Surviving the Applewhites

by Stephanie S. Tolan

Jake Semple is a bad kid. He’s been kicked out of one school after another,... read more

Jake Semple is a bad kid. He’s been kicked out of one school after another, including one that he is suspected of burning down. In a last ditch attempt, his grandfather places Jake at the “Creative Academy,” a home school run by the artistic Applewhite family for their own children. The adult Applewhites maintain a hands-off policy towards their children’s education, allowing them to develop their own lessons based on their interests of the moment. Only E.D., twelve years old and the “non-artistic” Applewhite, shows an academic bent, and Jake is directed to tag along on her self-directed, carefully orchestrated curriculum. The two are immediately at odds with one another, but the rest of the Applewhite clan surprise Jake with their tolerance for his radical hair color, multiple facial piercings, and off-color language. The larger-than-life plot includes a color- and gender-blind production of the Sound of Music , in which Jake finds his niche playing Rolf. Jake surprises everyone, himself included, with his real musical talent and interest in theater. At the same time, E.D. begins to appreciate her own strengths as she excels in the position of stage manager. The entertaining Applewhite’s eccentricities provide a colorful backdrop as two young adolescents begin to travel the path to self-discovery. (Ages 11-14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2003

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