Brock Cole Celine (A Sunburst Book)

ISBN 13: 9780374410827

Celine (A Sunburst Book)

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9780374410827: Celine (A Sunburst Book)
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"Show a little maturity," he said, which I've doped out to mean: Pass all your courses, avoid detection in all crimes and misdemeanors, don't get pregnant.

Celine's father has left her with these instructions. She's not too worried about the last two, but she'll fail English unless she rewrites her Catcher in the Rye essay. And she keeps being interrupted, especially by Jake, the neighbor's boy, who's been dumped on her for the weekend.

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
A Booklist Best Book of the '80s
A Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book of the Year

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About the Author:

Brock Cole is the author and/or illustrator of many books, including picture books such as Buttons, a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Book, and novels such as The Goats, an ALA Notable Book. He lives in Buffalo, New York.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Celine
ONE /That day I walk home from school carrying Test Patterns, the great painting of my junior year, which has hung for a week outside the principal's office and might have stayed there until the end of the term, but someone had written "sucks" after my name in the lower right-hand corner. I'm upset, but I won't paint it out the way Miss Denver wants me to. I don't know why. I have this idea that some restorer in the future might strip away the patch and see it. What difference would that make? I'm not sure. Perhaps I don't want this to be one of my secrets.I have to walk because the driver won't let me take Test Patterns on the bus. There is a strong wind from offthe lake, and at every intersection it tries to tear the painting out of my hands. Sometimes it almost lifts me into the air. The stretchers break, first one, and then another, right in the middle. The brown paper wrapping begins to shred into feathery little strips."Hey, white! You trying to fly?" a girl yells at me outside the Projects, and I say, "Yes! Yes, I am," because I see that she is smiling. Maybe I am, at that, because I'm running and flapping the halves of Test Patterns like great wings.It's coming apart, but I don't care. When I reach the building where Catherine and I are living, it is a total mess. Paint cracked, canvas pleated, the stretchers busted and sharp as broken bones. I am happy.I'm about to fly the painting right into the dumpster in the alley; but no, I think, I must examine it calmly, like a car crash, and so I bundle it into a big wad and carry it up three flights of stairs to the loft that my father has sublet for the year.There is a little boy sitting on the top step, and he squeezes over to let me and Test Patterns by."Hi," I say, but he doesn't answer. Not supposed to talk to strangers. He gets up and walks to the door opposite my own to show me that he isn't simply casing the joint, and as I fumble with my keys he keeps his hand on the doorknob as if he's going to open it any second now.When I pop out again to gather up the pieces of Test Patterns which are trying to get away back down the stairs, he's sitting down again, just where I first saw him."Caught ya," I say, and he blushes, his big stuck-outears most of all. "Are you looking for somebody?" I ask, because he isn't playing. He doesn't look as if he even knows how to play."No. I live there." He twists around and points at the big door across the hall. It is gray metal and has four different locks. As I think about it, I realize that I have seen him before--a short person usually standing behind somebody in a skirt.While I walk around duck-fashion, picking up scraps of brown paper and splinters, he makes himself useful by pointing out all the little bits that I'm missing."Thanks. Thanks a lot," I say."You're welcome," he says, so seriously that I am sorry all at once that I was being sarcastic. I smile to show him I didn't mean it."Can I use your telephone?" he says.I say of course, and leave the door to the loft open so he can wander in by himself. The phone is on the wall next to the doorway and he can run for it in case I try to grab him while he talks.I hear him say, "I got locked out," but don't pay much attention after that, because I am busy spreading out Test Patterns and thinking about the cracks and holes and wondering if they don't in fact make it better than it was before. I even begin to look kindly on "Celine Morienval sucks," and am about to get out a Magic Marker of my own and add a few more comments about Celine and what she does and doesn't do, when the boy says, "Can my mom talk to you?"When I take the receiver, I hear a woman laughing.The laugh isn't for my benefit, however, because when I say hello she stops laughing and says very seriously, "I apologize for all the trouble Jacob is giving you.""It's no trouble," I say. "He just wanted to use the telephone.""Well, thank you, anyway. He was supposed to go home with a friend after school. I don't know what could have happened ..." She speculates for a while about what might have happened. Imagines emergencies, consults her datebook, considers quarrels. I begin to tune out, just saying "Right" every now and then. She has a nice voice. I understand why she has to explain everything, but I'm having trouble listening because I'm