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The Romeo and Juliet Code

By Phoebe Stone

Mysterious letters. A secret code. An utterly adorable first crush.

Felicity's glamorous parents don't tell her anything when they drop her off at the Bathburn house in Maine. They don't tell her why Uncle Gideon acts so strangely. They don't tell her why Derek, the only other kid in the house, refuses to come out of his room. Worst of all, Felicity's parents don't tell her where they are going, and won't say when they'll return.

And then the letters start coming, in slim blue Air Mail envelopes. Felicity is sure they're from her parents, but if so, why are they in code? Will Felicity discover just what the Bathburns are hiding? Can one person heal an entire family -- all while in the throes of her first big crush? It's a tall order for a small girl, but Felicity is determined to crack the Romeo and Juliet code.

Reviews and Awards

A Boston Globe Best Book of the Year, 2011

⋆ “Stone's (Deep Down Popular) intricate and lyrical novel, set during WWII, resembles The Secret Garden in all the best ways. Bright and bold Felicity Bathburn Budwig's parents leave her with her father's family in Maine, without an explanation, far from her beloved and endangered home in England. In addition to culture shock, 11-year-old Felicity is frustrated with her quirky and closed-mouthed relatives, including secretive Uncle Gideon and Shakespeare-obsessed Aunt Miami. When Uncle Gideon begins receiving letters from Portugal in her father's handwriting, Felicity and Captain Derek, a 12-year-old recovering from polio, set out to find answers and solve the many mysteries of the "large, dark house full of rifts and lies." Felicity is a deeply empathetic heroine, and as she informs readers of the ways of British children ("British children are usually very brave. I saw many, many of them getting on trains in London... going alone to the countryside to get away from the bombs"), she reveals much about the hardships facing young Londoners during the war. Stone's accomplished tale provides a romantic yet realistic perspective on family, perseverance, and adaptation.” - Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[Felicity] is endearingly portrayed, and the back story, so gradually revealed, provides a peek into the depths of the souls of some of the adults.... An eminently satisfying read.” - Kirkus Reviews

“In lyrical prose, Stone conjures up America on the brink of WWII through the eyes of a delightful British girl. The apprehensions of impending war are intermittently broken up by humor, mystery, romance, and literary allusions. Truly charming, this coming-of-age historical novel has an old-fashioned feel and will resonate with fans of Frances Hodgson Burnett and Jeanne Birdsall’s Penderwicks books.” - Booklist

“[W]ith witty self-possession, this thoughtful heroine decides that she must untangle the narrative strands around her. What she discovers, and how she discovers it, should keep children ages 8-13 engaged, amused and, eventually, stirred.” - Wall Street Journal

“Pair this up with Noel Streatfeild’s “Shoes” books (Random) or Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn Dixie (Candlewick, 2000) as a quietly touching story of finding one’s place in the world.” - School Library Journal

⋆ “The story’s strands satisfyingly come together in a plot full of intrigue, with well-integrated historical and literary references. On top of all that, Flissy is a kick, her ever-so-proper manners and stuffy Briticisms belied by her abundant curiosity and consequent meddling…. [P]ass the volume along to middle-graders seeking a suspenseful, accessible, and not-too-dangerous World War II spy story.” - Horn Book, starred review

Spring 2011
Middle Grade Novel
ISBN: 978-0-545-21511-4
Price: $16.99 / $19.99
Trim Size: 5 1/2" x 7 1/2"
Page Count: 304
Foreign Rights: Scholastic
Translation Rights: Scholastic
Rights Available? yes

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