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Those Kids from Fawn Creek Hardcover – March 8, 2022
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Every day in Fawn Creek, Louisiana, is exactly the same—until Orchid Mason arrives. From Erin Entrada Kelly, the winner of the Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe and a Newbery Honor for We Dream of Space, this contemporary school story set in small-town Louisiana is about friendship, family, deception, and being true to yourself and your dreams.
There are twelve kids in the seventh grade at Fawn Creek Middle School. They’ve been together all their lives. And in this small factory town where everyone knows everything about everyone, that’s not necessarily a great thing.
There are thirteen desks in the seventh-grade classroom. That’s because Renni Dean’s father got a promotion, and the family moved to Grand Saintlodge, the nearest big town. Renni’s desk is empty, but Renni still knows their secrets; is still pulling their strings.
When Orchid Mason arrives and slips gracefully into Renni’s chair, the other seventh graders don’t know what to think. Orchid—who was born in New York City but just moved to Fawn Creek from Paris—seems to float. Her dress skims the floor. She’s wearing a flower behind her ear.
Fawn Creek Middle might be small, but it has its tightly knit groups—the self-proclaimed “God Squad,” the jocks, the outsiders—just like anyplace else. Who will claim Orchid Mason? Who will save Orchid Mason? Or will Orchid Mason save them?
Newbery Medal and Newbery Honor winner Erin Entrada Kelly explores complex themes centered on family, friendships, and staying true to yourself. Those Kids from Fawn Creek will enchant fans of Thanhhà Lai’s Inside Out & Back Again and Rebecca Stead’s The List of Things That Will Not Change.
From the Publisher
From School Library Journal
“’A stranger comes to town and changes everything’ is likely a story first told by cave dwellers. In Those Kids From Fawn Creek, Erin Entrada Kelly makes this trope feel brand-new by the sheer power of her narrative voice. Her trick is straightforward prose. She is deceptive in her simplicity. And she is working at the top of the middle grade children’s literature game. . . . Her narrative unfolds slowly in chapters that alternate between different kids’ perspectives. . . . [Kelly] asks us to consider not just how we see ourselves, but also how we treat one another.”
— New York Times Book Review
“Small-town life for the twelve seventh graders of Fawn Creek, Louisiana, gets turned upside down . . . when new student Orchid Mason arrives . . . Kelly has created a strong ensemble cast of students . . . with realistic problems rooted in family life, friendship, and school. Having grown up pigeonholed into expected roles, how can they fit in while following their own passions? . . . An emotionally resonant story about authenticity and belonging.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“In this uplifting small-town novel about friendship and identity, Newbery winner Entrada Kelly realistically captures the complex hierarchies of middle school. . . . Told by alternating narrators who each confess to feeling confined by unrealistic expectations and preconceived roles, this contemporary novel, timely in themes of self-acceptance and bullying, builds on the experiences of the author’s childhood to create a raw, real exploration of belonging that’s also sweetly hopeful.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Fawn Creek, Louisiana, is such a small town that there are only twelve students in seventh grade. . . . These dynamics are shaken up, however, with the arrival of Orchid. . . . Kelly does a brilliant job . . . . Carefully constructed protective public shields fall away as the various characters pop into fully realized 3-D and realign themselves with family and friends. . . . Orchid is the . . . a borderline magical character who appears in town and effects startling change. The novel’s hopeful denouement is entirely earned.” — Horn Book (starred review)
“Fawn Creek . . . is a tiny, tight-knit company town in Louisiana. The seventh graders . . . have their cliques and are used to living within those confines. . . . Then, in floats Orchid Mason . . . She voices unasked questions, offers different perspectives, and refuses to be pigeonholed. . . . Newbery medalist Kelly has captured the middle-school mindset, with its attendant anxieties, dreams, and hopes. . . . Another gem in the crown of Erin Entrada Kelly.” — Booklist (starred review)
“An outsider inspires twelve kids from a sleepy Louisiana town to see their inner strengths and share their best with each other in Erin Entrada Kelly’s heartfelt and inspirational Those Kids from Fawn Creek. . . . Newbery Award-winner Kelly delivers another poignant and pitch-perfect middle-grade novel and lays bare quiet truths and universal childhood experiences with tremendous emotional resonance. . . . This powerful and thought-provoking story champions acceptance and serves as a bittersweet reminder to see the beauty in oneself as well as others.” — Shelf Awareness (starred review)