thinking about my painting. The boy, Jacob, is thinking about it, too, walking around it and giving it an occasional nudge with his toe. To see if I really killed it, I suppose."What?" I say. Something on the audio track has caught my attention."I said I'm afraid I don't know your name.""Celine. Celine Morienval.""I'm Mrs. Barker. Jacob's mother. I understand that you're a friend of Mel Hollingsford."I don't know where she got that idea."No. I'm just living here. My stepmother and me. We're subletting the apartment from Mr. Hollingsford.""Oh. I see," she says. She wants to know a lot more then. How old I am, where my father is, what my stepmother does, and the name of my school. This I discover is all very reasonable on her part, because she is aboutto ask if Jacob can stay with me until she gets home from work.Excellent."Jake," I say, holding the phone so she can hear. "Do you want to stay with me, or should your mother call Mrs. Puccio downstairs and see if you can go there? What do you want? To stay here? He wants to stay here," I report.His mother promises to be home by five-thirty, and I think I remember to say goodbye, but I might not have, because I know all at once what I am going to write about Celine on Test Patterns.I get busy right away. I have this big fat marker that makes in a single stroke a red line with gold borders. It is rather wonderful, but deadly poisonous, so I don't use it very often. Now, however, seems the time."But Can Celine Fly?" I write in big letters, right across the middle."Who's that?" asks Jake, who is watching me with great interest."That's me. I am Celine Morienval." I underline my name once and then begin to draw, very carefully, big drops dripping from the line. They might be tears."Are you a artist? My dad's a artist.""Yes, I am an artist." I take out my special silver marker, but I'm distracted by this child and I don't know what to write next. What does Celine do? Whatever will become of her?"Can I write something?" he asks."Yes. Yes, you can." I thrust the marker into his hand and gallop to the refrigerator. When in doubt, see what is in the refrigerator. There is not much. I find a long cucumber wrapped in plastic. An extraordinary object. From Chile, I think.When I get back to Test Patterns, Jake is hopping from foot to foot, waving the marker around."What should I write?" he asks, and I am disappointed in him."I can't tell you. You must make up your own mind." But then I forgive him and offer a hint. "It has to be about Celine Morienval."He nods thoughtfully and scrunches down and starts printing very carefully in the lower left-hand corner of the painting. He has to check every now and then on the spelling of my name, even making me move at one point so that he can see. I'm very touched, but I forget about him, because I see all at once that Test Patterns is not a test pattern at all. It is a flight plan. A convergence of flee and fly. Everything is marked out clearly, because it is for use at night. Here is Celine Morienval, and here is the way she was meant to fly. There are dangers--electrical storms, imminent collisions, warning lights. It is all very clear. It can be made better, of course. There is so much to do."There," Jake says."What?""There." In very neat second-grade printing he has written: CELINE MORIENVAL HAS DIRTY FEET.He's watching me carefully with his giggly little eyes in case I try to belt him. I don't belt him, but I'm crushed. Seen through. When I stand up, I can see that he's right. Celine Morienval has dirty feet. I kicked my sneakers off as soon as I came in, and the loft floor is black with graphite and charcoal. Neither Catherine nor I are big on vacuuming."Feet of clay!" I cry. "Feet of clay!" I march with as much dignity as possible over Test Patterns or Flight Plan or whatever it is. I can feel the texture of the paint with my bare feet. It is extraordinary. It is like the texture of ripples fossilized in slate."Can I do that?""Of course."Jake sits down and takes off his shoes and socks. He folds his socks up and puts them in his shoes, and then trots around the loft on his little pink feet to get them dirty. I am beginning to like this Jacob person."Feet of clay!" he yells and jumps on the painting. We march around for a while. He shows me the polka hop. You may think it is strange for an artist to behave this way. It is not. We all hate what we create.I'm suddenly so bored I want to die."Let's watch TV," I say. Jake stops dancing around and looks at me with wild surmise."Do you have a TV?""Of course. Don't you?""No," he says. "My mom doesn't believe in TV.""She must be a remarkable woman.""A what?""A remarkable woman. A woman of almost superhuman powers of disbelief.""Yeah," he says. "Where is it?"It is behind a screen at one end of the loft. My father wanted to "store it away" when we first moved in. Actually unplug it, but I couldn't allow that. I love TV. I watch it as much as I can. It is almost a duty, I think. You see, one day there will come a moment when everyone in the whole world will be watching television at exactly the same time. Everyone. The...

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780374312343: Celine

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0374312346 ISBN 13:  9780374312343
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1989
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9780374410834: Celine (Aerial Fiction)

Farrar..., 1993
Softcover

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