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The Eyes of the Amaryllis Paperback – August 21, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The ship Amaryllis sinks in a hurricane, but for 30 years the captain's widow waits for him to send her a message from the bottom of the sea. Her granddaughter waits with her, and "the author reminds us that the line between reality and imagination is undefinable. Babbitt rings the bell again," PW said.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

The plot is simple but so well written and carefully constructed that its familiar elements--an estranged mother and son, an undying love--undergo a sea-change, too. And, for all its apparent simplicity, the images evoked are deep and complex. (School Library Journal, Starred Review)

Having read this book, one feels changed, haunted for life. (Minneapolis Tribune)

The language is as exotic as an underwater treasure trove. (Book World)

Mrs. Babbitt paints late 19th century domestic and aquatic scenes with enormous sensitivity and uses language masterfully to achieve action and imagery. The characters of the widow and her granddaughter are superbly drawn. . . . The romance and symbolism will appeal strongly to adolescent girls. (Poughkeepsie Journal)

This is a skillfully told story, offering a haunting and challenging read for the middle reader. (The Baltimore Sun)

Babbitt wastes nary a word, deftly carving characters and events into a gripping tale, successfully using the sea both as an impelling atmospheric force and as an effective protagonist. (Booklist)

The reader is treated to a poignant awareness of the power of love and its ability to shape the lives of those who experience it most deeply. (St. Louis Post Dispatch)

Natalie Babbitt's lightness of touch as she broaches deep and delicate themes is something admirable. (The Christian Science Monitor)

An intricate combination of patterns, like a jacquard weave, the book succeeds as a well-wrought narrative in which a complex philosophical theme is developed through the balanced, subtle use of symbol and imagery. It is a rare story, accessible to the discriminating preadolescent; because of its perfect scale and transcendent style, it neither diminishes the subject nor the audience. (The Horn Book Magazine)

An atmospheric, romantic tale. (Kirkus Reviews)

'Musical' is a descriptor often applied, even over-applied, to poetry. But prose is just as obliged to rhythm and cadence, to the hum of warm vowels and the crackle of consonants. And there is music in the language of Natalie Babbitt's 16th novel, which is fitting because she is so often describing the ocean. If you listen you can hear it roaring inside her sentences. Set in an unspecified bygone era but free of fancified old-timey verbiage, this book is a little gem--something to read in one evening, tucked up in bed. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Natalie Babbitt wastes no words in the telling of this gripping tale. Love story for sure, ghost story, maybe, but a story sure to entertain and haunt ten- to twelve-year-old readers. (Armchair Interviews)

. . . the perfect time to stock your shelves with these elegantly designed editions. (School Library Journal's "Extra Helping" on Square Fish's Babbitt reissues)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 13 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish; Reissue edition (August 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312370083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312370084
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #395,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A gifted artist and writer, Natalie Babbitt's novels are inspired by a brilliance and imagination that is completely original. She began her career in 1966 with the publication of a picture book, The Forty-Ninth Magician, a collaboration with her husband, Samuel Fisher Babbitt. Her first novel, The Search for Delicious, established her gift for writing magical tales with a more profound meaning embedded within them. Kneeknock Rise earned her a Newbery Honor Medal, but it is Tuck Everlasting which has insured Babbitt's place in the history of children's literature. This modern classic, which has also been made recently into a major motion picture starring Alexis Bledel, William Hurt, and Sissy Spacek, asks an enduring and powerful question: If we could live forever, would we want to? Babbitt has written six more novels including The Eyes of the Amaryllis and Goody Hall-each one presenting her unique vision of an enchanted world. Her latest novel, Jack Plank Tells Tales, was published in Spring 2007. Natalie Babbitt lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and is a grandmother of three. When asked what she wants readers to remember about her books, she replied, 'the questions without answers.'

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Kate on December 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
When I first read this book, I was blown away. I was only 11, but I could still grasp the power of the story. Jenny, an 11 year old girl is sent to live with her grandmother by the sea shore. The mystery begins. Jenny's grandmother tells her the story of her grandfather's death, the figure head of a ship washes up on the shore, and a mysterious man appears at their doorstep. A very grand mystery as well as an unforgettable love story. I recommend this book to anyone with a heart that beats and feels and loves.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
Before reading "The Eyes of the Amaryllis", I'd harbored the secret suspicion that Natalie Babbitt's best known work, "Tuck Everlasting", was a fluke. I don't mean to say that the great writing found in that book was of a fluke-like nature. I mean that I thought of Babbitt as a children's author who preferred to write realistic fiction and once, in the case of "Tuck", wrote something fantastical. I don't know where I got that idea. Maybe it came from "Tuck" itself. There's something about that book that feels a little too natural. Like the author would much rather be writing about hardcore issues and is just using the whole "living forever" thing as a metaphor. So when I picked up "The Eyes of the Amaryllis", I thought I'd know what to expect. A straightforward story about a girl and her grandmother by the sea. What I got instead was a supernatural thriller in which two mortal souls go head to head with forces they cannot hope to understand. Thrilling? You don't know the half of it.

