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9780888998514_cover Enlarge Cover
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list price: $12.95
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
published: Sep 2007
ISBN:9780888998514

The Corps of the Bare-Boned Plane

by Polly Horvath

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alternative family, humorous stories, death & dying
5 of 5
1 rating
rated!
rated!
list price: $12.95
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
published: Sep 2007
ISBN:9780888998514
Description

Winner of the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize

The Corps of the Bare-Boned Plane is filled with plot twists and extraordinarily strange characters. It is also a moving meditation on loss and finding family in the most unlikely places.

Teenage cousins Meline and Jocelyn are sent to live on a private island with their eccentric uncle following the death of their parents. The girls, who are barely on speaking terms, must find a way to deal with their grief, with only their distant, scholarly uncle, a crazy Holocaust-survivor housekeeper and a mysterious butler for company.

This moving novel, told in four characters' voices, is a layered account of a bad year from multiple points of view. Polly Horvath, one of Canada's greatest authors for children, once again brings humor and pain together in a cathartic, hopeful story that rises out of the wreckage of what might seem to be desperate lives.

Contributor Notes

Polly Horvath has written many outstanding books for children, including The Canning Season (National Book Award, CLA Young Adult Book Award); Everything on a Waffle (Newbery Honor Book, ALA Notable Book, Mr. Christie’s Book Award, Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize); The Corps of the Bare-boned Plane (Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize); The Vacation (Child Magazine Best Book Award, Chocolate Lily Award); My One Hundred Adventures (NAPPA Gold Award, Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize, Parents’ Choice Gold Award) and Northward to the Moon (Parents’ Choice Gold Award, Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize Finalist, Oprah’s Reading List). She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
Age:
14 to 100
Grade:
p to 17
Reading age:
0
Awards
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens
  • Winner, Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize
  • Long-listed, Bolen Books Children's Book Prize
  • Short-listed, CLA Young Adult Book of the Year Award
Editorial Reviews

Horvath has the uncanny ability to use ridiculous and sometimes anachronistic characters to soberly illuminate timeless truths - in this case, the lengths to which people will go to avoid facing their own feelings...Highly recommended.

— CM Magazine

Horvath's prose has rarely been more incisive: she understands the workings of grief and conveys them with uncanny accuracy and sympathy...Unsparing, often grim, this book rejects false hopes in favor of fragile strivings for truth.

— Publishers Weekly

Told from various points of view, with humour and empathy, we see how these very different people gradually form an odd kind of household and...begin to heal.

— KLIATT

Horvath has a gift of looking at the dark side of life...while still promising love and consolation. Once again she explores loss, sorrow, and the crustiness that makes humans not entirely loveable in a novel that's wise, eccentric and honest.

— Toronto Star

Horvath applies her familiar, gently comic touch to the story of Meline and Jocelyn...the real pleasure lies in listening in as Horvath's quirky characters search for a way to fly above unthinkable pain and ultimately find their won happy endings.

— Quill & Quire

Horvath's writing is sophisticated and complex, filled with baffling characters, gothic situations, and darkly hilarious scenes.

— Book Links

...an engaging story that would make a good read-aloud. Recommended.

— Library Media Connection

Horvath is a gifted writer...passages invite immediate rereading and admiration.

— School Library Journal

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Reader Reviews

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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

The Corps of the Bare Boned Planes

In the blink of an eye, teenage cousins Meline and Jocelyn find themselves orphaned, and on their way to live with a mysterious and eccentric uncle on an isolated island in BC. As they drift through the weeks and months that seem to pass without notice on the island, a host of other equally mysterious and eccentric characters drift onto the island, which becomes a sort of refuge from their difficulties.

Author Polly Horvath does an excellent job giving a unique voice to each of the four central characters, as they clean up their personal wreckage and the wreckage on the island. The dominant narrator is 15-year-old Meline, who is perhaps the most observant of the characters, but desperately tries to avoid thinking about the train wreck which killed her parents, and upset her existence. Jocelyn, the elder of the two by a few months, is more reserved and introspective, but is haunted by death and grief. Uncle Marten, a classic absent minded type, is deliberately oblivious and self-involved. The fourth voice belongs to the housekeeper Mrs. Mendelbaum, who avoids her own problems by meddling in those of the others. Interspersed with Yiddish expressions (defined by a glossary at the back), Mrs. Mendelbaum’s observations are blunt and insightful, but her own portrait is defined by the observations of others, and not her own. Added to the mix, is a mysterious butler named Humdinger, whose story is told through the narratives of others.

What the narratives all have in common is a sense of murkiness, allowing the reader small glimpses of what is beneath the surface, while requiring them to ask questions and draw their own inferences, filling in the puzzle pieces until the final picture is revealed. Overall, this is an engaging and thought provoking read, and fans of Horvath’s other work will not be disappointed.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Winter 2008. Vol.31 No.1.

Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

The Corps of the Bare-Boned Plane

Following the death of their parents, cousins Jocelyn and Meline go to live with their eccentric uncle, with only a crazy Holocaust-survivor housekeeper and a mysterious butler for company. Told in four characters’ voices, this story is a moving meditation on loss and finding family in unlikely places.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2008.

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