PHOENIX UPSIDE DOWN by Elizabeth Scarboro


Age Range: 9 - 12
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 Feeling displaced after her family's move to Arizona, a fourth grader finds the friends she needs to get her past the rough spots, in this graceful story from the author of The Secret Language of the SB (1990). It's blisteringly hot, her pet rat Spotsey dies as a result of the trip, and Jamie has to start her new school before she can even bring herself to unpack. Although one classmate, Elise, is willing to sit with her at recess, and she forms a surprising friendship with Celia, an elderly neighbor, Jamie soon becomes withdrawn and distracted, and the quality of her schoolwork takes a serious slide. She isn't the only one having trouble adjusting: Her younger sister, Rachel, though outwardly serene, starts sleepwalking. Jamie's problems in school come out in a parent- teacher conference, Celia falls ill but gives and receives comfort from her bed, and Jamie and Elise test their friendship with a spat before tensions ease. That plot may follow a predictable path, but in taking the characters down it, Scarboro exhibits an uncommon ability to acquaint readers with these folk, through small incidents or in a few lines of dialogue. The sisters Jamie and Rachel talk freely with one another, and their rare friendship may be the most important one here, in a story that is sparely told but rich in feeling. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-670-86335-1
Page count: 133pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1996