Quicksand Pond
Quicksand Pond
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Annotation: Twelve-year-old Jessie spends the summer with her family on Quicksand Pond, a New England vacation spot, where she develops a star-crossed friendship with independent Terri, and meets a reclusive old lady whose cconnection to a murder that took place decades ago still informs her present--and affects Terri in ways that Jessie gradually comes to understand the more time they spend together.
Catalog Number: #144640
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Atheneum
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 240 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-481-47222-4
ISBN 13: 978-1-481-47222-7
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2016009707
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
During a six-week visit with her family to a seaside Rhode Island town with a "hidden, half-forgotten" pond, preteen Jessie takes to rafting with local girl Terri. Terri's father is abusive and her family as a whole is subject to not-always-justified suspicion. This atmospheric novel is full of well-developed characters whose lives are informed by slowly revealed secrets from the past.
Kirkus Reviews
A summer beside Quicksand Pond on Rhode Island's coast transforms a reluctant 12-year-old white girl. When Jessie arrives at her family's rental cottage, she's in "a separatist mood." Immediately drawn to the pond, Jessie's content to stand, "breathing in the place, listening and watching." Discovering an abandoned raft, Jessie explores on her own until she encounters Terri, also white, a local outcast with an abusive, dead-end father. Bonding quickly, Jessie and Terri spend quiet days on the raft. Terri tells Jessie about the boys who disappeared in the pond and the family murdered years before whose surviving child, Henrietta, is now an elderly woman still living in the big house by the pond. Indeed, Henrietta stealthily watches Terri and Jessie using the raft she built as a child. When Terri's suspected of stealing Jessie's father's laptop, Jessie adamantly defends her friend, but after Terri's blamed for setting a fire in Henrietta's garage, where the girls had borrowed some tools to repair the raft, Jessie's support for Terri wavers. Unfolding slowly in simple, quiet prose, this sensitive, compelling story alternates between Jessie's present experiences and Henrietta's befuddled memories until they collide in a disturbing, pivotal climax. A suspenseful, realistic, finely crafted story exploring friendship, trust, and how we judge others. (map) (Fiction. 10-13)
Publishers Weekly
Echoing the themes and tone of Lisle-s Newbery Honor-winning Afternoon of the Elves, this loss-of-innocence novel traces the delicate friendship built between two girls from different backgrounds. Irritated with everyone in her family, 12-year-old Jessie Kettel is in a -separatist mood- when she arrives at a rented Rhode Island cottage for summer vacation. While her father and siblings find other ways to occupy their time, she goes off by herself to the nearby pond, where she finds a dilapidated raft and later meets Terri, a local girl. Terri is eager to help Jesse fix the craft, and as the girls make repairs, Jessie becomes unsettled by Terri-s stories about the downfall of her family, her destructive home life, and her dreams to get away. With characteristic subtlety and enormous compassion, Lisle expresses complex family and social conflicts while showing how Jessie-s understanding of the world and her newfound friend expand, even as the views of those around her remain narrow. Terri-s struggle against oppression and prejudice will have as profound an impact on readers as it does on Jessie. Ages 10-up. Agent: Gina Maccoby, Gina Maccoby Literary. (May)
School Library Journal
