No Vacancy
No Vacancy
Perma-Bound from Publisher's Hardcover18.32
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Publisher's Hardcover14.41
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Annotation: With the help of her Catholic friend, an eleven-year-old Jewish girl creates a provocative local tourist attraction to save her family's failing motel.
Catalog Number: #218771
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 220 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-7730-6410-X
ISBN 13: 978-1-7730-6410-9
Dewey: Fic
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Eleven-year-old Miriam's life is in for a big change when she moves with her family from New York City to the tiny, upstate town of Greenvale, where her dad has bought a rundown motel. Can they revive it? Will Miriam even survive the summer? Luckily, she finds a good friend in Kate, whose Catholic upbringing contrasts with Miriam's Jewish heritage. At the town's abandoned drive-in theater, the girls see a woman's image in the torn screen and devise a questionable plan to modify it in order to attract visitors to Greenvale and, more to the point, to the motel and Kate's grandparents' diner. Their scheme works and business booms, but will the girls be found out? Debut author Cohen displays a knack for storytelling that makes this a thoughtful, engrossing, funny read. As the plot unfolds, Miriam explores culture, faith, tradition, hate, and near tragedy. Using Miriam's first-person voice, but including lots of dialogue, Cohen allows readers to closely follow Miriam and her family as they establish new relationships and find their place in the small town.
Horn Book
Eleven-year-old Miriam's family buys a motel in a tiny upstate New York town and moves there from Manhattan. When it becomes clear that the motel isn't as lucrative as her parents had hoped, Miriam (who is Jewish) and a Catholic friend successfully attract more visitors to the town by faking an apparition of the Virgin Mary on a local drive-in theater screen. This summer-in-a-small-town novel, with a mischief-based premise and an old-fashioned feel, includes plenty of exploration of how Miriam and her family fit into the larger community, particularly her interactions with Maria, the motel's Mexican immigrant housekeeper, who's trying to earn money for medical school; and Anton, a wheelchair user whose mother insists on seeking a miracle cure for his disability. Specific, accurate details of Jewish life are woven throughout; Miriam's status as one of the town's only Jews also leads to thoughtful reflections on her relationship with her Jewishness, as does an antisemitic graffiti incident at the motel.
Kirkus Reviews
Is it a bad thing when a Jewish girl fakes an apparition of the Virgin Mary?Miriam, a white, Jewish 11-year-old from Manhattan, is plunked into a ramshackle motel upstate when her father loses his job. Now she’s helping them turn the dilapidated old place into a functional business. But nobody has a reason to visit Greenvale, New York (population 514), so nobody stays in the motel. Miriam’s finally settling in—she’s made friends with the Mexican American hotel cleaner and with a white girl whose grandparents own the diner next door. It’s a little uncomfortable being in an apparently all-Catholic town, but Miriam just tells people she’s a vegetarian to avoid being served bacon. That’s normal, right? And it’s probably OK to encourage people to see the face of the Virgin Mary in a rust stain at the old drive-in. After all, it’s for a good cause: The flocking faithful bring business to the diner and motel. The gentle shenanigans that ensue progress like a predictably wholesome after-school special. An anti-Semitic act shakes Miriam and encourages her to be proud of her Judaism. A crisis brings the town together, and the local priest leads the townspeople to Miriam’s support. Disappointingly, a disabled character whose initial character development feels fairly complex is reduced at the end to a teachable moment.The protagonist’s character arc is encouraging, but alas, supporting characters come across as props. (Fiction. 8-10)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6 Miriam Brockman needs a miracle. Her family has relocated from New York City to a tiny (population 510) town in rural New York State. With no experience, they've purchased and plan to run a small motel. Upon arrival, they discover the motel is dilapidated and a fiscal disaster. The opportunity to create a miracle presents itself when newfound friend Kate gives Miriam a tour of the town. The 11-year-olds spot an oval rust stain resembling a woman with a halo on the screen of the abandoned drive-in theater. Kate thinks the shape looks like the Virgin Mary and uses a knife to add a crucifix-shaped slash next to it. It's not long before news of the religious image is picked up by the media and the town is teeming with visitors, many seeking their own religious experience. The girls realize their hoax has gotten out of hand but face a dilemma: The influx of tourists is a much-needed economic boon for the town, especially for the family's motel. Skillfully woven into the plot are details of Miriam's Jewish faithits rituals, history and the disturbing reality of anti-Semitism in today's world. A shocking act of vandalism against the hotel and a near tragedy involving Miriam's younger brother show the predominantly Christian community coming together to support the family despite their differences. VERDICT A leisurely paced, character-rich tale of family, religious faith, and the human need for the miraculous. Strongly recommended for middle grade collections. Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (8/1/20)
Horn Book (8/1/20)
Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal (9/1/20)
Word Count: 38,436
Reading Level: 4.6
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.6 / points: 6.0 / quiz: 511511 / grade: Middle Grades
Lexile: 750L
Guided Reading Level: T
Fountas & Pinnell: T

I watch the Shabbat candles flicker on the counter. At home, this is my favorite time of the week. But here, the candles feel like two eyes watching me, like they can tell what I did.

Kate told me about confession. She says some Catholics go every week, but her family goes once a year, around Easter. You go into a special room, like a closet, which is separated from another little room where Father Donovan sits, so they can hear each other but not see each other. It's supposed to be private and you don't have to say your name, but Kate says it's a little town and for sure he recognizes her voice.

I explained to her about Yom Kippur, when Jews fast and pray in synagogue all day, thinking about the bad things they did the past year and what they need to do to be a better person. We're supposed to ask forgiveness from the person we hurt. We don't confess to the rabbi, though.

I asked Kate if faking a Virgin Mary apparition is a sin you'd have to confess at confession.

"Yep," she said. "But luckily, Easter is nine months away."

Excerpted from No Vacancy by Tziporah Cohen
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.

Buying and moving into the run-down Jewel Motor Inn in upstate New York wasn't eleven-year-old Miriam Brockman's dream, but at least it's an adventure. Miriam befriends Kate, whose grandmother owns the diner next door, and finds comfort in the company of Maria, the motel's housekeeper, and her Uncle Mordy, who comes to help out for the summer. She spends her free time helping Kate's grandmother make her famous grape pies and begins to face her fears by taking swimming lessons in the motel's pool. But when it becomes clear that only a miracle is going to save the Jewel from bankruptcy, Jewish Miriam and Catholic Kate decide to create their own. Otherwise, the No Vacancy sign will come down for good, and Miriam will lose the life she's worked so hard to build.

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