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Finest Kind Hardcover – October 10, 2006

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 680L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books; First Edition, First Printing edition (October 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416909524
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416909521
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,202,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-8–Jake's father has lost his job and savings in the economic panic of 1837. The family leaves its comfortable Boston surroundings and takes up residence in a dingy farmhouse in Wiscasset, ME, where the 12-year-old finds himself responsible for the household. With his father working as a lumberman and his mother caring for his younger brother, who has cerebral palsy, Jake carries the additional burden of keeping his sibling's existence a secret. He soon learns to trust his instincts and finds help and support from social outcasts. Granny McPherson, deemed a witch because of her herbal remedies; Nabby McCord, left to care for her younger siblings due to her alcoholic mother and seafaring father; and Simon, the kind, dim-witted handyman, help showcase the superstitious attitude toward differences that prevailed during this period. Although Jake at times appears too altruistic and resilient, he is still a believable protagonist. The native colloquialisms, use of actual people and events, and well-researched historical information keep the evenly paced plot appealing and the ending uplifting. Ben Mikaelsen's Petey (Hyperion, 1998), Katherine Paterson's Jip, His Story (Lodestar, 1996), and Cynthia DeFelice's The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker (Farrar, 1996) offer more in-depth pictures of some of the atrocities directed at those who are considered different. Wait's forthright tone and clear writing make this novel accessible to a wide audience.–D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

It's 1838, and 12-year-old Jake Webber must make a difficult move from Maine to Boston after his father loses his job. Their new home is shabby and isolated, and their new life is a far cry from their former privileged one. Worse, Dad's new logging job keeps him away from home, leaving Jake to care for his mother and disabled younger brother, Frankie, who his parents keep secret, fearing public rejection. It's a heavy burden, but with unexpected support from townsfolk, including outcast healer Granny McPherson and neighbor Nabby, who has family burdens of her own, Jake finds courage, inner strength, and a new appreciation of family and friendships. Wait's prose is straightforward, the story is filled with diverse characters and period details, and Jake is an appealing, dimensional protagonist, whose challenges are sympathetically portrayed. An author's note provides background on the times and place. Shelle Rosenfeld
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

I've been writing mysteries for grownups (the Shadows Antique Print Mystery Series) and historical fiction set in Maine for young people (the latest of which is UNCERTAIN GLORY, about a boy who really did publish his town's newspaper during the first two weeks of the Civil War) since I left corporate America in 1998 and moved to Maine, a state I've always loved and had family ties to. In early September of 2014 the seventh book in the Shadows series -- SHADOWS ON A MAINE CHRISTMAS - will be published, and in January, 2015, Kensington will publish TWISTED THREADS, the first book in my new mystery series (the Mainely Needlepoint series)set in Maine.

I earned my B.A. at Chatham College and did graduate work at New York University. I've also owned an antique print business, MAH Antiques, since 1976. I adopted my 4 wonderful daughters when I was a single parent. They're grown now, and I have eight perfect grandchildren. (Aren't all grandchildren perfect?) In 2003 I married Bob Thomas, a man I've known and loved since 1968 .. sometimes life moves in slow but steady ways. Bob's an artist, and is immensely supportive of my writing. (He even does all the errands and cooking so I have no excuses to leave my desk!) I'm very lucky to have achieved so many of my goals in life, and to have had fun doing it. My favorite quotation is "Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved." William Jennings Bryan wrote that, but I think it defines my life. For more information about me, check my website, www.leawait.com, friend me on Facebook, and check the blog www.mainecrimewriters.com, where I blog with 9 other mystery writers from Maine. And remember -- LIFE is the REAL mystery!

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 7 customer reviews
A delightful way to spend a cold winter afternoon!
Thomas G. Sterner
I would much rather have seen him undergo a transformation of character like that of Esperanza in Pat Ryan's, "Esperanza Rising".
E. R. Bird
The work is filled with wonderful little historical facts and has been very well researched.
D. Blankenship

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Rup on February 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jake Webber moves from Boston with his parents. Their fortunate life dissolved due to the Panic of 1837. Their cousin promises Jake father a job at the mill in town and find them a dilapidated home to live in. Jake meets some people in the area and attempts to make sure he, his mother and brother with severe cerebral palsy to eat while his father lives in town to work. Jake learns much about getting food and preparing extras for the winter. The occurrences during the events of the book indicate Jake to be a brave and intelligent young man.

The story relates about the new boy in the area and hiding secrets within a family. Due to others in Boston being frightened and misunderstandings about Jake's brother, the family hides the brother from others. The mother handles the disabled boy overwhelmed by many seizures mostly by herself but with some assistance from Jake. Many children born with disabilities were hidden during this era and throughout history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
You know, there's a reason Frances Hodgson Burnett's, "A Little Princess" is considered a classic. Wait! Come back! I know I'm supposed to be reviewing "Finest Kind" by Lea Wait but just bear with me a second here while I make my point. Ahem. As I said before, there's a reason people love "A Little Princess". There's something wholly entrancing with a tale in which a child grows up surrounded by wealth and privilege only to find their world come crashing down around their ears. The riches to rags tale is just as interesting as the rags to riches tales out there, and not nearly as common. Lea Wait presents us an entirely different take on the genre with a book that's part riches to rags and part survival story. For historical fiction fans, the day-to-day living exemplified in "Finest Kind" will appeal to those who wish they lived in the past. It's a perfectly nice story, though there's not much to set it apart from the pack.

In the midst of The Panic of 1837, Jake Webber has just discovered that his father, a banker, is out of a job. Penniless and without options, Jake's family moves to northern Maine from their Boston home to start life anew. Part of that new life includes hiding Frankie. Frankie is Jake's younger brother who suffers from cerebral palsy in a time when not a lot of children survived that disease. With his father away earning money for the family and his mother always at home tending to Frankie, it's up to Jake to find a way to help his family survive the fast approaching cold winter months. He's going to have to make some friends, including his neighbor Nabby and a simple man named Simon, if he and those he loves are ever going to manage to stick it out in Maine.

There is much to admire in Wait's choice of language.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. van Rooyen on February 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Having a special needs child myself, I could relate a lot to this book. It was an interesting read, as it is historical, and fast yet not TOO fast. I haven't read a YA book in years, so this was great to read. Very well written. Thoroughly enjoyed this book! Gorgeous cover, too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nathaniel Lachenmeyer on January 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is the best kind of historical fiction--convincing, compelling, and enlightening. The reader comes away, not only with a better understanding of mid-19th century American life, but also a better understanding and appreciation of life today. Highly recommended.
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