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The House That Wasn't There



by
Elana K. Arnold

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
HarperCollins
Imprint
Walden Pond Press
ISBN
9780062937063
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
None
$19.56   $16.30
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From Elana K. Arnold, National Book Award finalist and author of A Boy Called Bat, comes a wondrous coming-of-age novel about two kids discovering that there’s more that connects us than we’ll ever know—a story Katherine Applegate calls "heart-healing, hopeful, and wonderfully inventive."

Alder has always lived in his cozy little house in Southern California. And for as long as he can remember, the old, reliable, comforting walnut tree has stood between his house and the one next door. That is, until a new family—with a particularly annoying girl his age—moves into the neighboring house and, without warning, cuts it down.

Oak doesn’t understand why her family had to move to Southern California. She has to attend a new school, find new friends, and live in a new house that isn’t even ready—her mother had to cut down a tree on their property line in order to make room for a second floor. And now a strange boy next door won’t stop staring at her, like she did something wrong moving here in the first place.

As Oak and Alder start school together, they can’t imagine ever becoming friends. But the two of them soon discover a series of connections between them—mysterious, possibly even magical puzzles they can’t put together. At least not without each other’s help.

Award-winning author Elana K. Arnold returns with an unforgettable story of the strange, wondrous threads that run between all of us, whether we know they’re there or not.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
None

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

288

Trim Size

8 3/10" x 5 1/2"

Dewey

F

AR

0: points 0

Genre

Fiction

Scholastic Reading Counts

0

JLG Release

Aug 2021

Book Genres

Magical Realism

Topics

Friendship. Moving households. New neighbors. Grief. Mothers. Cats and kittens. Physics. School. Family life.

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Cover Art

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Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 3-7–Adler and his new neighbor, Oak, are pretty certain they are not going to be friends. Sure, they live next door to each other, are both named after trees, and are in the same sixth grade class, but Adler isn’t sure he can forgive Oak after her family cuts down the big walnut tree that sat between their houses. Neither is he sure he can forgive how easily she makes friends at a new school in a new city, when his own best friend since kindergarten is acting distant and weird. But the universe seems determined to throw Adler and Oak together—well, the universe, a portal to another dimension, a couple of kittens, a school project, and a taxidermy opossum named Mort. Arnold takes on themes of friendship, family, loss, and growth in this novel. Adler and Oak, both white, are well-rounded characters with flaws, interests, and a realistic range of emotions. Oak, for example, hates that she was not consulted about her family’s move but also understands what a great opportunity it presented her mom. She misses San Francisco and her friends but starts to make new friends and feel more at home in L.A. Adler slowly begins to let his interests be known to someone other than his closest friend and finds new friends along the way. There are a lot of coincidences that may not hold up if looked at too closely, but readers won’t want to pick them apart. VERDICT Arnold creates a world that is both completely normal and wonderfully magical, and readers will want to be a part of it. Recommended.–Heather Webb, Worthington Libs., OH

Horn Book

Eleven-year-old Alder and his mother have lived on Rollingwood Drive in Los Angeles “since before he could remember.” Their relationship with new neighbors, a girl named Oak and her family, starts badly when Oak’s mother cuts down an old walnut tree. Alder resists Oak’s subsequent attempts at friendships, while Oak deals with the challenge of being a new kid. When the two independently adopt kittens, who turn out to be siblings, the kids’ new pets draw them into an unexplained situation involving a house that suddenly appears between their two houses—and then disappears. Thanks to a book Oak finds called Feline Teleportation, they begin to suspect that their kittens have supernatural powers, and a friendship slowly grows as the two investigate. They also take a DNA test as part of a class project, which ends up revealing an even closer connection. While the fantasy elements add mystery (and set up readers’ suspension of disbelief, required for the ending), the book also effectively explores the realities of friendship and family, creating a world where Alder and Oak find navigating cafeteria seating arrangements and investigating their kittens’ teleportation skills equally real and challenging. SARAH RETTGER

Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 3-7–Adler and his new neighbor, Oak, are pretty certain they are not going to be friends. Sure, they live next door to each other, are both named after trees, and are in the same sixth grade class, but Adler isn’t sure he can forgive Oak after her family cuts down the big walnut tree that sat between their houses. Neither is he sure he can forgive how easily she makes friends at a new school in a new city, when his own best friend since kindergarten is acting distant and weird. But the universe seems determined to throw Adler and Oak together—well, the universe, a portal to another dimension, a couple of kittens, a school project, and a taxidermy opossum named Mort. Arnold takes on themes of friendship, family, loss, and growth in this novel. Adler and Oak, both white, are well-rounded characters with flaws, interests, and a realistic range of emotions. Oak, for example, hates that she was not consulted about her family’s move but also understands what a great opportunity it presented her mom. She misses San Francisco and her friends but starts to make new friends and feel more at home in L.A. Adler slowly begins to let his interests be known to someone other than his closest friend and finds new friends along the way. There are a lot of coincidences that may not hold up if looked at too closely, but readers won’t want to pick them apart. VERDICT Arnold creates a world that is both completely normal and wonderfully magical, and readers will want to be a part of it. Recommended.–Heather Webb, Worthington Libs., OH

Horn Book

Eleven-year-old Alder and his mother have lived on Rollingwood Drive in Los Angeles “since before he could remember.” Their relationship with new neighbors, a girl named Oak and her family, starts badly when Oak’s mother cuts down an old walnut tree. Alder resists Oak’s subsequent attempts at friendships, while Oak deals with the challenge of being a new kid. When the two independently adopt kittens, who turn out to be siblings, the kids’ new pets draw them into an unexplained situation involving a house that suddenly appears between their two houses—and then disappears. Thanks to a book Oak finds called Feline Teleportation, they begin to suspect that their kittens have supernatural powers, and a friendship slowly grows as the two investigate. They also take a DNA test as part of a class project, which ends up revealing an even closer connection. While the fantasy elements add mystery (and set up readers’ suspension of disbelief, required for the ending), the book also effectively explores the realities of friendship and family, creating a world where Alder and Oak find navigating cafeteria seating arrangements and investigating their kittens’ teleportation skills equally real and challenging. SARAH RETTGER

Grades 3-5
Intermediate Readers
For Grades 3-5

A wide variety of novels and accessible nonfiction for younger elementary readers who love a good story comprise this category of 12 books per year. The focus in these titles is primarily on the text, though some novels may feature illustration.

12 books per Year
$195.60 per Year
Interests
Chapter Books,Fiction,Transitional Readers
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Grades 3-5
Intermediate Readers
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