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The Cardturner Hardcover

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Read an excerpt from The Cardturner by Louis Sachar. [PDF]

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 720L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (May 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385736622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385736626
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #580,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up—Alton Richards is resigned to spending a slow summer on his own after his girlfriend leaves him for his best friend and he finds himself with no money and no job. Unfortunately, his mother insists that he become his blind great-uncle's chauffeur and cardturner at local bridge tournaments. Though the 17-year-old has only met Lester Trapp on a few occasions, his mother hopes that this connection will inspire the wealthy old man to write the family into his will. Alton reluctantly agrees, even though he knows nothing about bridge and has no interest in learning the game. He meets Toni Castaneda at the tournaments and soon discovers that he's not the only long-lost relative intent on winning over Trapp and his inheritance. What transpires is an intriguing glimpse into a crazy family full of secrets and unusual quirks. The characters are well limned, and the narrative is laced with Sachar's trademark wry humor. Most teens have very little knowledge about bridge, a fact that Alton acknowledges several times throughout the novel. At times, the story line becomes thick with technical game descriptions, though he does offer an option to skip these sections by providing a symbol to indicate more in-depth card instructions. This well-written novel contains a rewarding intergenerational friendship and a sweetly appealing romance in the making. Nonetheless it may require an additional nudge to hook readers. It's a nudge worth giving for motivated teens and those who enjoy Sachar's novels.—Stephanie Malosh, Donoghue Elementary School, Chicago, IL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* With his latest novel, the Newbery-winning author of Holes (1998) fulfills a need the world probably didn't even know it had: the great teen bridge novel. Alton Richard's great-uncle Lester Trapp is rich and ailing, a combo that leads Alton's parents to hatch a plan for the teen to cozy up to the old man and carve out a chunk of inheritance. Though blind, Trapp is a brilliant, world-class bridge player and needs someone to read him his cards and make his plays. Enter Alton, who wouldn't begin to know how to decipher questions like “One banana, pass, pass, two no-trump. Is that unusual?” But he withstands the constant barbs from his irascible uncle and grows more intrigued by the game (in no small part due to the cute, kind-of-crazy girl who also plays). Sachar liberally doles out detailed commentary on the basics and then nuances of the game, and in a nod to the famously dull Moby-Dick chapter on the minutiae of whaling, a little whale image appears when the bridge talk is about to get deep so readers can skip right ahead to a pithy wrap-up. But don't be fooled: it is astonishing how Sachar can make blow-by-blow accounts of bridge not only interesting but exciting, treating each play like a clue to unravel the riddle of each hand. An obvious windfall for smart and puzzle-minded teens, this is a great story to boot, with genuine characters (save the scheming parents) and real relationships, balanced by casual, confident storytelling. Grades 9-12. --Ian Chipman

More About the Author

author spotlight
Newbery Award-winning author Louis Sachar is the creator of the entertaining Marvin Redpost books as well as the much-loved There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom, winner of 17 child-voted state awards.

Louis Sachar's book Holes, winner of the 1999 Newbery Medal, the National Book Award, and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, is also an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an ALA Quick Pick, an ALA Notable Book, and was made into a major motion picture.

A Few Words From Louis Sachar
Of all the characters from Holes, why did you choose to revisit Armpit in SMALL STEPS?
LS: I tend to write about underdogs. It seemed to me that life would be tough for an African-American teenager from a low-income family with a criminal record. Especially someone stuck with the name, "Armpit."
Although this new book is about a character from Holes, the two books are very different. How would you explain to a fan of Holes what to expect from SMALL STEPS?
LS: I can't. I'm no good at describing my books. Holes has been out now for seven years, and I still can't come up with a good answer when asked what that book is about.
Could you imagine future novels about any of the other boys?
Do you think about what Stanley is up to now?
LS: I don't think too much about Stanley or Zero. I left them in a good place. Although money doesn't bring happiness, or give meaning to someone's life, the problems Stanley and Zero face now (and I'm sure they do face many problems) are less interesting than those faced by someone like Armpit.
Plenty of teenagers fantasize about what it would be like to be a young rock star.
You portray it as lonely. Tell us about that decision.
LS: The media tends to portray the teenage world as one where drinking and sex is taken for granted. In fact, I think most teenagers don't drink, are unsure of themselves, and feel awkward around members of the opposite sex. I thought it was important to show Kaira, a rock star no less, as such a person. Her situation, in many ways, is made more difficult as she has no social contact with anyone her age. She is trapped in a world of agents, record producers, and hanger-ons.
I'm imagining that off all the books you've written, Holes is the one that has changed your life the most. Not only did it win the Newbery Medal, it's also simply a popular sensation. Is this assessment accurate? What is this novel's continuing impact on your life? Would you consider it the book that you are proudest of?
LS: Not counting Small Steps, I think Holes is my best book, in terms of plot, and setting, and the way the story revealed itself. It hasn't changed my life, other than that I have more money than I did before I wrote it. I'm still too close to Small Steps to compare it to Holes.
Why do you typically write only two hours each day?
LS: Small steps. Every time I start a new novel it seems like an impossible undertaking. If I tried to do too much too quickly, I would get lost and feel overwhelmed. I have to go slow, and give things a chance to take form and grow.