Though named after her father's mother, Jenny Reade has never visited the old woman at her house by the sea. This is mostly because Jenny's father is afraid of that cruel old ocean. Years ago, when he was just a teen, her dad watched in horror as his father's ship, the Amaryllis, went down in a catastrophic storm. Since that time he has been afraid of the vastness of the ocean while his mother, the hardened woman Geneva Reade, has waited patiently for a sign from her drowned husband. When Jenny comes to stay with Geneva for a couple weeks, she thinks she's just going to do some chores and play by the seaside. Instead, she becomes enmeshed in a wild adventure. For while Geneva's husband does indeed send his wife a sign, the sea is not happy with the gift and demands it back.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kim on November 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is the BEST BOOK I EVER READ! It is very well written.It is a story about a girl who comes to live with her grandmother bythe sea and then finds out she has been waiting for thirty years for a sign from her husband, whom she loved dearly, who died in a shipwreck just off the shore. It is a ghost story, but also a story of neverending love.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
In 6th grade my favorite teacher had our class read my favorite book, The Eyes of the Amaryllis. I liked this book so much that I told my best friend (in another class) that she had to read it. She did and she loved it. And to my teacher's surprise my whole class loved it too! This book will stick with you forever once you read it. The Eyes of the Amaryllis will keep you reading until you finish, and once you finish you will be in awe of what a wonderful book this is! I LOVE this book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michele L. Worley on December 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Like things in fairy tales?"

"No, child. I mean - that all the daily things we do, and all the things we can touch and see in this world, are only one part of what's there, and that there's another world all around us all the time that's mostly hidden from us."

- the two Geneva Reades, herein

"'A brig, [the Amaryllis] was, a big two-master. A beautiful thing to see. Your grandfather owned her, and he was her captain, too. He sailed her up and down the coast from Maine to the Caribbean.'

'Did you ever go along?'

'No, I never did. Women aren't welcome on trading ships, you know...and yet in a way I did go along. Look more closely there. Do you see the figurehead? ...It's a likeness of me. That's an amaryllis I'm holding. A big red lily from the islands.'"

- the two Geneva Reades, herein

"Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it."

- Song of Solomon 8:7

For thirty years, Jenny Reade's grandmother has lived alone, refusing all her son's offers to make a new home with him, away from the sea that swallowed his father's ship, the _Amaryllis_, within sight of the house when he was only a boy. For the elder Geneva Reade wanted no other life than the one she'd had with the Captain, and she couldn't accept that it was over. She has kept vigil alone, walking the beach at every high tide, waiting for some relic of the _Amaryllis_ to be washed ashore. But it isn't just chance she puts her faith in...

The week before the story opens, Gran broke her ankle, and now her granddaughter Jenny is finally being allowed to spend a few weeks by the sea her father still fears as an ever-present reminder of his father's death.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Karusichan on March 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
"Your grandfather and I- what we felt for each other just doesn't stop."

Jenny (named Geneva after her grandmother) must go to live with her grandmother while a broken leg is on the mend. She uproots herself from a quiet life in Springfield to relocate to the seaside, in an old house that her father was raised in that has remained unchanged since an eventful date 30 years prior. Her feisty, yet stubborn, grandmother has only one thing in mind, to reconnect in some way with her husband who perished at sea 3 decades earlier.

At first Jenny is ambivalent about her grandmother and the home, knowing that her father left after his father's death has left some presupposed opinions of the life she leads here. Daily Geneva makes Jenny search the tide, desperately seeking some sign from her long dead husband that he is coming for her. Soon rumours of men who walk the shore and other oddities reach Jenny's ears and she begins to wonder if her stubborn grandmother has a good reason to be so, especially when a storm brings exactly what Geneva has been longing for, a sign from her husband.

Written by Newbery Honoree Natalie Babbitt "Amaryllis" is a wonderful tale of longing and the human heart. I still prefer "Tuck Everlasting", but I am quickly becoming such a fan of Babbitt's that I believe every child should read her work. She has wonderful tidbits of morality and the human condition peppered throughout her narratives, and morality tales have always been a huge favourite of mine. I recommend the "Amaryllis" to anyone who enjoys tales of the sea, of love, and a life devoted to loss.
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