Hart. "I once had a girlfriend called Celia. She used to say, 'Jolly dee!"'

The rest of thekids laughed, but I didn't. I thought Mr. Hart was putting me down, like all the other grown-ups in my life.

Being, in the advanced class wasn't as good as I'd expected either. I mean, it was good in a way because if you said something intelligent you didn't get groans from the thickos at the back of the class, but it was harder to get top grades--and that meant pressure from Dad.

The main problem was Spanish. At the end of eighth grade, it seemed like a really good idea to opt for Spanish as a second language, but when it came to Spanish in ninth grade, I got lumbered with Mrs. Pereira. She was one of those teachers who can't keep control but carry on like there's nothing wrong. Kids would talk and mess around in her classes and she didn't do anything to stop them. She just chattered away at the front like everybody was paying attention. So, when report cards came along at the end of the Christmas term, I got a D in Spanish. I couldn't believe it. Id never got lower than a C in my life. Mrs. Pereira's comment was "If Karen were to apply herself more to this subject, her grade would improve." I wanted to scribble on the bottom, "And if you applied yourself more to teaching, all our grades would improve." I didn't, because I knew I was going to get enough hassle as it was.

I don't want to make out like Dad was going to freak or anything, that's not his style. Dad goes in for the quietly-but-deeply-disappointed approach. When he got my report he flicked through it, going, "B, hey, that's all right!" Then he got to the D, and his mouth went all small and tight like a cat's bum. "So what's the problem with Spanish?" he said.

I said, "Mrs. Pereira's a rubbish teacher."

"If she was a rubbish teacher, she wouldn't have the advanced class, would she?" said Dad.

"She can't control us!"

"She shouldn't have to control you; you should be behaving yourself."

"I am!"

"Then how come you only got a D?"

He didn't go on and on at me. He just started talking about spending more time at work so I could have a private tutor. That made me feel like I'd let him and Mum down. The worst thing about that was, I knew Dad wasn't trying to make me feel guilty--I was doing it on my own.

That was typically Dad. When I was little he used to take me to the adventure playground. There was this big climbing frame that was meant for older kids, but I used to go on it. I'd climb a lot higher than I really wanted to, until it was actually scary. I'd glance down and Dad would be watching me with his Dad face on--like he was afraid for me but he was holding back from doing anything about it. I had to find out for myself that sometimes what I thought was a good idea was actually a big mistake. It's the best way to learn things, but it's also really, really hard.

My brother, Al, was his usual sympathetic self. I mean, whole seconds went by without him mentioning my bad grade. He was loving it that his big sis was in the doghouse and he didn't let me forget it. That night he had loads of chances, because practically every telly program had something about Spain or Spanish on it.

Come next morning, I wasn't feeling too brilliant about myself, especially since I got to school late for homeroom. Also, I'd lost the button off the left epaulet of my coat. The strap kept flopping and it was really irritating. On my way across the schoolyard, I met Mr. Hart coming the other way. He grinned at me and said, "Casey! How you doing?"

I said, "Crap!"

I got three paces past him before . . . Oh, my G-a-a-d! I just said "crap" to a teacher! I was sure Mr. Hart was going to report me to the principal, but it didn't happen. All day I kept to myself. I put up a CLOSED sign on my forehead and Rottweilered anyone who came near me-except Helen, but then Helen was a good enough mate to know when to leave me alone.

The weather didn't do much to improve things. The sky was gray, the ground was damp and the air felt like a slug crawling over my skin. I kept on remembering the rocky patch Mum and Dad had gone through when Dad was working so much we hardly saw him. He'd really tried to make it better-not going to so many

conferences and leaving work earlier. Now he was going to start coming home late again so I could have a private tutor. That would means rows again, and the awful silences when Mum and Dad weren't talking--and it would be my fault.

By the time last lesson came--English--I felt like the pits. I didn't register much of the lesson, but every time someone laughed, I thought they were laughing about me. I went into this dark fantasy about me, Mum and Dad in the principal's office, and the principal saying, "I'm afraid her work really isn't up to scratch. I think she should be transferred to a less demanding section."

I don't know when I started crying. I heard this tapping noise, and when I looked down, I saw tears dropping onto my poetry book. When the bell went I didn't get out of my chair. I buried my face in a tissue like I was blowing my nose.

Helen said, "You coming?"

"In a minute. I'll catch you up."

When the last kid left the room I sighed with relief, because I was alone.

Only I wasn't. Mr. Hart was still there. He said, "Casey?"

Meet the Author

Andrew Matthews lives in Reading, England, with his wife, Sheena, and their cats. After a career as a high school English teacher, he became a full-time writer in 1994. Since then he has written more than 50 books.

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