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The Romeo And Juliet Code Hardcover – January 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-6-Eleven-year-old Felicity Bathburn Budwig does not appreciate being deposited in Bottlebay, ME, by her parents, but she understands the necessity as it is 1941 and London is under constant bombardment by the Germans. She is welcomed into her father's family's Victorian house populated by The Gram, Aunt Miami, Uncle Gideon, and the reclusive "Captain Derek," who turns out to be a boy recovering from polio. Felicity and Derek team up to discover why Gideon receives letters from her father that she is not supposed to see and to puzzle out the code they contain. In doing so, the girl uncovers family secrets surrounding her parents' estrangement from the Bathburn clan. Felicity's internal observations propel this mystery forward with good effect. She rather resembles a combination of Noel Streatfeild's English waifs and Polly Horvath's Primrose from Everything on a Waffle (Farrar, 2001). Her insecure whisperings to her bear, Wink, show her private feelings in an endearing flashback to childhood, and readers will identify with the protagonist in all her schemes. The girl's thoughts articulate clues for readers to notice, making this a story truly told through the eyes of its narrator. Her perspective is not necessarily accurate, yet just like the codes she deciphers, it allows readers to uncover the truth. Pair this up with Noel Streatfeild's "Shoes" books (Random) or Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn Dixie (Candlewick, 2000) as a quietly touching story of finding one's place in the world.-Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Because of the bombing of London, 11-year-old Felicity is taken by her parents to live with relatives in Maine in 1941. She slowly adjusts to her new family, including Uncle Gideon, who teaches sixth grade at the local school; Aunt Miami, who lives and breathes Shakespeare; “The Gram,” Felicity’s grandmother; and Derek, a 12-year-old adopted orphan whose dreams of military service have been dashed by a bout with polio. Felicity’s engaging personality and curiosity about letters arriving from Portugal written in code “stir up the soup” of life in the Bathburn household, but only time will tell if that’s a good thing. In lyrical prose, Stone conjures up America on the brink of WWII through the eyes of a delightful British girl. The apprehensions of impending war are intermittently broken up by humor, mystery, romance, and literary allusions. Truly charming, this coming-of-age historical novel has an old-fashioned feel and will resonate with fans of Frances Hodgson Burnett and Jeanne Birdsall’s Penderwicks books. Grades 5-8. --Melissa Moore
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 850L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books; First Edition edition (January 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545215110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545215114
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By morethanpaula on March 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a story written from the inside out, through the eyes and heart of an 11 year old child. The plot has been revealed by other reviewers. But the feelings of loneliness, frustration, discovery and love can only be caught in the author's poetic, nuanced language - so linked to the magnificent coastal Maine setting. The poetry is also linked to a crew of interesting and irrepressible characters, a touch of adventure, a hint of romance and humor -- all likely to entice more mature elementary and middle school children. Flissy, Derek and their quirky family grow beyond themselves without even realizing it. And we the readers are offered the gift of seeing beyond our daily trials to the strength and beauty of human spirit. I prided myself in guessing the gist of the ending well before it came. But that didn't stop me from crying when it did come. And my tears were not all sad! This is a very human lesson in history that will touch readers to the core--as if it were happening right now.

P.S. I am a children's librarian and come across many new books and am moved to review very few. Trust me. This one is a winner.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on February 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Eleven-year-old Felicity Bathburn Budwig is a very proper British girl. She is stoic, plucky, and knows how to knit. She is a big fan of the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, and proud of Britain's involvement in the war against Germany. But life in London amid the air raids is getting just too dangerous for children, so Felicity's parents, Winnie and Danny, manage to arrange passage for the family to America, where Danny's family lives on the coast of Maine.

Winnie and Danny drop off Felicity --- and her beloved companion, the stuffed bear Wink --- with Danny's family, whom Felicity has never met before. They then leave to go back to England --- or so Felicity believes. All through the rest of that summer, there is little word from Winnie and Danny. No mail for Felicity, only mysterious letters for Danny's brother Gideon, bearing postmarks from Portugal. Gideon won't let Felicity see the letters, so she takes matters into her own hands, uncovering surprising information about Danny and Winnie along the way.

These aren't the only family secrets Felicity discovers during her stay in Maine. Her American relatives are unusual, even if America isn't quite the wild frontier she had always imagined. Uncle Gideon is both goofy and sad, holding secrets and bearing grudges that Felicity doesn't understand. Her Aunt Miami adores Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and dreams of a life on the stage, even though she's terrified when that opportunity finally arises. And then there's the unseen recluse Captain Derek, yet another mystery for Felicity to figure out. At first, she's not sure about these new American relatives, especially when they give her a nickname (Flissy) and seem reluctant to answer so many of her questions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Library Lady on July 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In Romeo and Juliet Code, I found great humor, loyalty to family no matter the circumstances and friendship beyond all means. Character, Felicity made the best of her situation with being dropped of by her parents with relatives in Maine (please don't just read the book because of the State of Maine!). I can picture the huge house with lots of family and quirky family issues. The book took a bit to get moving, but once it did, it was a great story. I suggest the book for 10-12 year olds that understand the dynamics of WWII. Suggested for large church libraries.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
It seems unfair that my attention was first drawn to "The Romeo and Juliet Code" because of its cover. No book deserves to be held responsible for its misleading jacket and Phoebe Stone's latest is no exception. Set during the Second World War, the book looks like a rejected shot from a GAP catalog more than a historical novel (pink Converse?? Really??). When ire was aimed at the jacket early on I remember many a supporter saying, "It's such a pity it has that cover because the story is wonderful!" Willing to give it the benefit of the doubt (after all, "The Trouble with May Amelia" has a similar problem and is a magnificent bit of writing) I plucked up a copy from a friend and started to read. Oh my. No book, as I say, deserves to be held responsible for the sins of its jacket, but this book has sins of its own above and beyond its packaging. Ostensibly a kind of mystery for kids, folks with a low twee tolerance would do best to steer clear of this one. It is indeed beloved in its own right but this particular reviewer found its style to be strangely grating. As historical fiction goes, this does not go to the top of my list.

Flissy has found herself unceremoniously dumped. One minute she is living happily in her flat in England with her parents Winnie and Danny (though she doesn't much care for the bombing going on outside). Next thing she knows they've managed to hitch a ride on a ship bound for America and she is left in the care of an unmarried uncle, an unmarried aunt, and a grandmother, none of whom she has ever met before. Her initial homesickness and loneliness are partly appeased when she starts uncovering the secrets lurking in the house.
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