Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 10 to 14
- Grade: 5 to 9
From Newbery Honor-- and National Book Award--winning author Polly Horvath comes another magical novel featuring a time machine, money, food and lots of family.
Ten-year-old Rupert Brown comes from an ordinary family. They live in a small house in the poorest section of Steelville, Ohio, and have little money or food. So when Rupert inadvertently finds himself spending Christmas at the house of Turgid River -- the richest boy in town -- he is blown away to discover a whole other world, including all the food he can eat and wonderful prizes that he wins when the family plays games, prizes he hopes to take home to his family so they can have Christmas presents for the very first time. But this windfall is short-lived when Rupert loses it all in one last game and goes home empty-handed. Each member of the Rivers family feels guilty about what happened and, unbeknownst to each other, tries to make it up to Rupert in their own unique way, taking him on one unlikely adventure after another.
About the author
Polly Horvath is one of the most highly acclaimed authors writing today. Her books include The Canning Season (winner of the National Book Award and the CLA Young Adult Book Award), Everything on a Waffle (a Newbery Honor Book, an ALA Notable Book and winner of the Mr. Christie's Book Award and the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize), The Trolls (a National Book Award finalist), My One Hundred Adventures (a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a Booklist Editors' Choice, a Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Book of the Year and winner of a NAPPA Gold Award and the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize), and Northward to the Moon (an Oprah's Book Club Kids' Reading List selection and winner of a Parents' Choice Gold Award). Her most recent book is Mr. and Mrs. Bunny — Detectives Extraordinaire!
- Short-listed, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards
- Short-listed, Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize
- Short-listed, Snow Willow Award
Excerpt: Very Rich (by (author) Polly Horvath)
Rupert Brown came from a large family. They lived in a very plain small house on the edge of Steelville, Ohio. Rupert had so many brothers and sisters that it was like living in a small city-state. They crawled over the furniture. They ran in and out of doors. They were big and small and male and female. They all had sandy-brown hair, pinched noses, high cheekbones and narrow lips. They were all thin.
There were so many children in the Brown family that Mrs. Brown claimed not to be able to remember all their names. She often addressed them by “Hey you.” Rupert had siblings he rarely talked to and hardly knew at all. There were many different alliances within the family, many secrets, many separate lives. Close proximity does not always make for coziness. Sometimes it is just crowded.
Rupert was ten, and he moved among his family largely unnoticed except by his favorite sister,
six-year-old Elise. She, like Rupert, was quiet and shy and spent a lot of time trying to keep out of everyone’s way.
One day before Christmas, Rupert’s teenage brothers John and Dirk came home with a cat. Because they were often bringing home stolen cats, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind about the origin of this cat. It was not a stray. Perhaps they secretly longed for a pet and this is why they did it, although what they told the family was that it was sport.
“Catch and release. Like fly-fishing. Only with cats,” explained John as he held the new one up for his mother to see. There was a wistful look in his eyes. Rupert wondered if he was hoping that his mother would fall in love with it and let them keep it.
“Did I not tell you to stop doing that!” shrieked Mrs. Brown, just home from her job cleaning the offices in the steelworks.
She tore across the room, grabbed the cat, and threw it into the backyard. Then she slammed the door.
Elise looked out the window in concern. “The cat isn’t moving,” she whispered as Rupert joined her.
“I’ll check,” Rupert whispered back. Their mother had gone to the kitchen to make the thin gruel of oatmeal that, along with other people’s kitchen scraps that their father collected every day, passed for dinner nightly.
All the Brown children tiptoed around their mother. Sometimes she lashed out. Sometimes she hoisted one of the younger Browns onto her lap to watch television and cuddled them as if this, this soft and comforting jolly person, was who she really was. Because you never knew which mother would emerge, it was better to err on the side of caution.
One of Quill & Quire's Books of the Year 2018
One of CCBC’S Best Books for Kids & Teens (Spring 2019)
PRAISE FOR Very Rich:
"[Very Rich] is fast-paced and filled with witty asides, creative scenarios, and a ridiculously entertaining cast." —STARRED REVIEW, Quill & Quire
"Horvath is at her odd, arch best." —Kirkus Reviews
"Packed with outrageous characters and moments of brilliant clarity, Horvath’s holiday romp touches on thankfulness and the importance of self-acceptance." —Publishers Weekly
“Very rich indeed! Clever quandaries, witty dialogue — all crisply written with giddy Horvath cheerfulness — topped off with a whipped cream message of wonderment that that will never grow old.” —Jack Gantos, author of the Newbery-award winning Dead End in Norvelt
“Very Rich is wild, wise, and wonderful.” —Julie Berry, author of The Passion of Dolssa, a Michael L. Printz Honor book, and The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place
"Readers who enjoy quirky, episodic adventure stories will find themselves swept along by the current of Horvath’s latest imaginative novel." —Booklist
“With Horvath’s familiar blend of wry humor and amiable weirdness, the story leaps from one entertaining comic absurdity to another.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“[A] wry and though-provoking, hilarious and poignant middle grade novel. . . . [T]his is a brainy, unusual, and entertaining confection.” —Horn Book Magazine