Books by Audrey Couloumbis

NOT EXACTLY A LOVE STORY by Audrey Couloumbis
Released: Dec. 11, 2012

"Not exactly a perfect story. But it comes pretty close. (Fiction. 13 & up)"
A late-night phone call turned bad…turns good. Read full book review >
LEXIE by Audrey Couloumbis
Released: May 24, 2011

"This tender, realistic tale might go a long way toward soothing the doubts of many children who are dealing with similarly trying situations. (Fiction. 9-12)"
Quietly and ever so gently, Couloumbis explores the topics of divorce and remarriage and how they affect the children involved. Read full book review >
JAKE by Audrey Couloumbis
Released: Sept. 28, 2010

Ten-year-old Jake's holiday season gets off to an inauspicious start when his widowed mom slips on the ice in a mall parking lot before Christmas and has to be hospitalized. Shortly thereafter the paternal grandfather he hardly knows and little remembers comes to the rescue from out of town and into Jake's life. Potentially making matters worse is his grandfather's boon companion, the "nightmare dog" Max. Jake—and readers—need not fear, though. A warm, caring gem of an older next-door neighbor who has always been there for the family proves more nurturing than ever, and assorted family members and friends also leap into the fray to help with Jake's care. Gradually the gruff exterior of ex-Marine Granddad melts away, revealing the loving softie he's always been, and boy and grandfather—and dog—come to understand each other and bond. This is a sweet story, with the sort of kind, supportive people young readers should know in life as in literature. Narrator Jake's a good kid, though at times his self-awareness seems beyond his years. Pleasant and satisfying. (Fiction. 9-12)Read full book review >
WAR GAMES by Audrey Couloumbis
Released: Oct. 27, 2009

When the Nazis take over their small town in 1941 Greece, 12-year-old Petros and his family must keep a dangerous secret: The children, born in America, would be targeted by the Germans, though it is never made clear exactly why. Although Petros asks his father, "Why is it so bad to be American?" the answer is elided, keeping readers as mystified as Petros himself. When the Nazi commander comes to live in their house and a cousin active in the underground returns to town, the tension becomes palpable. Based on Akila Couloumbis's (husband of co-author Audrey) life, this understated novel puts readers right in the middle of a Nazi occupation, with little movie-style high drama but a sure sense of what it was really like—the desire to get on with everyday life, the unease, the secrets and the quiet acts of defiance in the face of life-threatening circumstances. A fine introduction to an important aspect of World War II and to the spirit of resistance the times required. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
LOVE ME TENDER by Audrey Couloumbis
Released: April 22, 2008

Matriarchal relationships form the focus of this predictable but big-hearted story by the author of the Newbery Honor award-winning Getting Near to Baby (1999). Thirteen-year-old Elvira's family is all shook up when her father, a former Elvis impersonator, lights out for Las Vegas after a fight with her pregnant mother, Mel. Then a cryptic phone message leads Mel to take Elvira and her little sister on their own road trip, to check up on Mel's estranged mother and sister. When the three generations of Steel Magnolias come together for the first time, much scrapping and secret-telling precede a hopeful truce. Meanwhile, Daddy proves he ain't a hound dog by returning home and promising to retire his jeweled jumpsuit for good. The happy ending is never in doubt, but this is part of the novel's charm. Couloumbis's rich, realistic dialogue between mothers, daughters and sisters will induce both laughter and sniffles in middle-grade fans of Kimberly Willis Holt and Catherine Murdock. As sweetly sappy and touching as the song it's named for. (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
MAUDE MARCH ON THE RUN! by Audrey Couloumbis
Released: Jan. 23, 2007

After their adventures in The Misadventures of Maude March (2005), 12-year-old Sallie and her older sister Maude try to settle down into quiet, ordinary lives, hoping not to be discovered as outlaws. Maude does little beyond waiting tables, going to church and hanging out at home. Their lives are so quiet that Sallie tells Maude, "You couldn't have laid any lower if you had set up housekeeping in a rabbit burrow." But it's hard to live down a reputation for entering every door "with teeth bared, guns drawn, and coattails flapping in an unnatural gust of wind." Maude is found out and arrested, along with another notorious outlaw, the Black Hankie Bandit. A jailbreak ensues, and soon the girls are off on a new series of adventures in the old West. Here again are all of the qualities that made its predecessor such fun: old-fashioned storytelling, humor, rollicking adventure and heroines to root for. A natural for reading aloud. (maps) (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 27, 2005

