by Cynthia DeFelice
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 ned 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…
I run every morning I can with my German short-haired pointer, Josie, on a beautiful wooded trail along a stream in upstate New York. Hmmm…do you see any similarity with Owen’s life? Not surprisingly, the idea for this story came to me on one of those early morning runs.
“The heart of the story is the young people’s friendship. They tease each other, laugh together, and alo quarrel furiously. Owen’s immediate, first-person, present tense narrative shows both his loneliness and bossy Cam’s neediness. Always there is his warm bond with Josie, lovingly detailed, and readers will want this for the pet story as much as the suspenseful drama.”—Review, Booklist, August 1, 2009
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