Kaleidoscope Eyes
Kaleidoscope Eyes
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Annotation: In 1968, with the Vietnam War raging, thirteen-year-old Lyza inherits a project from her deceased grandfather, who had been using his knowledge of maps and the geography of Lyza's New Jersey hometown to locate the lost treasure of Captain Kidd.
Catalog Number: #5417300
Format: Paperback
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition Date: 2009
Pages: 264 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-440-42190-X
ISBN 13: 978-0-440-42190-0
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2008027345
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
The summer of 1968 provides a fertile backdrop for Bryant's verse novel about Lyza, her friends, and their hunt for Captain Kidd's lost treasure in a New Jersey neighborhood. While cleaning out her recently deceased, thrill-seeking grandfather's house, Lyza finds a plain envelope with her name on it. Inside are maps and vague clues about one last adventure that he saved for her. Lyza enlists her friends Malcolm and Carolann, "a tall, shy black guy and a small, hyperactive white girl," swearing them to secrecy. Their sneaking around leads to a grounding, which leads to more sneaking around. For a story involving pirate treasure, it takes awhile to pick up speed. The poetry format doesn't always seem purposeful, and the ending is implausible. However, the characters are endearing and the setting is vivid. The events of the small town filter into the teens' lives in realistic ways: Malcolm's older brother is drafted, Lyza's older sister is a hippie, and boys they know are killed in the war or come home changed forever.
Horn Book
Thirteen-year-old Lyza's grandfather dies, leaving behind clues to a treasure buried by Captain Kidd. In the midst of the Vietnam War, searching for the treasure in her New Jersey town gives Lyza and her friends some hope. The free-verse narration, steeped in 1960s culture and music, reflects Lyza's innocence and bewilderment as she navigates an uncertain reality. Reading list, websites.
Kirkus Reviews
When 13-year-old Lyza cleans her grandfather's attic and finds a bundle of papers marked "For Lyza Only," she's propelled into a modern-day search for pirates' treasure. After weeks of digging—and suffering bruised wrists, blistered fingers and fatigue—Lyza and her two best friends make an amazing discovery and become local celebrities. Set in 1968, with the Vietnam War, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix in the background, Bryant's novel-in-verse effectively weaves Lyza's narrative together with letters from Vietnam, Captain Kidd's pirate's log and an occasional poem that stands beautifully on its own. Lyza's kaleidoscope, a birthday present from her mother, who has walked out on the family, connects readers with the Beatles's "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," provides the volume's title and offers a perfect metaphor for a girl learning to see her world in new ways. Readers will fall under the spell of the delicious plot and race ahead to see if Lyza and her friends find buried treasure. The solid bibliography offers good resources for researching pirates, Vietnam and the '60s. A neat match with Gary Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars (2007) and Michael Kaufman's 1968 (2008). (author's note) (Historical fiction. 9-14)
School Library Journal
Gr 58 In this free-verse novel set during the Vietnam War era, 13-year-old Lyza Bradley lives with her professor father and hippie sister in Willowbank, NJ. Her mother deserted them two years earlier, a mystery that lingers in Lyza's thoughts. Cleaning out her recently deceased grandfather's house, the teen finds his legacy to heran envelope with clues to the location of Captain William Kidd's lost treasure. She enlists the help of her friends Malcolm and Carolann to locate and excavate the site. Against this story, Bryant inserts poems describing Lyza's family dynamics, racism, and the draft. This book offers a meaty adventure alongside coming-of-age reflections. As Lyza follows Gramps's maps, she examines the trickle of desegregation (Malcolm is African American), the impact of the war, and the way her family grounds and connects her. The story's format yields spare sensory memories that emerge with little reliance on dialogue and lengthy narration. The one shortcoming is the conclusion. Lyza has kept the treasure hunt a tremendous secret, and its final revelation is less dramatic than Bryant's buildup promised. Kaleidoscope Eyes invites readers to visit the recent past and experience its rich complexity. Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly

