by Robert Cormier. Novel. 128 pages. Grades 5-8.
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Currently out of print (as of 2013) but still widely available used and through libraries.
In a manner similar to Cynthia Rylant's in Waiting to Waltz and Lee Bennett Hopkins' Been to Yesterdays, Cormier uses spare, blank verse to recreate the characters, mainly family, in one summer in the life of Eugene, a lonely twelve year old whose father works in the comb factory. We get to know his extended family as he comes to understand and appreciate each one. His mother is the image of grace and love while Eugene's father remains kindly, but remote. Then, in this era in which airplanes are a rarity, the boy spots one in the back of one of the tenements. The airplane disappears before anyone else can see it. Eugene is subjected to the jeers and scorn of his playmates until his father's loud proclamation affirms his sighting. The connection between father and son becomes almost tangible in that one, shining moment.
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Grades 7 - 9
In the Middle of the Night by Robert Cormier. (1997, Laurel Leaf. ISBN 9780440226864.) Novel. 192 pages.
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Denny's father is being harassed by late night phone calls and letters which he seems to accept with an odd kind of passivity. When he was sixteen, he was an usher in a theater where twenty-two children were killed and, although he was absolved of all blame for the disaster, some think he was at fault. Now Denny is sixteen and is himself being harassed and seduced by a mysterious voice on the telephone. Read More.