Gr 4&11;6&12;Tween Jessie travels with her English professor father and her siblings to the titular Rhode Island setting for a summer away from her workaholic lawyer mother. Tired of her "perfect" older sister and bug-loving younger brother, she prefers to explore nature by herself. Jessie discovers an abandoned raft and soon meets the nearly feral Terri, who divulges all the town gossip, except for that about her own abusive father. The partnership of clandestine raft repair seals the friendship and introduces the raft's original owner, Miss Cutting, a dementia patient who is unable to leave her home, who secretly watches the girls with envy from the mansion where her parents were murdered when she was a child. Jessie and Terri have a falling-out when Jessie accidentally insults the wild child by repeating town chatter. When Miss Cutting's home is robbed and her garage set on fire, adults press Jessie to incriminate her friend, who has been camping out rather than living at home. Miss Cutting's mental meshing of past and present, along with the robbery and fire, leads her to recall details about the long-ago murder. Meanwhile, Terri is facing juvenile detention and Jessie must decide if she will speak up. The author's writing, as always, is filled with rich imagery and atmospheric descriptions. Readers will come away feeling as if they have visited the locale themselves. VERDICT This complex tale is aptly bittersweet and invites reflection about justice, judgment, and loyalty. A strong purchase for fans of layered, realistic mysteries and drama.&12;Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
A summer beside Quicksand Pond on Rhode Island's coast transforms a reluctant 12-year-old white girl. When Jessie arrives at her family's rental cottage, she's in "a separatist mood." Immediately drawn to the pond, Jessie's content to stand, "breathing in the place, listening and watching." Discovering an abandoned raft, Jessie explores on her own until she encounters Terri, also white, a local outcast with an abusive, dead-end father. Bonding quickly, Jessie and Terri spend quiet days on the raft. Terri tells Jessie about the boys who disappeared in the pond and the family murdered years before whose surviving child, Henrietta, is now an elderly woman still living in the big house by the pond. Indeed, Henrietta stealthily watches Terri and Jessie using the raft she built as a child. When Terri's suspected of stealing Jessie's father's laptop, Jessie adamantly defends her friend, but after Terri's blamed for setting a fire in Henrietta's garage, where the girls had borrowed some tools to repair the raft, Jessie's support for Terri wavers. Unfolding slowly in simple, quiet prose, this sensitive, compelling story alternates between Jessie's present experiences and Henrietta's befuddled memories until they collide in a disturbing, pivotal climax. A suspenseful, realistic, finely crafted story exploring friendship, trust, and how we judge others. (map) (Fiction. 10-13)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* When Eddie Carr was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, the family dairy folded, the family barn burned to the ground, and the family name, too, suffered irreparable damage. In fact, five decades later, 12-year-old Terri, Eddie's great-granddaughter, is still paying the price, living at the west end of Quicksand Pond with her abusive, alcoholic father. But Jessie Kettel, a vacationing outsider, hasn't heard the rumors. And when a mysterious old raft appears at the water's edge, the two girls work to repair it, developing a profound, if precarious, friendship. As town gossip and the Kettel family's judgment simmers in the background d long-misunderstood local Henrietta Cutting staggers into the foreground ssie comes to a most unsettling conclusion: the closer she gets to Terri, the closer she could be to unknowable danger. Deftly navigating a diverse array of socioeconomic statuses and the discriminatory nature of the justice system, Newbery Honor Book author Lisle crafts a stirring story that raises crucial questions about the assumptions we make, the distances we keep, and the vulnerable voices we often fail to hear. As Lisle details Terri's determination to cease a vicious cycle, Henrietta's resolve to remedy an unjust past, and Jessie's aching ambivalence between the cautionary advice of others and her own hard-won revelations, readers are sure to listen. Striking, enigmatic, and haunting all around.
Word Count: 55,445
Reading Level: 4.3
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.3 / points: 8.0 / quiz: 189211 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.4 / points:13.0 / quiz:Q71230
Lexile: 600L
Guided Reading Level: I
Quicksand Pond

