Cynthia DeFelice is the award-winning author of over thirty books for young readers.
“I enjoy the thrill of creating a character out of thin air, and of feeling that character come to life beneath my fingers on the computer keyboard. I like working at two o’clock in the morning if I want to, and wearing pajamas or comfy clothes to work.
I try to write books that I would have loved to read when I was a child. It is very gratifying to hear from children that something I wrote touched them, making them laugh or cry, or think and feel something new.”
NELLY MAY HAS HER SAY
Erik Carlson has just passed the New York State Hunter Safety class, and is all set to go on his first-ever pheasant hunting trip, when his life is turned upside down. His Army reservist parents are both being unexpectedly deployed to Iraq. Instead of going hunting with his friend Patrick, Erik is shipped off to North Dakota to live with Big Darrell and Oma, grandparents he barely knows. Oma seems nice enough, but Erik finds Big Darrell to be unwelcoming and downright mean. When Erik rescues a dog that’s been stuck by a porcupine, Big Darrell says he can’t keep her. But Erik has already named the dog Quill and can’t bear to give her up. After finding his Uncle Dan’s shotgun and camping gear, Erik takes Quill and runs away, certain that they can make it on their own out on the prairie. Family relationships and old secrets complicate this wilderness survival story.
A Junior Library Guild Selection for Spring 2011
From School Library Journal, June 2011
“With both of his Army Reserve parents leaving for six-month deployments to Iraq, Erik, an upstate New York seventh grader, is sent to live with grandparents he hardly knows. He and his friend Patrick have just aced a course in bird hunting, but now he must leave that all behind as he flies to North Dakota to live with Oma and Big Darrell. He is disenchanted with his new setting and unhappy about the intimidating gruffness of his grandfather, but his spirit revives after finding a lost bird dog with a muzzle full of porcupine quills. Despite objections from Big Darrell, Erik eagerly cares for the healing dog he has named Quill. The two bond instantly, and the boy grows reluctant to return this exceptionally well-behaved dog once her owner is identified. Finding camping gear, outdoor clothing, and a shotgun in the shrine-like bedroom of his Uncle Dan, who died in the Vietnam War, Erik rationalizes a plan to take the gun, the dog, and other supplies and go live off the land. In some fine descriptive passages, the story advances through five days of bird-dog hunting, encountering snow, and sleeping under the stars until the reality of the situation finally brings them home to Oma and Big Darrell, who both offer forgiveness. Themes of accepting change and learning to let go are woven into this winning tale of boy and dog.”
Twelve year-old Owen McGuire is having a lonely summer. His mother died a year and a half ago, and after moving to a new town at the end of the school year, Owen and his workaholic father live together like two planets spinning in separate orbits. Owen spends his days with his best friend, his dog Josie, running on a trail through the woods in upstate New York. thinking about what his mother taught him about nature and the universe.
Then he finds a torn, blood-stained T-shirt, which leads him to Campion, a girl with startling green eyes, cuts all over her body, and a plan to signal her parents on another planet to come back to Earth to rescue her. And she needs Owen to help her…
A Junior Library Guild Selection for Fall 2009
Starred Review School Library Journal
*DEFELICE, Cynthia. Signal. 151p. CIP. Farrar. 2009. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-374-39915-3. LC 2008009278.
Gr 5-8–Twelve-year-old Owen McGuire is on his own during the summer after moving to New York ’s Finger Lakes region following his mother’s death. His dad is a workaholic who uses his job to distance himself from his grief. Owen, a resourceful youngster, spends his days riding his bike and exploring the woods with his dog. One day, he finds some bloody clothing and sees someone running through the cornfield. Thus begins the connection between two lonely youngsters, and Owen becomes dedicated to helping Campion. She tells him that she is from another planet and that her parents will come for her in four days. All she has to do is make circles in the cornfield to signal her location so they can land the spaceship. Owen is skeptical, but then he begins to believe. He takes her food and helps her hide from the sinister-looking man who is searching for her, and to collect the materials to build the signal. The bond between the two intensifies, each relying on the other to fill the voids in their lives. DeFelice has created wonderfully fleshed out, believable, sympathetic characters in these youngsters and a story rich in understanding, pathos, and humor. Owen, Campion, and Owen’s dad are all dealing with loss and betrayal in different ways. Campion’s dream affects them all and leads to a promising, though a bit convenient, resolution. This is a beautifully written story of friendship, loyalty, and trust.–Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School , Montvale , NJ