Welcome to the next stop of the blog tour for The House that Wasn't There, by Elana K. Arnold!
I'm so excited to share my thoughts with you about this amazing new book!
Alder has always lived in his cozy little house in Southern California.
And for as long as he can remember, the old, reliable, comforting walnut tree has stood between his house and the one next door.
That is, until a new family—with a particularly annoying girl his age—moves into the neighboring house and, without warning, cuts the tree down.
Oak doesn’t understand why her family had to move to Southern California. She has to attend a new school, find new friends, and live in a new house that isn’t even ready—her mother had to cut down a tree on their property line in order to make room for a second floor. And now a strange boy next door won’t stop staring at her, like she did something wrong moving here in the first place.
As Oak and Alder start school together, they can’t imagine ever becoming friends. But the two of them soon discover a series of connections between them—mysterious, possibly even magical puzzles they can’t put together.
At least not without each other’s help.
Award-winning author Elana K. Arnold returns with an unforgettable story of the strange, wondrous threads that run between all of us, whether we know they’re there or not.
This last year of quarantining has been really hard on my ability to focus on books, but I devoured this one. It was filled with the absolute realities of life as a sixth grader, with all of the awkwardness and self-discovery that I remember being so painful that year.
The counterpoint, which my current and former weird self adored, was a story of teleporting kittens. Yes, you read that correctly. Teleporting kittens! I mean... what could be better?
A mysterious house that both exists and doesn't exist? We have that.
A taxidermied opossum named Mort purchased from the Ballyhoo Curiosity Shop? Umm..... yeah. We have that too. (And now I have a new spot on my bucket list, since that shop actually exists.)
In addition to all of the wonderfully quirky items mentioned above, this novel is packed with so much heart. Alder is sweet, sensitive, and loving. His knitting earns bonus points from this yarn lover, and I adore how his hobby becomes a sweet part of his personal journey in friend making. Oak's struggles to settle into her new home and learn to stand up for her needs with her mother resonate. So many kids at this age just want their parents to listen, right?
The mysterious and the ordinary intertwine in ways that just feel right. In the end, the truths that are uncovered about friendship, family, and growing up lead to a fun and satisfying ending.
I highly recommend this book for middle grade readers, and will be book talking it with my own middle grade students.
Want to hear about another great series by Elana K. Arnold? Check out my blog posts about A Boy Called Bat and Bat and the Waiting Game. This series features a sweet main character named Bat - who loves animals a lot! Great for younger readers. I didn't blog about it, but Damsel was also amazing (best for older readers). Apparently I had a photo of my cat with this book from when I read it!
About the Author:
Elana K. Arnold is the author of critically acclaimed and award-winning young adult novels and children’s books, including the Printz Honor winner Damsel, the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Of, and Global Read Aloud selection A Boy Called Bat and its sequels. Several of her books are Junior Library Guild selections and have appeared on many best book lists, including the Amelia Bloomer Project, a catalog of feminist titles for young readers. Elana teaches in Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program and lives in Southern California with her family and menagerie of pets.