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When an accident leaves teenage cousins Meline and Jocelyn parentless, they come to live with their unknown and eccentric Uncle Marten on his private island. They soon discover that the island has a history as tragic as their own: it was once an air force training camp, led by a mad commander whose crazed plan to train pilots to fly airplanes without instruments sent eleven pilots to their deaths. Jocelyn, Meline, and Uncle Marten are soon joined on this island of wrecked planes and wrecked men by an elderly Austrian housekeeper, a very mysterious butler, a cat, and a dog. But to Jocelyn and Meline, being in a strange new place around strange new people only underscores the fact that the world they once knew has ended.
Told in the alternating voices of four characters dealing with grief in different ways, Polly Horvath’s new novel is a rich and complicated story about loss and the possibility— and impossibility—of beginning again. The Corps of the Bare-Boned Plane is a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
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Polly Horvath is the author of many books for young people, including Everything on a Waffle, The Pepins and Their Problems, The Canning Season and The Trolls. Her numerous awards include the Newbery Honor, the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, the Vicky Metcalf Award for Children's Literature, the Mr. Christie Award, the International White Raven, and the Young Adult Canadian Book of the Year. Horvath grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She attended the Canadian College of Dance in Toronto and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York City. She has taught ballet, waitressed, done temporary typing, and tended babies, but while doing these things she has always also written. Now that her children are in school, she spends the whole day writing, unless she sneaks out to buy groceries, lured away from her desk by the thought of fresh Cheez Whiz. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and two daughters.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
From The Corps of the Bare-Boned Plane
Almost immediately I had a closer relationship to the island than I had to either my uncle or my cousin. The island with its wind and waves and pounding rain seemed alive. I wasn't so sure about Uncle Marten or Jocelyn. They were remote in different ways. Jocelyn remained cold and contained and Uncle Marten was never around except at dinner. We ate dinner every night at a long table that sat twenty. I sat at one end, Jocelyn in the middle, and my uncle at the other end. Uncle Marten made the same thing every night, hot dogs and mac and cheese. We ate it silently in the drafty dining room with the roar of the fire in the large hearth in the living room, the sound of the ubiquitous wind in the eaves and the rain hitting the windows. Jocelyn cut her hot dogs up with her knife and fork, even the bun, and ate them in tiny, neat pieces. She wiped her mouth on her paper napkin between every bite. My uncle always brought a book down to the table and would read and take notes and then wish us good evening and go to bed. I wasn't sure if he thought that he was being tactful, allowing us the luxury of silence in our grief, or if he regarded us as birds that had accidentally landed in the house and about which he was too distracted to do anything. If Uncle Marten was disturbed by his brothers' deaths he didn't seem to let it interfere with his work.
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