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The Slightly True Story Of Cedar B. Hartley Hardcover – June 1, 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"After all, if you don’t ask the world questions, then you won’t ever work out where the rainbow begins." And, boy, does Cedar B. Hartley have questions! Like, why won’t her Mum tell her about her father, who died when Cedar was a baby? And what happened to her older brother Barnaby, who ran away from boarding school and keeps in touch sporadically through cryptic postcards? The only thing that helps Cedar forget these troubling questions is her new hobby; acrobatics. When she goes tumbling with her new friend Kite, who can fly just like the bird he was named for, she comes close to finding the start of that elusive rainbow. Missing brothers, mysterious fathers, and the funny, more-than-friends feeling she has for Kite aren't going to keep Cedar B. Hartley from finding the answers she’s looking for to fulfill her plan for an "unusual life!"

Debut Australian author Martine Murray is a writer to watch. Equal parts Pippi Longstocking and Anastasia Krupnik, her audacious Aussie tomboy Cedar will quickly charm the Capri pants off the female pre-teen set with her pithy sayings and sweet naiveté. A thoughtfully placed glossary of Cedar’s slang is included at the end of the novel for those young readers unfamiliar with the jargon "down-under." A delightful must-read for fans of Paula Danziger and Jacqueline Wilson. (Ages 12 and older) --Jennifer Hubert

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-In this tender growing-up story from Australia, 12-year-old, "exasperating and potentially infamous" Cedar B. Hartley misses her older brother who ran away from home, wonders about the circumstances of her father's death 11 years ago, and nourishes a friendship with Kite, boy acrobat. Her practice with him results in accomplished acrobatic routines, and their friendship gently evolves into romance. With unique and fully realized supporting characters and a multiethnic, urban environment, this story vibrates with authenticity. At a crucial moment, Cedar thinks, "Sometimes life hits you at such a startling lightning kind of angle, that you get pushed off your normal viewing spot. You stop knowing how things are. Instead of what you know, there are the patterns that stars make; the sound of the night breathing; the small aching spot where your feet touch the earth.- You think that if there is an It, you and It are nearly touching." This unique, vulnerable, and hugely likable protagonist has the potential to push readers off their "normal viewing spots." Small, wonderfully quirky line drawings accompany this breezy yet serious novel, which includes an amusing glossary of Australian terms.
Susan Patron, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Lexile Measure: 800L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books; First Edition edition (June 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 043948622X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439486224
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,780,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ariel Meadow Stallings VINE VOICE on October 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The first novel from Martine Murray, an Australian writer, illustrator, and acrobat, The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley follows around a 12-year-old Aussie tomboy with red hair and a great personality. Cedar is one of those gregarious almost-teenage girls we all wish we could have been, one who observes the world with a keen eye and open heart, and has her head squarely on her shoulders. She lives with her widowed hippy mother in a suburb filled with the sort of real people infrequently found in typical YA fiction...there's her friend Caramella, the daughter of Italian immigrants; Ricci, the older Yugoslavian with the little dog a fondness for Valium; and an assortment of wealthy and not-so-wealthy kids. Cedar's older brother is also part of the story, even though he's run away and communicates only via cryptic, poetic postcards.
The plot isn't an especially challenging one, but the characters and writing make it shine. Naturally, there must be a boy involved somewhere, but in this book it's not the handsome rich boy (that character is a bullying antagonist), but a tall kid named Kite, the son of circus performers. He and Cedar start practicing acrobatics together, and ultimately build a performance that involves Caramella as well as Oscar, an intelligent disabled friend of Kite's.
Cedar's voice is genuine and fantastic through-out the book, and I loved the slices of life that Murray expertly captures through Cedar's eyes. "Through the window you can see the dusty beams of light reaching down toward you, reaching all the way from heaven or the sun or from an angel's own eyes or whatever it is that watches from up there. I lie in that sunny patch and it makes me go quiet and small and as still as the dried up bugs on the windowsill.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is so delightfully simple and it's heroine so wonderfully quirky and complex that it's not much use to try and describe either. I'd recommend it to any teenage girl looking for a story that doesn't involve sex, violence or abusive families and has a happy ending. Every once in a while we all need to set our real lives aside and fantasize about the childhood we all wish we had and Cedar lets us do that.

The characters are so well drawn and fully formed that you don't miss the things a lot of other writers would feel compelled to include. We can empathize with Cedar as a girl on the brink of adulthood without having to see her get her first period or lose her virginity. This is a book reminiscent of The Brady Bunch, where six kids shared a bathroom with no toilet and no one complained. It's sweet without being sappy and real without being vulgar. The villains aren't inordinately cruel (no Draco Malfoys here) and most of the problems are solvable.

A person could talk (or write) all day and never manage to do this story justice so don't listen to me. Just do yourself a favor and read the book.
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By Ellie on March 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
Ilove this book. I read it a couple of years ago, but it's still one of my favorites. I love how Cedar describes things: a red ribbon of thought, many others that I'm afraid I don't quite remember. Martine Murray, I think, is someone I would like to know; I think she must be one of those who never really grew up, past the age where you know things. I'm only thirteen, and I can't even remember such a time. It's wonderful, so simple and whisical and true to life, so real. It's realer than life, because we all wish we knew people like Cedar and Kite and Caramella and Barnaby, and all the rest. It's really great for girls my age. And everyone else, too, come to think of it.
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Format: Hardcover
The characters in this novel are Cedar of course, her mom, brother, the friends she plays with in her neighborhood, and her dog. Cedar is exasperating and is potentially infamous. She steps on cracks. She plans to live an unusual life. She is the winner of her schools Bat Pole championship which is something she made up. She really misses her brother Barnaby who ran away. He also sends her postcards from all over the country. Her mom uses a metaphor to describe her daughter Cedar. She says Cedar is like a bull at a gate. Also she is a hopeless winker. Both of her eyes go at once like a blink. Cedar has potential. She knows the long distance between an idea and a real thing.

Things that I've really enjoyed about this novel is mostly everything. Things that I've liked was how Cedars brother ran away from home but he sends her postcards from all over the country. That was so touching to me. Also another thing that I've liked about the novel was when Cedars dog Stinky ran away and Cedar tries her best to find her best friend. She posted pictures of her dog everywhere to make sure that anyone who walked outside would see the pictures and hopefully help her find Stinky. Things that I've disliked in the novel was how she didn't really have anyone to play with on her block or in her neighborhood. That really touched me because if that ever happened to me I would also be disappointed. I would feel that way because I would want at least one person to talk to and play with.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy comedy and reading books about people growing up in the struggle.
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