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Customer Reviews

The characters grab you and the story is interesting.
Trapp wants his young nephew to accompany him to his bridge club to read off the cards in his hand and play for him during the games.
A reader who never played bridge will enjoy the book for its plot and love story.
Stanford S. Hunn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By The Children's Book Reporter on May 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Alton Richards (not Richard Alton like some of his teachers call him) has always known that wealthy Lester Trapp is his favorite uncle. He loves him. At least, that's what his mother tells him to say every time Trapp and Alton talk on the phone. But when Trapp's health problems lead to his blindness and Alton is roped into being the old man's "cardturner" at his bridge club...Alton has to decide his feelings for himself--along with his feelings for Toni Castaneda, Trapp's niece by marriage and former cardturner according to most, contender for the fortune according to Alton's mom. But he soon learns that Toni might not be as crazy as his mom says, that bridge may not be as boring as he thought, and that not all coincidences are mere coincidences.
Ok, this time I'm skipping all the educated, literary-sounding praise. Getting straight to the point: I loved The Cardturner. Like Sachar's previous masterpiece, Holes, The Cardturner hides layer upon layer of meaning with the utmost subtlety...yet is so straightforward about it all that you will trust the narrator implicitly. I know my summary is slightly convoluted; a more simple way to put it is that this book is all about bridges. Yeah, the game bridge of course, which you will find delightfully, surprisingly exciting, but so much more... The bridges we build from one person to idea to another... to friends, strangers, God, our own subconscious minds.
Ok, and if anyone suddenly has a strong desire to start up a bridge club after reading this (it wouldn't surprise me), I so want to be in on it.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By datura2002 VINE VOICE on June 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most enjoyable books I've read this year. I was initially skeptical about a book with so much bridge in it. I've never played bridge, a mathematical, complex card game that seems to only be played by British characters in books. But I'm a fan of Louis Sacher, writer of _Sideways Stories from Wayside School_ and the Newbery-winning _Holes_, so I picked it up. I found myself interested in bridge as a game, and riveted by the underlying story about a rich uncle, an inheritance, and a woman who went mad under mysterious circumstances in the past.

Sacher's skills as a storyteller and polish as a writer only continue to grow. His treatment of Alton's feelings about his friendships and his family is gentle and skillful (and about his family, Alton's parents are hilariously awful and his sister is great). Sacher has kept the sense of humor and his imagination that distinguished his earlier books, but added to it a psychological subtlety that made it an exceptionally pleasing reading experience.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Whatcha Reading Now? on May 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It's hard not to feel sorry for seventeen-year-old Alton Richards when his parents rope him into driving his cranky, blind, great-Uncle Lester to his bridge club four times a week - during summer vacation, no less. Even worse: Alton must be Uncle Lester's eyes during this old-fashioned game; his cardturner.

As the summer wears on, Alton, in turn, learns the game of bridge requires players to look beyond the surface, which extends to the way he perceives his uncle. Despite his blindness, Uncle Lester is quite insightful.

The Cardturner by Louis Sachar is a wholly original story that breaks so many rules of what should be an interesting book for teens. It's about bridge - a game for old people and not even parent old, more like grandparent old. I can assure you, the author manages to make the subject not only a good read, but you may even consider playing bridge because the book provides some "how to" tips as a bonus.

In his Newbery Award winning Holes, Mr. Sachar broke a few rules, too. And I, for one, hope that he continues to be his wonderful non-conformist self , writing about whatever subject or story moves him.
-- Reviewed by Michelle Delisle
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Judy Felsenthal on July 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I love Louis Sacher and was so excited to read this new book. The plot intrigued me; it's novel and interesting, and I love playing games, so I was ready for a great read. Alton is a delightful character, and his voice rings true throughout the novel. His uncle, too, was well drawn in his quirky way. But, while I admit that I stayed up late to see how it ended, I was dulled by all the bridge discussion, and skipping ahead-which Alton recommends-wasn't really an option. I play cards, count cards and understand the essentials of bridge, but there was way too much of it, and I can't believe that a young adult will invest the time and thought required to follow the lengthy play by play which grew denser as the story progressed. So, despite the strong plot and storyline, I won't be recommending this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By GreenBeanTeenQueen on September 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is probably going to be the worst review and make no sense, because I honestly can't put into words why and how much I loved this book. I'd seen it around and read a review that piqued my interest. But bridge, in a book for teenagers? How interesting could that be?

Turns out it makes for a great story and one that is so unique and different from anything else I've read. Alton is a very likeable character and I love his narration and observations on life. Alton is a nice guy, he still talks to his best friend even though his girlfriend dumped him and started dating said best friend. He doesn't complain too much about having to play bridge. He's not a mysterious bad boy type, but a nice normal teen. He's the type of guy I would have had a crush on in high school.

Toni provides some of the spunk in the book. She's Trapp's great-niece so while Alton knows of Toni, they are on opposite sides of Trapp's family and Trapp is the one that connects them. Toni is hilarious and while she starts out as being somewhat odd, I really liked her and thought she was a great counterpart to Alton's character.

Even though The Cardturner is about Alton and Toni, it's mostly about Trapp and Annabel, Trapp's former bridge partner and Toni's grandmother. Their story is heartbreaking and how it connects and intertwines with Alton and Toni is pitch-perfect storytelling. They connect slowly and the way the two stories unfold keep the reader interested and engaged and just made the book for me.

The Cardturner, even with all it's great characters and storytelling, is ultimately a book about bridge. The author likens this to telling a story about baseball to aliens-it's not going to make a lot of sense. The way Mr.
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