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Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy [Kindle Edition]

Gary D. Schmidt
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)

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Book Description

It only takes a few hours for Turner Buckminster to start hating Phippsburg, Maine. No one in town will let him forget that he's a minister's son, even if he doesn't act like one. But then he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, a smart and sassy girl from a poor nearby island community founded by former slaves. Despite his father's-and the town's-disapproval of their friendship, Turner spends time with Lizzie, and it opens up a whole new world to him, filled with the mystery and wonder of Maine's rocky coast. The two soon discover that the town elders, along with Turner's father, want to force the people to leave Lizzie's island so that Phippsburg can start a lucrative tourist trade there. Turner gets caught up in a spiral of disasters that alter his life-but also lead him to new levels of acceptance and maturity. This sensitively written historical novel, based on the true story of a community's destruction, highlights a unique friendship during a time of change. Author's note.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9-From the sad and shameful actual destruction of an island community in 1912, Schmidt weaves an evocative novel. When Turner Buckminster arrives in Phippsburg, ME, it takes him only a few hours to start hating his new home. Friendless and feeling the burden of being the new preacher's son, the 13-year-old is miserable until he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, the first African American he has ever met and a resident of Malaga Island, an impoverished community settled by freed or possibly escaped slaves. Despite his father's and the town's stern disapproval, Turner spends time with Lizzie, learning the wonders of the Maine coast. For some minor infraction, Turner's father makes the boy visit elderly Mrs. Cobb, reading to her and playing the organ. Lizzie joins him, and this unlikely threesome takes comfort in the music. The racist town elders, trying to attract a lucrative tourist trade, decide to destroy the shacks on Malaga and to remove the community, including 60 graves in their cemetery. The residents are sent to the Home for the Feeble-Minded in Pownal. When Mrs. Cobb dies and leaves her house to Turner, he sets off to bring Lizzie home, only to find that she died shortly after arriving at the institution. Turner stands up to the racism of the town. His father, finally proud of him, stands with him-a position that results in the reverend's death. Although the story is hauntingly sad, there is much humor, too. Schmidt's writing is infused with feeling and rich in imagery. With fully developed, memorable characters and a fascinating, little-known piece of history, this novel will leave a powerful impression on readers.
Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 7-12. Turner, the rigid minister's son, doesn't fit in when his family moves from Boston to the small town of Phippsburg on the coast of Maine in 1912. It's not only that Maine baseball is different from the game he knows; he's just plain miserable. Then he makes friends with a smart, lively young teen, Lizzie Griffin, living in a small, impoverished community founded by former slaves on nearby Malaga Island. When the town elders drive Lizzie's people off the island, Turner stands up for them, but he can do nothing. Lizzie eventually dies in an insane asylum. The novel may be too long and detailed for some readers, with every plot strand and character accounted for. But the removal of the Malaga community really happened, and Schmidt weaves that history into a powerful tale of friendship and coming-of-age, adding a lyrical sense of the coastal landscape. Characters are drawn without reverence in this haunting combination of fact and fiction that has a powerful and tragic climax. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
"From so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."
"Like angels appearing in the sky,
whales are proof of God."
--Cynthia Rylant, THE WHALES
Because it is based upon a series of true, race-related events in Maine during the early 1900s, LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY might make you think of Karen Hesse's WITNESS. Several of the "good guy" characters--Mrs. Carr and the elder Mrs. Hurd, for example--have a charm reminiscent of the idiosyncratic folk in BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE. But, because of the depth of the evil behind the tragic real events upon which the fictional story of Lizzie and Turner is built, the feelings of despair and anger with which we're left evoke memories of such books as MISSISSIPPI TRIAL, 1955 and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.
The enchanting Lizzie Bright Griffin, a girl of great strength and few words, belongs to the youngest of many generations of African Americans who have called Malaga Island home.
"Lizzie held close against her grandfather as the people of Malaga Island came out from the pine woods, gathered around their preacher on the shore to hear what had been said. Before they turned, Lizzie felt her grandfather ebb as though his soul were passing out of him, the way the last waves of a falling tide pass into still air and are gone. "She took a deep breath, and she wasn't just breathing in the air. She breathed in the waves, the sea grass, the pines, the pale lichens on the granite, the sweet shimmering of the pebbles dragged back and forth in the surf, the fish hawk diving to the waves, the dolphin jumping out of them.
"She would not ebb.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The price of learning what the whales already know March 23, 2005
Having finally finished, "Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy", I see now that the 2005 Newbery year was one filled with books for older child readers. Whether those readers are into racism or autism, the subject matter of the winners was particularly complex and mature. And in none of these winners is the subject more mature than in "Lizzie Bright". Basing this tale on the true events that occurred on Malaga Island, just off the coast of Maine, the story is a thoughtful look at the meaning of racism, friendship, human connection, and loss. It's not going to strike the kids who read it as a cheery devil-may-care book. But its magnificent writing keeps it from becoming another "Kira-kira" sob-fest. In any case, it's the kind of story that'll give you reason enough to stop, think, and consider.