Growing up in New Jersey during the Vietnam War, 13-year-old Lyza has some battles of her own (“Whoever said 'the baby of the family/ gets all the sympathy'/ was clearly not/ the baby”). When her mother walked out, “our family began to unravel/ like a tightly wound ball of string.” Then Lyza's grandfather dies, leaving her a box filled with cryptic maps and clues, which she learns relate to the pirate treasure of Capt. William Kidd. Lyza and her best friends Carolann and Malcolm get to work locating—and then hiding—the treasure. Lyza's thoughtful narration in verse gives Bryant's (Ringside 1925) novel a strong sense of setting and reflects the teenager's conflicting emotions about adulthood: “I had to decide/ to stay safe in the harbor, like my father,/ or to push out to sea, like Gramps.” Her observations also betray an engaging sense of humor (Denise, her older sister, “has no interest in anything/ she can't smoke, wear, or sing”). Sincere and well-paced, with the backdrop of a tumultuous period in history, the story is not easily forgotten. Ages 9–13. (May)

Voice of Youth Advocates
In the summer of 1968, the town of Willowbank, New Jersey, is losing loved ones to the war in Vietnam. Thirteen-year-old Lyza is counting the days until school ends so she will not have to conform to the rules of segregation that separate her from her best friend, Malcolm. When LyzaÆs grandfather dies suddenly of heart failure, her family has the chore of cleaning out his house. In the dusty attic, Lyza discovers a folder labeled with her name and containing three maps that may lead to a lost treasure buried somewhere in Willowbank. With the help of Malcolm and Carolann, Lyza plots secret missions and spends sleepless nights digging in the grueling summer heat in hopes of finding the pirate's treasure. When LyzaÆs father becomes suspicious of her behavior, keeping their activities quiet becomes increasingly difficult. With creative detective work and a few white lies, Lyza and her friends eventually hit pay dirt and local fame. Bryant weaves an emotional novel in poems based on a true story of buried treasure. Tensions among families are drawn with heart-wrenching prose, and her depiction of segregation is flawless. Bryant uses simplistic verses that are just right, including lyrics from rock songs of the time, to convey the seriousness of the war and peopleÆs views on equality among blacks and whites. The characters are witty and well developed, with readers wanting to find out what happens next on LyzaÆs escapades in this well-written novel that will be an absorbing read especially for reluctant readers.ùLaura Panter.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 262-263).
Word Count: 32,346
Reading Level: 5.6
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.6 / points: 5.0 / quiz: 129943 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:7.4 / points:10.0 / quiz:Q46734
Lexile: 950L
Guided Reading Level: W
Fountas & Pinnell: W
I wake up every morning
to Janis Joplin.

My sister, Denise, has a life-size poster of Janis--
mouth open in a scream around the microphone,
arms raised, hair frizzed out wildly,
an anguished, contorted look on her face--
thumbtacked right above her desk,
which is directly across the hall from my bed
and one hundred percent dead ahead
in my direct line of sight.
Janis is the first thing I see when I return from sleep
and reenter reality.

In a normal house, the simple answer to this would be:
close the door. But I do not live
in a normal house. I live in a tumble-
down, three-story, clapboard Victorian
where the rooms get smaller as you climb the stairs,
mine being barely larger than a closet and having--
like all the other rooms on the third floor--
no door (Dad says the former owners, who went broke,
used them for firewood before they moved),
across the hall from my sister, who's nineteen
and who believes anyway
that walls and doors "interrupt the flow" of her karma,
and so of course this leaves me no choice
in the matter of Janis.

When I pointed out to Denise
that my future mental health was probably in jeopardy
because of it, she just sneered and said:
"Get over it, Lyza--you're already a Bradley,
so mental health
is out of the question for you anyway."
Whoever said "the baby of the family
gets all the sympathy"
was clearly not
the baby.

