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About the Author

Books have always been a part of Wendelin Van Draanen's life. Her mother taught her to read at an early age, and she has fond memories of story time with her father, when she and her brothers would cuddle up around him and listen to him read stories.

Growing up, Van Draanen was a tomboy who loved to be outside chasing down adventure. She did not decide that she wanted to be an author until she was an adult. When she tried her hand at writing a screenplay about a family tragedy, she found the process quite cathartic and from that experience, turned to writing novels for adults. She soon stumbled upon the joys of writing for children. Feedback from her readers is Van Draanen's greatest reward for writing. "One girl came up to me and told me I changed her life. It doesn't get any better than that," she said. Van Draanen hopes to leave her readers with a sense that they have the ability to steer their own destiny--that individuality is a strength, and that where there's a will, there's most certainly a way. Wendelin Van Draanen is the winner of the 1999 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Children's Mystery Book for Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief and lives with her husband and two sons in California.

Reviews

"Two distinct, thoroughly likable voices emerge in this enticing story, relayed alternately by a pair of eighth-graders," said PW in a starred review. "This novel is a great deal larger than the sum of its parts." Ages 10-14. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"Van Draanen has another winner in this eighth-grade 'he-said, she-said' romance."
-School Library Journal, Starred review

"We flipped over this fantastic book."
-The Chicago Tribune

"Delightful! Delicious! And totally teen." -- BookPage "With a charismatic leading lady kids will flip over, a compelling dynamic betweenthe two narrators and a resonant ending, this novel is a great deal larger than the sum of its parts." -- Publishers Weekly, Starred review

Gr 6-9-Van Draanen has another winner in this eighth-grade "he-said, she-said" romance told in alternating chapters by two teens who describe how their feelings change about themselves and each other. The first time Juli Baker saw Bryce Loski, she flipped. The first time he saw her, he ran. That was in second grade. Not much changes until eighth grade, when Juli's enthusiastic infatuation wanes just as Bryce's begins to kick in. Like the author's intelligent, gutsy, quirky heroine Sammy Keyes, Juli is fresh, distinctive, and different. After raising chickens for a science-fair experiment, she can't bear to part with "her girls," and begins an egg business. When she learns that Bryce, fearful because her yard is so unclean, has been throwing out the free eggs she has been giving his family for two years, she is devastated and begins to see him in a new light. At the same time, Bryce learns that Juli's family's devoted care of her mentally challenged uncle is what makes them seem poor. Right from the upside-down chick on the book's cover, there's lots of laugh-out-loud egg puns and humor in this novel. There's also, however, a substantial amount of serious social commentary woven in, as well as an exploration of the importance of perspective in relationships. Well-rounded secondary characters keep subplots rolling in this funny, fast-paced, egg-cellent winner.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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