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by Patricia Reilly Giff

Published by Wendy Lamb Books, 2008
164 pages
ISBN: 978-0385730693

Ages 9-12

Podcast featuring this book

Sam finds images of the number eleven cropping up in his dreams and in hazy memories of his life before coming to stay with his grandfather when he was very small. Now turning eleven, he is obsessed with the need to understand their meaning, as well as his own past, after spotting the fragment of an old newspaper with the word ďmissingĒ next to a picture of a toddler wearing a sweater he knows well--because it was his. Sam adores his grandfather Mack and the rhythm of their lives together. Mackís two good friends who live and work nearby complete their tight-knit, loving family. But could it all be a lie and he really belongs to someone else? As Sam embarks on a plan to learn more, he enlists the help of a new girl in his class at school. Sam canít read well and he needs someone who can to help him research the past. Caroline is witty and smart and doesnít judge Sam because he canít read. At the same time, her willingness to assist him is dependent upon his agreeing they wonít become friendsóher family never stays in one place long enough to make friendship anything other than painful in the end. A class project to build a medieval castle showcases Samís considerable woodworking skills but also provides an excuse to spend time with Caroline, his partner, investigating Samís ever-more-murky past. But itís what they learn about themselves in the present that proves to be just as important as each finds a new outlook on personal challenges when need dovetails with desire. Warm and richly realized main and secondary characters distinguish a novel about family and friendship that is imbued with a sense of mystery. (Ages 9-13)(MS) ©2008 Cooperative Childrenís Book Center

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