A Talent for Trouble
A Talent for Trouble
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Annotation: Eleven-year-old Alice Mistlethwaite persuades her boarding school friends, Jesse and Fergus, to set out on an off-the-grid adventure in which they face storms, illness, injury, and international jewel thieves.
Catalog Number: #199139
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 258 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-328-58078-4
ISBN 13: 978-1-328-58078-8
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2019001086
Dimensions: 22 cm
Language: English
School Library Journal
Gr 46 It's been four years since Alice Mistlethwaite's mum died. Her father Barney is an unreliable struggling actor who disappears for long periods of time, leaving her Aunt Patience to sell their home in the English countryside and send Alice to Stormy Loch, a boarding school in Scotland. At Stormy Loch everyone has a Talent, ranging from art to running. They have Challenges starting with the First Day Challenge, and all actions have Consequences. Alice makes friends with Jesse, a rule follower and map reader who she meets on the train, and Fergus, a rule breaker who is dealing with family troubles of his own. The three work as a team for the Great Orienteering Challenge but stray off course when a mysterious message from Alice's father leads them into a dangerous mission involving international criminals and a chase on a remote island. While much of the story feels timeless, mentions of cell phones and computers make this a contemporary adventure. VERDICT Readers will enjoy accompanying Alice and her friends on this fast-paced adventure. Sarah Polace, Cuyahoga Public Library System, OH
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Four years after her mother's death, Alice faces another wrenching change: her aunt Patience sells their idyllic English home, where the 11-year-old spends her days writing stories, and sends her niece to Stormy Loch, a Scottish boarding school that fosters independence and discovering one's talent. There Alice befriends two boys, Jesse and Fergus. While each of them is less than whole, they all become stronger during their sometimes-harrowing exploits. Alice repeatedly attempts to contact her distant, unreliable father, and in the final chapters, she and her friends secretly travel over land and sea to meet him on a remote Scottish island. Intermittently, the narrator pauses the storytelling to offer readers a different perspective (Aunt Patience's "secret wish to help Alice live as passionately as she wrote"), a hint of what's to come ("at least two betrayals, and a few lies, and a couple of near-death experiences"), or a helpful warning ("Please never, ever try at home what Alice did next"). In this well-crafted chapter book, the early scenes on the overnight train to Scotland and in the idiosyncratic school are as riveting as the later adventures atop the castle and in the wild. A rewarding novel with distinctive settings, well-drawn characters, and a satisfying conclusion.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (11/1/19)
Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal (11/1/19)
Reading Level: 4.0
Interest Level: 4-7
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.4 / points:11.0 / quiz:Q77637
Lexile: 820L
Guided Reading Level: D


Goodbye, Cherry Grange

IMAGINE A HOUSE, in a garden. The paint is flaking and the chimney is cracked and the uncut grass is wild. But ignore all that. Look here instead, at the giant wisteria with a vine as thick as your arm, its purple flowers dripping against the old stone wall. Look at the swing hanging from that ancient oak, those cherry trees planted in a circle around the house. One of the trees is so close to a window that in summer, when it fruits, the girl who lives here can reach out to pick the cherries.
      Imagine that--picking cherries from your bedroom window!
      The house, Cherry Grange, was named for the trees. A man called Albert Mistlethwaite built it over a hundred years ago when he came home from a war, and his family has lived here ever since.
      That's a lot of cherries, and pies, and cakes, and pots of jam.
      We'll go inside now. Do you see those pale rectangles on the hall floor, those other pale rectangles on the walls? They were made by rugs and pictures, but those have gone now, along with all the furniture. There's nothing left but dust and sunlight.
      Let's move on! Here is the kitchen--and here is the family, finishing breakfast.
      Small, pale eleven-year-old Alice sits cross-legged on the counter with her nose in a book, tracing the words with her finger as she reads, chewing the end of one of her stiff dark braids. Her father, Barney (you may have seen him once on television), stands drinking coffee by the window with his back to the room, while his older sister, Alice's aunt Patience, in paint-spattered overalls, dries crockery at the sink.
      The last of the Mistlethwaites, in their natural habitat. Take a good look--you'll not see this again. For the house is sold, and today they are moving out.

Excerpted from A Talent for Trouble by Natasha Farrant
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.

A girl determined to follow her dream persuades two friends to join her for an off-the-grid adventure that becomes a survival story as they confront storms, illness, injury, and a gang of international jewel thieves. Desperate to meet up with her unpredictable father, quiet Alice persuades two friends to abandon their boarding school's orienteering exercise and head for a remote, inaccessible island. As they confront storms, illness, injury, and a gang of international jewel thieves, the quest tests their courage and loyalty and strengthens the bonds of friendship. Readers will cheer the runaways on, laugh with them at their foibles, and share Alice's pleasure in overcomingthe obstacles that stand in her way. This combination adventure, school story, and family story will delight fans of all three genres.

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