Gregory Maguire has written a number of books of realistic fiction for upper grade school and middle school readers. All are available in
paperback editions. They include:
student Hand Gunther is having a terrible year. Coming home from a track
meet, he discovers the corpse of his father, who has apparently died of a
heart attack. In the months that follow, Hand's mother returns to the
family she abandoned to take up her position as the head of the household.
The shabby motel they manage, the Oasis, needs reorganization both inside
and out in order to provide any sort of succor that its name implies. As
Hand and his mother and sister argue, other matters impinge. Under what
circumstances did Mr. Gunther actually die? What is mysterious Uncle
Wolfgang up to? Can the visiting refugees from the Mideast find a safe
home for themselves in rural America? And is there any way, really, to
Twelve-year-old Alice Colossus lives in a Catholic orphanage run
by nuns. She is part deaf and her speech is not all it should be, either.
Her life is thrown into disarray when her favorite companion, an ancient
nun named Sister Vincent de Paul, is burned in a kitchen fire and removed
from the convent. But further complications abound. It turns out that
Alice Colossus may have been one of a pair of twins. Her sister, who is
not afflicted with Alice's disabilities, was adopted long ago. Can Alice
find her missing sister? Will the adoptive family make room for Alice?
When it comes to loving the abandoned, how much capacity does any one
THE GOOD LIAR
A family of three boys lives out its early years during the
German Occupation of France in the early 1940's. The father has been
conscripted to work in Germany, and the mother is terrified that even in
their small village harm will come to her sons. Practicing the noble skill
of lying, the boys engage in sleight-of-tongue with ever increasing risk,
until the arrival of a young German soldier lonely for his own younger
siblings threatens not only limb but life.... The Good Liar has
been highly praised for its handling of a complex moral question: Is it
ever just and permissible to lie?
Gregory Maguire's first three published
novels were all fantasies: The Lightning Time (1978), The
Daughter of the Moon (1980), and Lights on the Lake (1981).
Though out of print for some time, these book for ages 9 to 12 can be
found in libraries. They form an informal series, dealing with magical
doings in the upstate New York town of Canaan Lake.
novel, The Dream Stealer(1983), was reissued in hardcover by
Clarion Books. It was Gregory Maguire's first effort at the novelization
of a fairy tale, an exercise that came to fruition in his adult novels ten
years later, Wicked and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister.
The Dream Stealer takes place in a fabulous Czarist Russia, where
magical firebirds can still be seen flying alongside steam engines of
Russian railroads. Cheek by jowl with Russian Orthodox priests and
peasants lives the cranky old witch, Baby Yaga, in her magical hut that
walks about on chicken legs. Dreading the impending arrival of a wolf so
fierce it has a name—the Blood Prince—two peasant children named Pasha and
Lisette seek the help of the witch so that their humble village of Miersk
might survive the arrival of the demon wolf.
From time to time Gregory
Maguire has tried his hand at the text for picture books. It isn't an easy
thing. He likens the requirements of a strong picture book text to that of
a sonnet--or a souffle. With minimal text the work must be strong,
coherent, and light, and the effort of constructing it must not show. (No
eggshells. No illicit contractions.) Generally he thinks that he is novice
a writer of picture books as he is clumsy a cook and unsubtle a sonneteer.
However, he has published three books: Lucas Fishbone (Harper,
1990), The Peace and Quiet Diner (Parents Magazine Press, 1988) and
Crabby Cratchitt (Clarion, 2000).
Cratchitt, with pictures by Andrew Glass, tells the tale of a cranky
old farmer who is distressed because her noisy hen interrupts her rest.
The text begins in a rollicking way:
Cratchitt had a farm, E-I-E-I-oh
And on that farm she had a hen,
With a cluck cluck here and a cluck cluck there,
much clucking everywhere.
Here a cluck, there a cluck.
like a record stuck.
At naptime Crabby liked to rest.
the hen would cluck with zest.
a little more dangerous in stanza two:
Crachitt had a hatchet, E-I-E-I-oh.
To cook a bird, you have to catch
follows is zany mayhem masking a serious question: When the hen is
attacked by a greedy fox, does Crabby rejoice, or does she have a sudden
change of heart? The refrain asks the question of young readers:
Crabby Cratchitt do?
If you were Crabby, what would you?
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