Sonderbooks     Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

More Info from

Rate this Book

Sonderbooks 40
    Previous Book
    Next Book

Young Adult Fiction
        Previous Book
        Next Book
Children's Nonfiction
Children's Fiction
Picture Books

2002 Stand-outs
Five-Star Books
Four-Star Books
Old Favorites
Back Issues
List of Reviews by Title
List of Reviews by Author

Links For Book Lovers

About Me
Contact Me
Post on Bulletin Board

I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations


***Surviving the Applewhites

by Stephanie S. Tolan

Reviewed October 29, 2002.
HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2002.  216 pages.
A 2003 Newbery Honor Book.
Available at Sembach Library (JF TOL)

Here’s a book home-schoolers will enjoy.  Although perhaps it will make home-schooled kids wish that their own family were as free-wheeling as the Applewhites.  (I don’t think that a real family could get away with such a loose curriculum and complete lack of testing.)

Jake Semple is in trouble.  Rumor has it that he burned down his school in Rhode Island, and after only a few weeks the middle school in Traybridge, North Carolina, has also kicked him out.  His grandfather isn’t sure what to do with him.  Then he gets an offer to enroll Jake in the Applewhite’s Home School—the Creative Academy at Wit’s End.

Every member of the large and chaotic Applewhite family is an artist, with the exception of E. D., who is Jake’s age and isn’t thrilled with the idea of sharing her lessons with Jake.  Jake soon finds that he can’t shock anyone who’s already used to eccentric behavior.  He gets drawn into the Applewhite family and their extremely nontraditional production of “The Sound of Music” in the local theater.  He finds his own passion by interacting with the passionate Applewhites.

This novel is simple fun.  I don’t really think it presents a realistic view of a home-schooled family, but I do think that such families may enjoy reading a book about a family like themselves, for a change.  Even kids who attend a traditional school will enjoy this book and find lots to laugh about.

Reader comment:  Will gives Surviving the Applewhites four stars, a rating of Outstanding.
Sammy also gives it four stars.
Ashley gives it two stars.  She says she didn't like it that much.
Katherine Woodard gives it five stars, an all-time favorite.

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

-top of page-