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Here Where the Sunbeams Are Green Paperback – November 12, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-7-After a disturbing letter arrives from their ornithologist father, 12-year-old Madeline (Mad) Wade and her younger sister, Ruby (Roo), head to Central America with their mother to find him. They are accompanied by Ken/Neth, a representative of the luxurious La Lava Resort and Spa, which hired Dr. Wade months earlier to document birds in the area. In reality, the spa, winner of numerous environmental awards, has made him a virtual prisoner so he can track down the nearly extinct Lava-Throated Volcano trogon (LTVT). The birds' bones can be transformed into a youth serum to make huge profits for the company. Mad, Roo, and their mother stay at a nearby resort run by a mysterious old woman who knows many legends, including one that predicts that the nearby volcano will erupt when the last LTVT dies. With the help of her grandson, Kyle, the sisters figure out their father's predicament, enlist the aid of an environmental-activist actress, and foil La Lava's plans. Although narrator Mad consistently and annoyingly disparages her own abilities while extolling Roo's talents, she is the one who ultimately saves the day. Roo's ability to understand Spanish without lessons and to bond immediately with the LTVT that the trio discovers require suspension of disbelief. Phillips doesn't clarify whether Ken/Neth is a villainous mastermind or a corporate dupe or explain how Mrs. Wade remains oblivious to her children's forays into the rainforest. The nascent romance between Mad and Kyle adds yet another element to the overburdened story. Offering plenty of action, the plot crashes to a rather abrupt resolution with hints of a possible return visit. An additional purchase for large fiction collections.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankatoα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

In this ecological mystery set in the shadow of a Central American volcano, two sisters contend with odd portents, like fungal toe flowers that pop up on one of the girls’ feet, as well as ancient legends of eternal youth. Twelve-year-old Mad, more interested in poetry than suspense, narrates the story of how she and the more rambunctious Roo determine to get to the bottom of their ornithologist father’s increasingly odd behavior. He is seeking a Lazarus species of bird that may still haunt the jungle surrounding the superswanky eco spa that hired him. The spa’s minions, meanwhile, seem to be brainwashing Dad while also keeping an all-too-close eye on his family. Enter a local bird-loving boy who helps the girls out, while adding a touch of PG romance to Mad’s life. The narrative drags a bit here and there, but Phillips does build a lush atmosphere of cloying, tropical beauty, punctuated by the volcano’s rumblings. Mystery fans looking for exotic settings and spunky heroines will find this a book to luxuriate in. Grades 4-7. --Karen Cruze --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 940L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; Reprint edition (November 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307931455
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307931450
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #683,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Helen Phillips is the author of the novel THE BEAUTIFUL BUREAUCRAT, the inter-genre collection AND YET THEY WERE HAPPY (named a notable collection of 2011 by The Story Prize), the children's adventure novel HERE WHERE THE SUNBEAMS ARE GREEN, and the forthcoming short story collection SOME POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS. She has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, the Italo Calvino Prize in Fabulist Fiction, and The Iowa Review Nonfiction Award. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Electric Literature, and BOMB, among others. She is a professor at Brooklyn College and lives in Brooklyn with her husband, artist Adam Douglas Thompson, and their two young children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Story Circle Book Reviews on November 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
One of the greatest pleasures for a child is to read a book written for them by an adult who understands imagination and creativity. Helen Phillips is such an author. Her world, as depicted in Here Where the Sunbeams are Green, is peopled by clever, funny children, parents who are a little wacky and strange, and takes place in a spectacular and peculiar setting. She has a great grasp on the way children think, and a good idea of how to present her characters so as to draw children 10 and up into her tale.

Madeline and her sister Ruby (Mad and Roo) are the daughters of an intrepid Bird Watcher/Scientist. He is known for his enthusiasm for his work, and his dedication to studying rare species of avian life. He has headed into the Central American jungle, searching for a bird long thought to be extinct. (Great ecological and environmental issues are present as well; something that will appeal to parents too!)

Unfortunately, his study/work time keeps getting extended, and extended again, and Mad, Roo and their Mom are worried. When a bizarre letter arrives, purportedly from their Dad, this worry becomes a full-blown panic. The annoyingly personable boss, Neth, (nicknamed by Mad) finally agrees to accompany the family to where their Dad is: Lava Bird Volcano.

Once the family is at La Lava Resort and Spa, a "green" getaway in the heart of Central America, confusion and mystery begins to mount. Is the Lava-Throated Volcano Trogon really extinct? Did it (does it?) really have the mysterious ability to restore lost youth? Do the owners of the Resort and Spa have an evil, devilish plan to use this rare bird to promote their spa, and products? Why is Mad and Roo's ornithologist father, Dr. James Wade, unable to come home with them?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. Power TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Here Where the Sunbeams are Green by Helen Phillips follows sisters Mad and Roo who have traveled to Central America to find their father who is a bird expert who wrote a strange letter to Roo. As soon as they land they notice that things in the Lava Bird Volcano area are very strange. The sisters will use their magic and their smarts to solve the mystery and save an endangered bird whose very existence is important to the safety of the community.

This is a delightful and magical book. I loved Roo and Mad who are both strong female heroines who were complex and interesting. The green message of the book was fantastic and one that kids will enjoy. While I did have problems being engaged at the beginning of the book the vague creepiness that was evident kept me hooked and I was glad that I kept with it. The story was original and magical.

Appropriateness: There is no adult content in this book and it is more creepy than scary. There is a bit of romance in a does he like me way that is appropriate for a young middle school character. I would recommend this book to readers 9-14
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on January 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Madeline Wade, her little sister Roo and their mother are in an unsteady, tiny airplane high above the jungle. Mad doesn't like to admit how scared she is; after all, she is 12 years old --- and Roo, at nine, is thoroughly enjoying this escapade. Then again, Mad knows that Roo is the adventurous sibling, while she tends to be way more cautious. Also, Mad has been jumpier since The Weirdness began.

Her father, a bird expert, has been in the South American jungle working for a spa and resort called La Lava. Dad has been gone for months. At first, he called and sent letters, which were often in code for the benefit of Roo, who loves to crack codes. After a while, though, Dad quit contacting his family. The last letter he sent Mad thinks of as "The Very Strange and Incredibly Creepy Letter" because he wrote out a weird poem on it and surrounded the poetry with disturbing drawings of flowers. Now, whenever Mom calls the La Lava Spa and Resort, she reaches a woman who, in her chilly but beautiful voice, informs her that Dad is deep in the jungle, doing very important work. According to the woman, he can't contact them and "sends all the love in his heart," which suspiciously does not sound at all like anything Dad would be caught dead saying.

Kenneth Candy, the man who found this new job for Mad's father, is along for the ride as the three family members travel to meet up with their father and husband. Candy is so chummy with Mom that it literally gives Mad a stomach ache. In fact, Ken/Neth (as Mad dubs him after he requests she call him "Ken") acts like he is now Mad and Roo's father, translating Spanish for the non-Spanish-speaking family members and giving them advice, while somehow seeming to be under the impression he's dealing with toddlers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Linda A Scott on December 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Imaginative and descriptive pulling the reader right into the story. A storyline unlike any other I have read. Loved the "green" theme and crazy parental adventures. The relationship between sisters in this book is one that all should envy and or emulate!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jean on March 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed reading this book and found the characters believable and interesting, and the setting well developed by the author. I would recommend it to book readers ages 10 and up.
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