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Silent to the Bone

by E.L. Konigsburg

Published by Jean Karl/Atheneum, 2000
261 pages
ISBN: 0-689-83601-5

Ages 10 - 14

From the moment he makes the 911 call to report an emergency with his baby sister, 13-year-old Branwell Zamborska finds that he's unable to talk. According to the family's British au pair, Branwell dropped and then shook the baby, leading to her brain injury, and now he is being held in a juvenile detention center, awaiting trial. But his best friend Connor is certain there's more to the story. He knows Branwell would never hurt his baby sister. He also knows how much Branwell loves language, based on the word games they've played over the years. Is there some way he can use one of those games as a key to unlock the words hidden deep inside his friend? Using twelve cards bearing single words or phrases that have special meaning to both boys, Connor is slowly able to unravel the mystery with the help of his adult stepsister, a savvy young woman who has a special understanding of Branwell and his family situation. Told in Connor's wry voice, the story moves briskly as each card selected by Branwell sends Connor on a bit of investigative work as he struggles to put the puzzle pieces together. And Connor finds that he has a puzzle of his own to work on, right in his own family, based on a long-standing rift between his father and his stepsister. Konigsburg's compelling novel reads like a good mystery as it explores the nature of empathy, the complexity of love, and the power of language. Winner, CCBC 2001 Newbery Discussion CCBC categories: Fiction for Children. (KTH; Nov 27) 2000 Cooperative Children's Book Center

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