School Library Journal
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Gr 5-8-The endearing family of freewheeling artists from Surviving the Applewhites (HarperCollins, 2002) returns for an encore that is cleverly plotted, emotionally satisfying, and highly entertaining. When the Applewhites are faced with financial ruin, Randolph, theater director and father, comes up with a typically ambitious idea: turning Wit's End, their 16-acre North Carolina home, into a summer camp for creative kids, with each family member mentoring his or her artistic passion-be it acting, dance, poetry, writing, or art. Everyone will have to pitch in, including 13-year-old E.D., whose talents lie in organization rather than creative expression, and 14-year-old Jake Semple, a homeschooler who had come to Wit's End as a last-chance delinquent and since discovered his own passion for musical theater. Of course, nothing goes as anticipated. Not only are the campers unexpectedly demanding and independent-minded, wreaking havoc with E.D.'s schedule, but there is also a mysterious man lurking about and threatening notes keep arriving. Never fear, E.D. and Jake take charge and inspire the usually contentious Applewhites-and the campers-to work as an ensemble and devise a creative solution. Tolan handles the large cast of characters with elan, deftly conveying each individual's quirky personality. E.D. and Jake are painted with believability and insight as their relationship evolves from enemies to allies to possible romance. Themes of creativity, individuality, and cooperation are explored as the roller-coaster plot unfolds and humorous moments abound.-Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
The Newbery Honor Book Surviving the Applewhites (2002) introduced the Applewhites, a madcap family of artists, and Jake, a city boy who finds a home in the country. Creativity reigns! Alas, in this sequel, the Applewhites are in dire straits. Their compound (formerly a motor lodge), called Wit's End, is in danger of being grabbed by the tax man. What to do? Well, turn Wit's End into a summer camp for artistic geniuses, of course. Tolan has several full plates here. Added to the already big crew of regulars are six campers and a mysterious trespasser; a family tree and character list help keep everyone straight. With so many folks and animals roving about, not everyone can be fully developed, and, in any case, the rambunctious plot takes precedence over the characters. Talents are nurtured and, in some instances, neutered. Songs are sung, pictures painted, crushes crushed, and mysteries solved. Props to Tolan for keeping the plates spinning and switching points of view with such skill. A fun time was had by all.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist