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Also Known As Harper Hardcover – May 26, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Things are up and down for fifth-grader Harper Lee Morgan. Her father and his drinking are gone, and her mother is trying to hold the family together, but the rent is past due, and their landlady, Mrs. Early, is out of patience. Harper Lee knows that all too well, thanks to the snide comments of her classmate Winnie Rae Early. Harper is focused on readying her poetry for a school contest, but when her mother loses her job and Harper has to stay home with her younger brother, Hemingway, her hopes for the contest fade away. First-time novelist Leal takes a narrative with familiar elements—the family abandoned by the drunken father, a seemingly hopeless situation redeemed by a hopeful heroine—and elevates it with her characters, who though familiar are sharply and sympathetically drawn. One of the highlights is Harper’s poetry, interspersed throughout the book. Although the ideas behind the poems are sometimes sophisticated for a fifth-grader, they are written in a clear and natural way that will speak to readers and make them think. Grades 4-6. --Ilene Cooper

Review

“First-time novelist Leal creates complex characters from various walks of life… The cards are stacked against Harper and her family, but it is inspiring to watch her find success with a pen, paper and a little hope.” ―Publishers Weekly

“Memorable characterizations fill the book with realistic individuals whom readers will root for and celebrate with when their lives finally begin to improve.” ―School Library Journal

“First-time novelist Leal takes a narrative with familiar elements…and elevates it with her characters, who...are sharply and sympathetically drawn. One of the highlights is Harper's poetry, interspersed throughout the book…they are written in a clear and natural way that will speak to readers and make them think.” ―Booklist

“The likable characters, their misfortunes and especially their self-reliance will keep readers...enthralled. A poignant debut.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“From Harper to Winnie Rae Early, the characters are memorable as are the descriptive passages…This book is rich with discussion opportunity for middle grade students” ―VOYA

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 800L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: William Allen White 2012, Grades 3-5
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 1 edition (May 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805088814
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805088816
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,240,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James Hiller VINE VOICE on May 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Fifth grade Harper is a introspective poetess with an annoying little brother, a mother struggling to care for her family, and a father whose whiskey scented memory lingers far more powerful than she would like. Unable to pay for their house after he splits, the family must find a home in a motel until mother finds enough money to improve their lot. Young Harper records all of this, along with some interesting, yet maybe a bit too adult, poetry in Anne Haywood Leal's new book, "Also Known as Harper".

As a educator with twenty years experience, I always approach these books with two minds: am I enjoying this story as a person, and as a teacher. I have to say yes on both counts. Leal's desperate world is complete and terrifying, real and haunting. I admire authors who don't go out of the way to protect their characters, but truly inhabit the story and the events surrounding them, and Leal is one of those authors. Everything that happens to Harper and her family looms very real. Her examination of one family's struggle with poverty is a timely and discussion inducing topic, probably more appropriate for grades 4th and up.

Leal's writing style is wonderfully evocative and descriptive. She manages to capture scenes in a matter of sentences, and gives time to the important events to see themselves through. I found, time to time, her use of words and phrases perhaps a bit too flowery or wordy for my taste. And, Harper's poetry, while it sheds light on her life like nothing else, was a bit too on the money for a fifth grade. I found myself questioning from time to time would Harper actually have written a poem like that. Is she that precocious? Still, it does flows nicely with the story.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In this day and age when families are finding themselves living in low-cost motels, or homeless, this is a timely novel. The main character Harper is named after her Mom's favorite author and the family is facing dire circumstances with her alcoholic Dad gone and her having to stay home to watch her brother while her Mom both works and looks for more work. These mature topics unfortunately face our children today and Harper's take on them is informational and inspirational. I think the intended age 10 and up market will "get" this book and maybe it is an important lesson for them to understand that the kid next to them in class, or maybe the kid no longer next to them in class, could be Harper. I also like the inclusion of poetry as a way of making the emotional connection and for teaching pre-teens and teens to appreciate the importance of poetry.
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Format: Hardcover
I began reading this book with my eight year old son, but in the end I read it for myself...I know that sounds selfish, but something about Harper Lee wouldn't let me put the book down. I fell in love with her character and was so engaged by the story that I couldn't stop reading until I was sure she would land on her feet. The writer has the rare ability to write believable and natural flowing dialogue, which is particularly difficult considering that the main characters are young children. Harper reminds me of children I've met in Africa who care for younger siblings without second thought b/c they simply must. She somehow retains her innocence in the face of much adversity and although she has plenty of reason to resent her baby brother and her mother, she comes through for them every time. This book couldn't have been written at a better time. It is a lesson in sensitivity toward homelessness during a time of great economic turmoil. A must read for civics teachers. I rarely follow a writer from novel to novel, but I plan to follow Ann Leal through her next journey, which I hope will be very soon.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was a sad but also happy book that sometime I might want to read again. Harper is so confident and there family has been throught a lot of tragity like when there dad left and when one of there friends died out of nowhere
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Format: Hardcover
Harper is the rock of her family, keeping track of her little brother Hemingway as her mother does her best to earn a living and keep it together after her father fell more in love with liquor than the family. Shortly into the book, they find themselves evicted and living in a seedy hotel. Harper must stay home from 5th grade(which she adores) and give up her chance in a poetry contest (where a supportive teacher has been encouraging her talent.) There is a bratty neighbor girl and some supportive side characters but Harper still bears a heavy burden and the mom never gets the help she needs to become the adult in the family. Very much along the lines of WAITING FOR NORMAL (Leslie Connor) and ALMOST HOME (Joan Bauer.) If you liked those books, you will probably like this one as well. This one was written before both of those, but I only came across it recently.

About me: I'm a middle school/high school librarian
How I got this book: checked it out from the public library
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for a classmate of my son. I am reading it myself, gently, so I can still give it to her. It's a great book. I know a family with 6 "Harpers" in it and it breaks my heart. The eldest trying to leave high school to take care of the others, the 9yr old crying "I want to go home" when there is no home (these are the people I KNOW, not the book characters). It's great to have a book that brings up this subject, something I am sure many school kids and their parents don't even realize, especially in a nice town like I live in. Thanks to the author for telling this story. I hope the girl I give it to finds it a good read, having a character who she can relate to. I hope other children read this book so they can be thankful for all they have and show compassion to other "Harpers". And I truly hope, that in time, the family I know can get beyond this.
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