According to Turner Buckminster's calculations, he was in his new home of Phippsburg, Maine for approximately fifteen minutes shy of six hours when he realized that, "he didn't know how much longer he could stand it". For one thing, he's the son of the town's new minister. And when you're the minister's son you're expected to be the soul of virtue. Turner's not a bad kid, but he has a heck of a way of getting into trouble. It's only when he escapes to the seacoast and meets Lizzie Bright Griffin that things start to look up. Lizzie's one of the black people living on the tiny island of Malaga, just off the coast of Phippsburg. It's a poor community (this is 1912, after all), but they get by. Unfortunately, the town's been losing money and it seems the Buckminsters have been hired by the city's fathers to help them in their goal of ridding Malaga of its inhabitants so as to set it up as a tourism site.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best children's book in years June 27, 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I teach both children's lit and young adult lit at my university, so I read hundreds of children's books a year. This is the best book to come along for older children in quite awhile; I simply can't fault any aspect of it--style, character development, pacing, plot, honesty--it's all here.

As has been pointed out by a couple of other reviewers, it is simply shocking that Kira Kira won the Newbery while this book was a runner-up. When I was grousing about that fact to a librarian, she told me that the Newbery is often won by a compromise book, because the better books have such passionate devotees on the committee that they cancel each other out. I can't help but think that's what happened this year with Lizzie Bright and Al Capone Does My Shirts, both of which are far superior to Kira Kira.

The worst thing about Kira Kira is its irritating writer's-workshop postmodern minimalist style--that and I don't think actual children will like the book at all. At my own public library it has languished on the shelf for months, checked out only once--by me. Lizzie Bright, on the other hand, is not only always out, but has a waiting list of potential child readers.

If you are a parent or a teacher, order this book immediately. It is destined to be a classic, a real jewel in a sea of mediocrity.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy May 10, 2005
Turner Buckminster, late of Boston, is the son of First Congregational's new pastor and doesn't feel welcome in Phippsburg, Maine. When the townies taunt him for his poor batting skills at an impromptu baseball game, he fantasizes about "lighting out for the Territories." Then he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, an independent Malaga Island girl who improves his baseball, takes him rowing on the bay, and introduces him to the wonders of her island and its natural surroundings. Just off the coast of Phippsburg, her island is an historically black community that the town citizens plan to forcibly remove-in order to make way for the tourist trade.

The geographical (the wild Maine coast) and historical (circa 1910) settings of this novel are integral components of the story; Turner and his father discuss Darwin's Origin of the Species, while Lizzie shares her island refuge with her friend. As a punishment for fighting with local bullies, Turner is forced to play the organ for Mrs. Cobb, a crotchety old neighbor. Later, he and Lizzie form an unusual friendship with her. The inhabitants of Malaga Island are forced to leave, and things become desperate for Lizzie when her grandfather dies-she is sent to an institution for the feeble-minded in faraway Pownal. (Anyone who doesn't "fit in" is sent there by the Phippsburg deacons.) When Turner inherits the old woman's house and attempts to move Lizzie into it, tensions escalate, climaxing in a Buckminster family tragedy. In the background of this turmoil, there is the beauty of the natural world, illustrated by the majesty of the gray whales that cruise offshore, the wheeling gulls overhead, and the bracing fragrance of the coastal pines.

Schmidt creates sensitive and believable characters that are capable of unexpected acts.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars so sad!
contains spoiler. i loved it. it was sorry for the Buckminster boy even though is not real.lizzy was great. i wish she hadnt died.
Published 2 days ago by pkmd1
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating.
A stunningly beautiful and unexpectedly tragic and hopeful book. I was looking for a new book for 3rd Grade novel study, and this is not going to be it; but it is a captivating... Read more
Published 23 days ago by Meredith
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A wonderful, thoughtful book!
Published 1 month ago by Mary D
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
what a book!
Published 1 month ago by J. andrukonis
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars “…everything in the world rejoices in the touch and everything in the...
There is so much to love about this based-on-fact historical fiction story. Of course, it has the usual suspects: adolescents who aren’t blinded by the prejudice that adults have... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Julee Rudolf
3.0 out of 5 stars It was just ok
I wish I could say something else but I can't I did not in joy this book. I had to read this for school and let me tell you I had a hard time getting though it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Swishopper
5.0 out of 5 stars Another beautiful bittersweet story set in the past
Another beautiful bittersweet story set in the past, Schmidt surrounds you with the comfort of the ocean and it's breezes as it's characters warm their way into your heart and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by smiley face
5.0 out of 5 stars Well drawn characters
There are layers in this story. One layer is that it is historical fiction. The island off the coast of Maine where the black inhabitants were chased away to make room for a hotel... Read more
Published 5 months ago by RNolen
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes
This book was awesome but SPOILER ALERT a lot of people die. This is the sad part. Gary Schmitt makes awesome books like Ok For Now and The Wednesday Wars.
Published 5 months ago by Imani
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More About the Author

Gary D. Schmidt is the author of the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. His most recent novel is The Wednesday Wars. He is a professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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