JUNE 1, 1966
It's been almost two years since that day,
when our family began to unravel
like a tightly wound ball of string
that some invisible tomcat
took to pawing and flicking across the floor,
pouncing upon it again and again,
so those strands just kept loosening
and breaking             apart
until all we had left was a bunch of frayed,
chewed_up bits
scattered all over the house.
Mom had left twice before,
after she and Dad had a fight
over money. She stayed away overnight,
but both times she came back, acting like
nothing had happened. This time, the three of us thought,
would be the same...it just might take
a little longer.
Days became weeks. I finished sixth grade.
Dad, who already taught math full_time
at Glassboro State, started to teach at night.
We almost never saw him.
Denise tore up her college applications,
got hired as a waitress at the Willowbank Diner,
started sneaking around with Harry Keating
and his hippie crowd.
Still, we hoped Mom would come back.
For the entire summer,
Dad left the porch light on
and the garage door unlocked every evening
around the same time
Mom used to come home
from her art_gallery job in Pleasantville.
I'd lie awake until real late,
wondering where she could be,
if she was OK, if she might be
hurt, lost, or sick.
Denise sent letters through Mom's best friend,
Mrs. Corman, the only one who knew
where Mom had gone.
Mom answered them at first, but she never
gave a return address. Then, for no reason,
her letters to Denise and to Mrs. Corman
Even so, I had hope.
Every evening, I set her place
at the dinner table and bought candy
on her birthday, just in case.
When September came, I started seventh grade.
I kept my report cards and vaccination records
in the family scrapbook
so that when she came back, she could pick up
mothering right where she'd left off.
Long after Dad and Denise
had made their peace
with the reality of our broken family, I still believed
Mom would come home.
I believed the way I had once believed
in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
Then one day last year, I was
walking home from Willowbank Junior High
when I noticed the library flag
flying at half_mast,
so I asked
Mrs. Leinberger, our town librarian, why.
"Charley Prichett, Guy Smith, and Edward Cullinan
were killed in Vietnam," she said.
I knew them all
their families lived on our end of town.
Charley, Eddie, and Guy
had graduated from Willowbank High
with Denise.
Mrs. Leinberger put her hand
on my shoulder. "They're not coming back
to Willowbank, Lyza I'm sorry..."
Not coming back...Not coming back...

Her words thrummed against the inside
of my head
like the machine guns I'd seen and heard
on the evening news.
Not coming back...Not coming back...
Like the blades of choppers
lifting half_dead men
from the swamps and jungles,
the phrase sliced through any shred
of hope I had left.
That night, I threw the scrapbook
in the trash,
set the dinner table for three,
and gave Denise
a large heart_shaped box of chocolates,
which she took down to the record store
to share with Harry
and the rest of their hippie friends.

Some nights, before I go to sleep,
I look through the lens of the
one Mom gave me
for my tenth birthday, just to see how, when I
turn the tube slowly around,
every fractured pattern that bends and splits
into a million little pieces
always comes back together, to make a picture
more beautiful than the one before.

He's thirteen
like me.
He lives in a three_story clapboard Victorian
on Gary Street
like me.
He's an eighth grader
at Willowbank Junior High
like me.
He's in Mrs. Smithson's homeroom,
Mr. Bellamy's Earth Science,
and Mr. Hogan's Math
like me.
He roots for the Phillies
like me.
He's the younger of two kids
in his family (but his brother, Dixon, is
a LOT nicer than Denise)
like me.
You see, Malcolm and me,
we've been friends since we were little,
since the day I finally got tired of trying to tag along
with Denise and her girlfriends.
That afternoon, according to Dad, I looked out
the window and saw Malcolm playing in the street.
I went outside, told him my name, then rode
my tricycle down the block to his house,
where we played every outdoor kids' game
we could think of:
Cops and Robbers
Red Light, Green Light
Jump rope
Dodgeball             Hopscotch
until it was time for supper and my father
came to take me home.
"You'd never thrown a tantrum,
but that night you and Malcolm hid
under the Duprees' front porch,
where none of us could squeeze in
and reach you. You refused to come out unless we promised
you could play again the whole next day, just the same.
Of course we promised...and ever since,
you two have gotten along
like peas in a pod."

From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpted from Kaleidoscope Eyes by Jen Bryant
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.

Will Lyza’s 1968 summer mystery lead to . . . pirate treasure?

When Lyza helps her dad clean out her late grandfather’s house, a mysterious surprise brightens the sad task. In Gramps’s dusty attic, Lyza discovers three maps, carefully folded and stacked, bound by a single rubber band. On top, an envelope says “For Lyza ONLY.” What could this possibly be? It takes the help of her two best friends, Malcolm and Carolann, to figure out that the maps reveal three possible spots in their own New Jersey town where Captain Kidd (the Captain Kidd, seventeenth-century pirate) may have buried a treasure. Can three thirteen-year-olds actually conduct a secret treasure hunt? And what will they find?

In a tale inspired by a true story of buried treasure, Jen Bryant weaves an emotional and suspenseful novel in poems, all set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War during a pivotal year in U.S. history.

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