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Nature Girl


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About the Author

JANE KELLEY lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter. She has enjoyed many summers in Vermont. This is her first book. You can visit her web site at


Gr 5-8-Megan, 12, finds herself plucked out of the hustle and bustle of New York City and dropped into the heart of Vermont. Her parents insist that she explore her artistic side and commune with nature rather than relying on electronic gadgets for entertainment. When they send her on a day hike with her sister and her sister's boyfriend, Megan has an argument with Ginia and decides to hike the Appalachian Trail, by herself, to Mount Greylock, where she plans to make amends with her best friend, Lucy. Her quest proves more difficult than she imagined as she encounters a bear, rain, makeshift shelters, bullies, hunger, thirst, and fear at night, but she overcomes all of them. As she and her dog cover the 30 miles, she analyzes her relationships, especially the tattered one with Lucy, whose mother has Hodgkin's disease. Megan has little knowledge of wilderness survival, but her tenacity carries readers through to the end. She has never been a doer, and she is rarely motivated by anything, but spending time alone, she realizes that she has been very selfish and begins to change her mind about how she lives her life. Her voice is believable and honest, and her journey is both a physical and emotional success. Kelley's debut novel is a modern-day adventure story that turns its back on the cell phone and portable GPS and gets to the heart of real survival.-Delia Carruthers, Roxbury Public Library, Succasunna, NJ Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Megan's parents have dragged her to Vermont for the summer, hoping she will embrace nature and art, but the bratty 11-year-old is furious to be trapped in the country. "You don't know how I'm suffering. Nobody does. Nobody cares," Megan tells her friend Lucy, who couldn't come-because her mother has Hodgkin's lymphoma. When Megan gets lost on a hike, she becomes inspired to hike the Appalachian Trail to where Lucy is staying. Along the way she confronts her own insecurities, which take the form of a "yucky voice" in her head, and discovers her inner strength, as well as compassion for Lucy. Readers may be put off by Megan's histrionics, but debut author Kelley mostly plays them for laughs (further amplified in scribbly cartoons), as when Megan nabs the family's emergency cell phone to call Lucy ("I almost cried when I saw its shiny surface. You won't believe this, but practically everything else in Vermont is made of cloth or pottery or wood"). Megan's emotional growth is mostly satisfying as she conquers both the mountain and her own weaknesses. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

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