“Fawn Creek, LA, isn’t the kind of town where much changes, so the seventh grade students are instantly intrigued when Orchid arrives. . . . Kelly shakes up the idealized small-town story trope by showing the realities of life in a small, poor town, and the limitations the characters face as they worry that they might never see what else the world has to offer. . . . A well-told, relatable novel about misfits and outsiders that will ring true with middle grade readers.” — School Library Journal
- Publisher : Greenwillow Books (March 8, 2022)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062970356
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062970350
- Reading age : 8 - 12 years
- Grade level : 3 - 7
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.09 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #37,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Genre: Middle-Grade Fiction
Those Kids From Fawn Creek is the story of the seventh-grade classroom in Fawn Creek school in Louisiana. It is a tiny town with a small population. In this classroom, there are only 12 students. One day, a new kid arrives. Orchid Mason is this mysterious girl who makes everybody wonder where she came from. The kids especially Greyson Broussard and Dorothy Doucet are somehow amazed and thunderstruck by Orchid’s stories and experiences from traveling a lot. However, some of the students are not buying all these stories so they start to dig more into Orchid’s past. They want to know why does this girl disappear into the woods when there are no homes there! They just want to know her secrets and everything about her.
I picked this middle-grade story because I wanted something light and not too dense to read along with my other books. The story is absolutely charming. I loved the small-town atmosphere that the author created. The concept behind the new girl who comes and causes the change of routine was brilliant. The mysterious aura around her even fascinated me as a reader.
The story has many characters but the main POVs are the ones who cause the flow of the story most of the time. I liked the characters a lot. I think the author has made sure to keep them varied and different in their own ways. Yes, at the beginning of the book it might be a chore to keep track of them but as you progress in the story and get immersed that chore is gone.
I appreciate the author including some important themes and subjects in the story such as honesty, being true to yourself and others, friendship, bullying, and middle-grade school melodrama. The ending was awfully endearing. It makes you stop and think about the whole thing asking yourself what would you have done if you were in a similar situation. Let us also appreciate the beautiful cover which is a good representative of the story and the different characters.
Many thanks to the publisher HarperCollins Children's Books, Greenwillow Books, and NetGalley for providing me with an advance reader copy of this book.
I literally shouted when I saw that I’d gotten an ARC of this book; every single book I’ve read by Erin Entrada Kelly has made me feel a weird gratitude: I feel seen in a time slip sort of way.
This book is a prism, warm from the sun: the baker’s dozen of classmates are the spangles of light, each stands out in such a true way. As a writer, I envy this: Entrada Kelly does this not by making everyone quirky or over the top or deliberately interesting – I could point a finger at several of her contemporaries – but by being subtle and clever in her structure, her choice of who tells the story, and her judicious use of dialog.
Orchid Mason, whose sudden startling appearance starts this story, rings true: she’s the new girl in this stoplightless town, the outsider. But she’s credible in her attractiveness – Paris, NYC, a flower in her hair. As a city child, for an unsettled eighteen months or so, I had reason to imagine and mostly dread the idea of moving to somewhere small and rural, and nothing I’ve read in the forty years since brought that time so vividly back to me as the first few chapters of this novel.
That isn’t why this story happens. It’s not about a child whose dad had a falling out with his dad and started debating a move to either the tundra or a farm two miles down a dirt road about an hour from the nearest bookstore. But that’s part of why I love Erin Entrada Kelly’s books: they’re evocative – a word easily dismissed until you think of its deep roots in the same Latin word that also gives us voice, provoke, and vocabulary.
This is a story about the quiet magic that fills the small spaces between atoms and just does its job keeping everything ordinary until it takes a holiday and something extraordinary happens.
