The Bones in the Cliff

by James Stevenson

Ever since they moved to the island, eleven-year-old Pete used to enjoy watching... read more

Ever since they moved to the island, eleven-year-old Pete used to enjoy watching the ferryboat when it docked. That was before his father told him to watch all the boat landing each day, to "...notice every single person getting off, and never to look away, even for a second." In Pete's hand "there was always a quarter, always, just in case..." If he saw the man with the cigar, he could dash to the pay phone and warn his father. Readers know Pete must be keeping an enormous secret. His fearless new friend Rootie advises the emotionally shut-down boy that "you can bury things, you can run away, you can hide... but it never works. Never." The Bones in the Cliff is a full portrait of two contemporary pre-adolescent youths whose parents cannot function as parents. Pete's father depends on alcohol to relieve the terror of violent retribution. The last time Pete visited his mother, she could not recognize him. Rootie's divorced parents compete for her affection, so she stays with her grandmother on the island. This powerful short novel is perfect for reading aloud, because it contains engaging dialogue, full moments and mounting suspense as each brief chapter ends. Stevenson's sensitive characterizations equip Pete and Rootie with the believable resilience necessary for their creative summer play and for the inevitable tests of their loyalty. (Ages 9-11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1995

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