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  • March 2010
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It’s the Hard Knock Life!

As a little girl I was obsessed with the idea of being noble and tragic—more than anything, I wanted to be an orphan. Ideally, an orphan who road the rails or had an awful case of TB. This had nothing to do with my parents, who were (and still are) both lovely people. I was just really weird. Probably a little too sensitive and weird for my own good, I thought that nothing seemed more noble and tragic (and FUN!) than being an orphan. From the Box Car Kids to The Secret Garden, from Oliver Twist to Pippi Longstocking I would read (and often reenact) any tragic orphan saga I came across. My very favorite book as a little ‘un was actually a picture book called Jellybeans for Breakfast.

My mom was horrified by my attachment to this book, since the plot (as it were) basically revolved around two girls running away to the woods where they lived in a treehouse full of forest critters. This book was my version of Where the Wild Things Are, and I would check it out from my public library religiously. I recently searched for this book (over 20 years later), and was sad to find it had been out-of-print for some time, and is only available now for a steep price.

However, until I find a copy of this book at a garage sale someday, I am perfectly happy to browse all of the noble and tragic books found in the CLP Teen Department. If you too feel like getting in touch with your inner orphan, I recommend checking out one of these fantasticly tragic titles:

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

Twelve-year-old Ren grows up in a New England orphanage unaware of where he came from or how he lost his left hand. Then a mysterious stranger shows up claiming to be his long-lost brother, and he is pulled into a dangerous underworld of scam artists, petty criminals, and resurrection men…is this stranger really Ren’s brother, or perhaps a darker character from his past?

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

It’s 1888, and Will Henry is a twelve-year-old orphan working for one Dr. Warthrop, a scientist who hunts and studies real-life monsters. After a grave robber brings a dangerous find into Warthrop’s lab, it is up to Will to help stop the gruesome, gory events that follow.

Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge

Mosca Mye lives in a world where books have become banned. When she was a child her father, an author, was killed because of his love of literature. Now an orphan, Mosca must travel to the city of Mandelion with a con-man to take up her own fight for the freedom of language.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Orphaned Mary lives in a post-apocalyptic future full of constraints. Ever since the entire human population turned into flesh-eating zombies long ago, Mary’s village has isolated itself from the outside world, protecting itself with a giant fence that keeps out the surrounding “forest of hands and teeth.” Will Mary find the courage to find what lies beyond the fence?

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

After the gruesome death of his entire family, Nobody Owens wanders into a graveyard where ghosts and ghouls of all manner agree to raise him as one of their own. Living is easy inside the graveyard, but far more difficult in the realm of the living.

Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen

High school senior Ruby is taken in by a sister she has not seen for ten years, after being abandoned by her alcoholic mother. Will Ruby finally be able to have a family, or will her new life inevitably lead to the same old let-downs?

Enjoy the suffering!

-Tara

One Response

  1. Oh, my goodness. I have not thought about Jellybeans For Breakfast in years, probably over two decades. I had that book as well, and read it many times. I recognized that cover immediately.

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