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Children's Fiction New Experience

Pick-Up Sticks

by (author) Sarah Ellis

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Sep 2014
New Experience, Adoption
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 1992
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2014
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7
  • Reading age: 9 to 12


Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award


Polly loves her life. Her small but cozy bedroom by the stained glass window made by her artist mother, the nutty schemes of her best friend Vanessa, the Protheroes who live downstairs -- it all seems so right that Polly hardly notices that she's never known her father.


But when the house is suddenly sold, and it becomes obvious that her mother isn't very good at finding a new home that they can afford, Polly begins to doubt that her life was so perfect after all. Unwilling to move temporarily into her mother's studio, Polly goes to live with her rich uncle and his family. One day, a nasty blow-up with her cousin makes Polly realise where her home really is, and helps her to confront her anger at her mother's long-ago decision to have a baby on her own.


Sarah Ellis's sense of humor and perfect control of voice leaven her often very serious subjects, making Pick-Up Sticks a warm, moving, and very funny novel.

About the author

Sarah Ellis is one of Canada's most-loved children's writers. A former librarian, she is a highly sought-after children's book reviewer, literary jury member and speaker who lectures internationally on Canadian children's books. She is the winner of the Governor General's Award (Pick-Up Sticks), the Mr. Christie's Award (Out of the Blue and The Several Lives of Orphan Jack) and the Sheila A. Egoff Award (The Baby Project, Back of Beyond and Odd Man Out). Further accolades for Odd Man Out include the prestigious TD Canadian Children's Literature Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award Master List, ALA Notable Book for Older Readers, Maine State Library Cream of the Crop List and OLA Best Bets - Top 10 Fiction for Children. Sarah Ellis has also won the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work. Sarah is on the faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Sarah Ellis' profile page


  • Long-listed, OLA Silver Birch Award
  • Winner, Governor General's Literary Awards: Text

Editorial Reviews

Ellis' insights are perceptive and have an unmistakable ring of honesty.

Horn Book

The characters...are the kind of unique, well-rounded personalities readers expect from this fine Canadian author.

Kirkus Reviews

Drawn with humor and compassion - what will grab kids is the sharp and affectionate view of the way we live now.


Other titles by Sarah Ellis