Books by Nancy Hope Wilson

MOUNTAIN POSE by Nancy Hope Wilson
Released: April 26, 2001

The school year begins tenuously as 12-year-old Ellie Dunklee continues to grieve for her mother who died seven years ago and as her art-professor father seeks tenure. No one knows what to expect when Ellie's grandmother, Aurelia, dies suddenly and bequeaths her Vermont farm and a suitcase full of diaries to Ellie. Aurelia was regarded as a heartless woman, even disowned by her children, so the family cannot help but wonder what diabolical plan is behind Aurelia's gift to Ellie, but she delves into the diaries for the answer. They reveal a long history of abuse toward women and young children, inherited by each generation, including Aurelia. After learning the truth, the farm, once a place of trepidation for Ellie, becomes a symbol of peace and a setting to finally put the past to rest. This novel, like many of Wilson's others (Flapjack Waltzes, 1998, etc.), tackles family hardships and how they're overcome. The author astutely knows how to engage readers' empathy, and her use of diaries written in secret codes (which she explains in the author's note) will pique readers' interest. Sympathetic characters and sensitive storytelling will show readers that, if understood and forgiven, family cycles of abuse can be stopped. (Fiction. 10-13)Read full book review >
FLAPJACK WALTZES by Nancy Hope Wilson
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

Natalie, 12, and her parents are still coping with the death of her older brother, Jimmy, who was killed in a car accident two years before. Through memories, which Wilson entwines with Natalie's present in long italicized passages, and an elderly new neighbor, Herta (who experienced her own losses in the Holocaust), Natalie finally understands that she needn't be defined by Jimmy's death, but that he will always be a part of her. Natalie's biggest step, however, is in rekindling her friendship with Zheng, whose brother survived the crash. Wilson's subtle depiction of the gentle companionship of Herta and the ongoing distress of Natalie's parents enhances a touching story about those left behind. The subplots never overshadow Natalie's story, and the author adroitly avoids melodrama, keeping the emotions grounded and true. (Fiction. 9-12) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 8, 1997

Fourth-grader Albert has always been a little afraid of the Pine Manor Nursing Home, which he passes on the way home from school; the residents wave at him, but he just can't relax until he's well past it. When Mr. Spears—a school volunteer who helps Albert with his reading—has a stroke, he can no longer live alone, and moves into Pine Manor. Albert's wish to share his newfound ability to read with the elderly man helps him overcome his fear of the home. Wilson (Becoming Felix, 1996, etc.) pens a gentle story; the moment Albert reads to Mr. Spear, and finds the other residents listening in, is done without sentimentality. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 7-9) Read full book review >
BECOMING FELIX by Nancy Hope Wilson
Released: Oct. 18, 1996

From Wilson (Bringing Nettie Back, 1992, etc.), the story of Felix John Jasquith—JJ—his two great loves (his family's Massachusetts dairy farm and the clarinet he inherited from his grandfather), and his one great friend, Steven, a talented drummer. The boys' music teacher resolves to start a jazz band starring the two of them. But things are not good on the farm; it costs the family more to produce milk than they can sell it for, so JJ's dad has had to take a construction job in another town to make ends meet. JJ's mother does as much of the farm work as she can, while JJ's Gram keeps the house and cooks for the family. Most of the work falls on older brother, Ray, who hates the farm and plans to leave as soon as possible. JJ takes on extra work, too, at a terrible cost—giving up all other activities, including his music. Steven is angry enough at the development to end their friendship. At the news that his parents have decided to sell off the herd, a heartbroken JJ puts away his clarinet for good. How JJ faces his family's problems as well as his own is at the heart of this sensitive and beautifully told tale. It's also a sobering look at a once reliable way of life that is slowly vanishing. (Junior Library Guild selection) (Fiction. 9-13) Read full book review >
THE REASON FOR JANEY by Nancy Hope Wilson
Released: April 1, 1994

The author of Bringing Nettie Back (1992) weaves another thoughtful story exploring some of the same themes. After her divorce, Philly's mom took in Janey, a retarded adult institutionalized since childhood; now, with Janey learning job skills and making her own friends, Philly realizes that she's more a member of the family than Dad ever was. When Philly and her brother Boomer visit Dad, they eat takeout and watch basketball on TV; there's nothing to do, no interaction, no sign that Dad cares about them. Meanwhile, Philly follows up on Janey's fond memories of her father and discovers that he totally rejected Janey long ago. Unaware of this, Janey also seeks him out, using her new skills; and by the time Philly has defied her own father (who chooses this moment to exert some ill-considered authority) to find the missing Janey, she is distraught and burning with questions. How could Mom have married Dad? He was brilliant, Mom explains (like Philly; also, like the nerdy rival with whom Janey ends up working on a science project). And why has Mom given Janey a home? Mom loved her retarded older sister but her parents, as was the custom, sent her to an institution. The human dynamics in this easily read novel are portrayed with remarkable subtlety. While Boomer supports his sister, his accommodation with Dad is more easily made than hers. Philly repudiates both parents, then renegotiates relationships on the basis of what she's learned. An unusually compassionate, well- crafted, and entertaining novel. (Fiction. 9-12) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 30, 1992

Nettie and Clara become close friends when Nettie and her twin Patty make a visit to Clara at her grandmother's farm—where Clara and her five sibs enjoy the weeklong absences of their sour, fault-finding dad. Back in the suburbs for school, the two are inseparable; Clara yearns for an orderly home like the twins', where no one yells and the parents join in the laughter at dinnertime. Then Nettie has a stroke, and—after a long coma- -must relearn everything. During the agonizing waiting and the laborious road back, Clara grows in understanding of many things: Nettie loved the freedom of Clara's vibrant, disorderly family as much as Clara admired hers, for each family has strengths more important than its flaws; the friendship made gentle Patty a third wheel, but Clara and Patty are now building another sort of accord; there is real love behind Clara's dad's harsh faáade. In loving detail (somewhat autobiographical, hint the acknowledgments; the setting is the late 50's), Wilson portrays the dynamics of both families, laying a fine foundation for the many revelations and changing balances set in motion by Nettie's catastrophic collapse. A wise and appealing story from an unusually perceptive new author. (Fiction. 9-13) Read full book review >