ONE


There was always a lot of stuff when the Kettels traveled. They arrived that July in a car crammed with duffels and backpacks, beach towels and lawn chairs, fishing poles and board games, an outdoor grill, an espresso machine, two laptops, three smartphones, and a pair of high-powered binoculars for watching birdlife.

Their cottage, which was rented, looked sadly unprepared for this wealth of possessions.

"I see a clothesline out back," Jessie's father said in the silence after the motor shut down. "Therein lies hidden meaning."

"What meaning?" asked Jonathan from the rear seat.

Richard Kettel raised his black-rimmed glasses and massaged the tender sides of his nose. "The gods of good housekeeping are angry with us. Our summer palace is not equipped with a dryer."

"Ha, ha," said Jonathan. "There are no gods of good housekeeping. Dad made that up, right?" He turned to Jessie beside him, but she looked away.

Their father shook his head. "The washing machine is a relic from the Dark Ages."

"How do you know?" asked Jonathan.

"I hear voices wailing from the Great Beyond."

"I hear birds," Jonathan said, and they all sat still while a flock of bleating seagulls flapped by overhead.

"Looks like the roof is kind of falling off," Julia observed from the front seat, which she'd occupied, as if by divine right, the whole way from Pittsburgh. "There are chunks of wood all over the lawn."

"Lawn? Is that what that is?"

"It used to be one," Jonathan said. "It grew up, that's all."

"It grew up. Now I see." Their father took off his glasses and squinted. "There's probably no dishwasher, either. What is that thing on the front step?"

Everyone leaned forward. Something with a long neck was sitting outside the door.

"A toilet plunger?" Julia ventured. "That's what it looks like. And a bucket, I think, off to the side."

"I hoped I was going blind," said their father, a high school English teacher with a taste for gallows humor. "I hoped I'd gone mad and was having hallucinations."

"No," Julia said, "it's a plunger. Does that mean . . ."

"Fraud and deceit!" Richard Kettel yanked open the car door. He stepped out unsteadily, as if the ground were the deck of an oceangoing vessel. Well, they were near the sea, Jessie thought. Quite near, though not actually on it. "Rhode Island saltbox," the listing had read. "Short walk to the beach. Three bedrooms, two baths, bed linens supplied." They'd rented, sight unseen, for six weeks till the middle of August.

"I see something else!" Jonathan shouted. "Look, over there! I see a dragonfly, or it could be a moth, and now I'm looking at a whole mess of other things. See by the fence? Bugs!"

"Excellent," said their father from outside the car. "Just what we need."

At that moment Jessie bolted. She was out of the car in one jump, running away across the overgrown lawn. It wasn't only that she needed to get away, immediately, though that was certainly true. She'd spied something, a flicker of silvery water coming through tall reeds at the lawn's far end. She pushed her way through and arrived on a shore. Not the sandy ocean beach she'd expected, but the mud shore of a pond whose waters spread away from her, smooth and blue in the sun.

Cattails grew high all around the edges. Off to her right the pond slipped around a bend, as if more was there to be discovered. Across the way a single snow-white swan fed along a shadowed bank. Jessie let out her breath and for one perfect moment she felt happy. She felt like a swan herself, one that had just flown in from a perilous journey.

She was in a separatist mood that year, her twelfth, and in a state of irritation with everyone around her. She was irritated with her father because he looked at her with skeptical eyes and said things like "May I ask how you came to that conclusion?"

She was at odds with her older sister, Julia, because Julia was so pathetically nice to everyone. Whoever they were, whatever they said, Julia smiled and agreed.

"What is wrong with you?" Jessie demanded. "You didn't use to be this way."

"What way?" Julia asked.

"I don't know. So spineless."

"You shouldn't say things like that. It just makes you look ignorant," Julia replied.

The problem with Jessie's mother was that she worked night and day at her office in Pittsburgh. And that summer, thanks to their father dragging them off to practically the end of the earth (as Jessie had declared this New England beach town to be), she wouldn't possibly find time to visit.

"This is not the end of the earth," Jonathan had said.

"I just meant--"

"There can't be an end to the earth because the earth is round."

"I know it's round!"

"So why did you say . . ."

The trouble with her brother, Jonathan, was that he was six years old.

Jessie watched a second swan arrive to join the first across the pond. Hardly had it landed when a crunch of feet sounded behind her. A body crashed through the reeds. Julia. In all her splendor. Everyone stared at her wherever she went.

"It's only a pond," Julia said, coming up to stand beside her sister. "Where's the sea?"

Jessie pointed. "I think the beach must be down there."

Julia shaded her eyes. "Looks like miles away. Dad said it would be closer. He should've let Mom make the arrangements. He never gets things right."

Julia was beautiful, everyone said so. She had a heart-shaped face, unblemished skin, and chocolate-brown eyes with thick black lashes that curled up naturally at the ends. She would never in her life need a drop of mascara. A perfect stranger had stopped her on the sidewalk and asked, "Are you a model? . . . No? Well, you should be, my dear."

"Maybe it's shorter by the road," Jessie told her. "The real estate agents said we could walk to it."

