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The Shell House


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A moving tale of love and loss over two generations.

About the Author

As a child Linda Newbery was a secret writer, filling exercise books with stories which she hid in her wardrobe. Now she is a published author of over forty books, mainly children's and teenage fiction. She has been shortlisted for many prestigious literary prizes and has won the Costa children's book award. Linda lives in an Oxfordshire village and enjoys yoga, gardening, walking and the cinema.


Gr 10 Up-Fred Wright has been accepted to Wessex, a private boarding school, as its new star basketball player. Unfortunately, he has several things working against him. He's not an AB (Alumni Brat), he likes to break the rules, and he has a different attitude from his peers. The story is told through letters, lists, and even time-capsule entries, with narrative chapters added to help fill in the missing information. The school has its standard variety of characters: Noah, the class clown; Allison, the uptight rich girl; Sunday, an AB who would like to break out of the mold; and Mackenzie, the debutante who believes there is a conspiracy going on in the school and is right. The author spends most of the time developing the characters and very little on the plot. In fact, it is not until the last chapter that the plot is revealed, and readers are left with a cliff-hanger ending, but they won't be sure if it's worth the wait for the second installment in the series.-Kim Carlson, Monticello High School, IA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

A pitch-perfect tale of contemporary teenage life intertwines with an overly dramatic if occasionally moving account of a privileged youth's literally life-changing experiences in the First World War. The modern-day story centers on Greg, who, with his longtime best friend attending another school, comes into his own. He makes friends with Faith, a sheltered and religious girl he meets while exploring and photographing the grounds of Graveney Hall, the shell house of the title, the skeletal remains of a stately home ravaged by fire in 1917. Meanwhile, Greg's thoughts are increasingly occupied by the self-possessed Jordan, an accomplished athlete whose reserved ways hide a piercing intellect and whose friendship takes on a romantic cast. The other narrative thread concerns Edmund Pearson, heir to Graveney Hall and an aspiring poet, whose world has been rocked by two events: the Great War and even more significantly his passionate affair with a fellow soldier, Alex. Scenes of Edmund and Alex at the front are compelling, but when Edmund visits his family (whom he now perceives as stifling and shallow) the novel takes on a callow, sniping tone, as in this description of his intended fiance: "She had a way of looking at him from under her eyelashes, doe-eyed. Presumably she thought it was appealing." The melodrama of these later episodes stands in contrast to the wonder and compassion that illuminate the bulk of this book. Ages 12-16. (Aug.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"Powerful, challenging reading for older teens" * Sunday Mirror *
"Compelling . . . Elegiac, even literary" -- David Self * TES *
"Celevrly intertwines two stories and encompasses some big themes . . . Intelligent and perceptive" * Guardian *
"A novel to read, think about, and then read again" * Independent *
"[An] enjoyably meaty read . . . Newbery writes wonderfully" * Financial Times *

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