"Some days it isn't even a good idea to get out of bed," muttered Aunt Ruthie as she stepped out of the mercantile. Just then, a bullet hits her in the heart and kills her, leaving 11-year-old Sallie and 15-year-old Maude orphans once again. Soon thereafter, the sisters are headed west, about to live the adventures Sallie had read about in her dime novels. They are involved in a bank robbery, struck by a headless rattlesnake, attacked by a mountain lion and forced to be on the run when wanted posters featuring "Mad Maude" begin appearing in the newspapers. What a pleasure to read something just for the sheer fun of the storytelling. Sallie's fresh and feisty voice, girls dressed as boys, an outlaw with a heart of gold, adventure and humor add up to great family entertainment. (Fiction. 9+)Read full book review >
SUMMER’S END by Audrey Couloumbis
Released: May 1, 2005

In the summer of 1965, Grace's brother Collin is growing his hair long, reading Johnny Got His Gun and becoming involved in anti-war protests. When he torches his draft card, his father puts his belongings out on the front porch, effectively disowning him. Collin heads to Canada; his father wonders if he can hold up his head in town anymore; Grace's mother is caught in the middle; and Grace's primary concern is that her 13th birthday party won't happen now. Couloumbis traces the ripple effects of Collin's action throughout Grace's extended family and expertly navigates the ebb and flow of family relationships in a time of stress. Grace's journey from self-absorption to empathy is well drawn, as is the family drama in which each character changes in a realistic way, and hope proves to be made of "really tough stuff if it was still able to draw breath around here." A strong Vietnam War-era and coming-of-age story. (Fiction. 11+)Read full book review >
SAY YES by Audrey Couloumbis
Released: May 1, 2001

A New York City preteen's world turns suddenly scary when her stepmother goes missing. Will Sylvia turn up, or is she gone forever with her latest boyfriend? Casey isn't sure at first, but as days go by, her desperation grows, leaving her vulnerable to the overtures of the building super's teenage foster son, Paulie. Paulie dispenses savvy advice and lends a genuinely sympathetic ear, but also turns out to have an ulterior motive—he's looking for a younger confederate to help him rob a certain old lady. Reluctantly, Casey goes along, but not only does the ensuing emotional price prove almost overwhelming for her, Paulie gets a savage beating when his foster father finds the stolen money. Then a predatory gypsy, who discovers that Casey's alone, arrives to crank up the level of anxiety another notch. Couloumbis (Getting Near To Baby, 1999, Newbery Honor), in perfectly cast characterization, pairs two young people here who aren't as tough or smart as they think they are—but who come through for each other in the pinch. Both also find unlooked-for allies when the going gets too tough—most notably Sylvia's levelheaded, large-hearted mother Fran, who sweeps in protectively as soon as she gets wind of what's happened, and then consoles Casey with the insight that Sylvia's not self-centered or evil, just weak, not perfect, but good. And that turns out to be enough, for when Sylvia ultimately does come back, remorseful but willing to take up where she left off, Casey's anger is sharp, but soon spent. The author tellingly communicates Casey's growing fear and Paulie's underlying fragility and leaves thoughtful readers plenty to chew over with this convincing portrait of young people learning how to make choices. (Fiction. 11-13)Read full book review >
GETTING NEAR TO BABY by Audrey Couloumbis
Released: Oct. 1, 1999

Couloumbis's debut carries a family through early stages of grief with grace, sensitivity, and a healthy dose of laughter. In the wake of Baby's sudden death, the three Deans remaining put up no resistance when Aunt Patty swoops in to take away 12-year-old Willa Jo and suddenly, stubbornly mute JoAnn, called "Little Sister," in the misguided belief that their mother needs time alone. Well-meaning but far too accustomed to getting her way, Aunt Patty buys the children unwanted new clothes, enrolls them in a Bible day camp for one disastrous day, and even tries to line up friends for them. While politely tolerating her hovering, the two inseparable sisters find their own path, hooking up with a fearless, wonderfully plainspoken teenaged neighbor and her dirt-loving brothers, then, acting on an obscure but ultimately healing impulse, climbing out onto the roof to get a bit closer to Heaven, and Baby. Willa Jo tells the tale in a nonlinear, back-and-forth fashion that not only prepares readers emotionally for her heartrending account of Baby's death, but also artfully illuminates each character's depths and foibles; the loving relationship between Patty and her wiser husband Hob is just as complex and clearly drawn as that of Willa Jo and Little Sister. Lightening the tone by poking gentle fun at Patty and some of her small-town neighbors, the author creates a cast founded on likable, real-seeming people who grow and change in response to tragedy. (Fiction. 11-13) Read full book review >