"I think I'll drive," Julia said, which was not a boast. She was sixteen and had her license.

Julia didn't boast about herself. She'd become too polite. She'd thanked the perfect stranger for his compliment. She seemed oblivious to the boys who wolf-whistled on the street. When her computer literacy teacher, Mr. Clarke, invited her to go with him--as a student representative, he said--to a poetry reading upstate, Julia said it was because he admired her poems.

"Are you going to let her go?" Jessie had asked their mother.

"No."

"She'll be mad."

"I'm sure."

"She thinks she's a poet," Jessie said. "A serious poet."

Her mother looked amused. "Julia's new in her skin, so she's trying things out. She doesn't fully understand her effect on people."

"Oh, don't worry, she understands," Jessie had informed her. "She understands perfectly well. She just pretends not to."

Now, standing beside her sister, Jessie felt the pond, too, begin to fall under Julia's power. Its private gaze shifted from Jessie--short, with thick legs and brown, rabbity hair--to Julia, tall and dark and carelessly perfect.

Jessie picked up a large rock and heaved it into the water. Julia backed up and shrieked. "Why did you do that? I'm drenched! You are so impossible!" She huffed off toward the house.

The pond also seemed to retreat after this. The sun went behind a cloud. The swans rose off the water and flew away. The reeds took on a mean look around the water's edge and, removing their magical protection of a minute ago, allowed the sound of voices to come through.

"Just as I predicted, there's no clothes dryer in this house," Jessie heard her father say. "And of course no dishwasher."

"There's a washing machine, though," Jonathan's voice piped up cheerfully. "You said there wouldn't be, and there is, I saw it."

"What I said was, the washing machine would be from the Dark Ages. But I was wrong."

"You were?"

"It's from the French Revolution."

"What's the French Revolution?"

"A time of torture and beheadings. A time of madness and despair. A time of . . ."

Jessie stopped listening. Something was floating in the water off to her right. It was a wood platform of some kind. She saw rusted nails and a board's sawed-off edge. She bent and reached to draw it closer, but the platform bobbed away.

Behind her a car door slammed and the voices of her family broke through again.

Julia: "I can't get a signal on my cell phone."

Jonathan: "Let me see."

"Look. It's not working."

"I see one bar. Nope, now it's gone."

"Dad! There's no reception here."

"Well, call the police."

"Dad! What are we supposed to do? We're cut off."

"I saw something that looked like a telephone pole on the way in, with wires attached."

"But what about my laptop? It won't work either! No way there's Wi-Fi here."

"Such is life."

"What do you mean, 'such is life'? It might be your life, but it's not mine. I need to be in touch," Julia said, sounding more like her real self than she had in months.

"Jessie!" her father shouted. When she didn't answer at once, his voice rose anxiously. "Jessica Kettel, where have you gone?"

When she still didn't answer--the heavy wooden platform was bobbing closer again--her father cried out in greater alarm.

"Jessie! What's wrong? Answer me now!"

This time she shouted back. "It's okay, Dad, I'm right here. I'm coming and I'm perfectly fine."

Excerpted from Quicksand Pond by Janet Taylor Lisle
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

An ALA Notable Book
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2017

“Striking, enigmatic, and haunting all around.” —Booklist (starred review)
“A suspenseful, realistic, finely crafted story exploring friendship, trust, and how we judge others.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Newbery Honor winner Janet Taylor Lisle’s novel about a pivotal summer in two girls’ lives explores the convictions we form, the judgments we make, and the values we hold.


The pond is called Quicksand Pond.

It’s a shadowy, hidden place, full of chirping, shrieking, croaking life. It’s where, legend has it, people disappear. It’s where scrappy Terri Carr lives with her no-good family. And it’s where twelve-year-old Jessie Kettel is reluctantly spending her summer vacation.

Jessie meets Terri on a raft out in the water, and the two become fast friends. On Quicksand Pond, Jessie and Terri can be lost to the outside world—lost until they want to be found. But a tragedy that occurred many decades ago has had lingering effects on this sleepy town, and especially on Terri Carr. And the more Jessie learns, the more she begins to question her new friendship—and herself.


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