First there is the presence of names. A boy everyone calls Slowly. This pinched at me from the first usage, and I thought, even the kids who seem likeable don’t seem to notice how mean that is. A girl named Dorothy whose name doesn’t fit. Do we all feel that way, those of us whose names flap around us a little as kids, like too-big coats? Do we all wish for a nickname that isn’t an insult? I know kids who’ve changed their names as easily as changing their style and it’s amazing and wonderful and distressing all at once to know someone as Jesse and then wrap your head around them as Cassidy, and then as Coriander or Quinn or Statice. And why not?
This story takes naming and makes it something to question and examine: who gets to do the naming? Why do some names stick? Naming as a tool for control or definition.
One of the things Erin Entrada Kelly does better than anyone writing similar novels is to illuminate the side scrolling level after level of wobbly epiphanies that is middle school. Dorothy becomes Didi. Slowly becomes Lehigh.
We discover that liking football doesn’t make Max an oaf or a bully. We see the class structure that goes largely undiscussed in fiction for the same audience that is set in suburbia or cities play out among 13 kids. This book is one that makes me wish I had an 11 year old among my close acquaintance to read it with.
The sense of place – the heat, the insects, the seasonlessness of Fawn Creek – is almost tangible. I occasionally looked from the page and realized slowly where I was, home on a 20° morning with cold hands and feet, reading. It’s unusual to read like that, a rare treat.
I didn’t have the capacity to be honest with anyone the way Grayson and Dorothy – Didi – are with each other. Their friendship is at the heart why this book works for me. I love how credible their friendship is – it makes me realize how much better – by which I mean not plastic or processed or simple – overall the writing for middle graders is than it was in the 70s and 80s, at least in the US. Writers like Erin Entrada Kelly create self-contained worlds and fiercely real characters like those I found in Antonia Forrest, Noel Streatfeild, Ruth M Arthur, and so many other British writers who didn’t strip away everything complex, confusing, sad, or difficult – but they do so with an awareness of the tensions and struggles unique to a kid growing up here and now. I tried to think of anyone from the US who wrote novels for middle grade readers that weren’t fantasy or science fiction who managed this feat before about 2010 and came up with only Eleanor Cameron’s Julia Redfern books. Writers like Judy Blume or Norma Klein tackled the ideas, perhaps, but not with the richness of language or metaphor, and certainly not with the core assumption that their target audience would go look up a word or idea they didn’t know but were intrigued by.
Erin Entrada Kelly does it all. And she does it in a way that lets the reader see the characters the way they want to – we don’t get a lot of description that ties any one kid in this story to a physical characteristic, and for a reader who isn’t the white average-sized abled default, this may be a gift. I know as a child I never once saw myself as I looked in the mirror in the pages of anything I read that was written for children, and certainly not in likeable or interesting main characters.
I’m still typing here because I’m not ready to go on to the next book – my heart wouldn’t be in it because I could have happily read another 200 pages about Orchid, Grayson, Didi, and all the rest of them. I think this book deserves a spot on every longlist for children’s fiction prizes, and it’s only February. Please read this when it comes out – share it with kids who are comfortable read beyond the shallows, into the deep end.
I received this copy of Those Kids from Fawn Creek by Erin Entrada Kelly from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
A group of 7th graders in small town Fawn Creek, Lousiana, provide the setting for this story of friendship, family, and finding your own place in the world. Orchid Mason enters the 7th grade classroom in Fawn Creek, Louisiana — the other twelve students have known each other since birth. The students are spellbound as she talks about all the places she has been — New York, Paris, Thailand. But she doesn’t abuse her new found popularity — in fact, Orchid is nice, and inclusive, and happy to befriend anyone. And she makes a really great friend, helping to bring out the best in those she meets. However, some people are just not pleased with the situation, and when they find out something surprising about her past, they threaten to undo everything good that has come to be.
Good characters, good writing, and a somewhat fanciful, but positive, plot from this Newberry Award winning author.