Stranger at the Window

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9780613224529: Stranger at the Window

Lesley, who is recovering from an illness at her aunt's home while her mother is in Egypt, is convinced she's seen a frightened child peering out of the attic window of the house next door. When she confronts her neighbors and learns about their secret castaway, she becomes involved in their desperate attempt to keep him from the authorities. As Lesley and her neighbors struggle to provide a safe haven for a stranger in a strange land, they begin to understand their own strengths, as well as their own limitations.

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About the Author:

Vivien Alcock (1924 - 2003) is the well-known author of many compelling mysteries and supernatural fantasies for children. Childhood is, she once wrote, "an exciting and dangerous time, and it fascinates me." Her books reflect that excitement, danger, and fascination.


Eleven-year-old Lesley, recovering from hepatitis, is living in London with her aunt while her mother is working in Egypt. Next door live three teenagers who don't have the slightest interest in Lesley--until she insists she has seen a young boy living in their attic. She is right; Victoria Harwood and her two brothers have spirited a young illegal immigrant away from the police during an immigration protest at Heathrow Airport. Eventually, Lesley is taken into the Harwoods' confidence, and she becomes custodian of "Erri," who can't speak English well enough to tell his story but who can draw bombed-out buildings and frighten Lesley with the intensity of his nightmares. Alcock, perhaps to avoid getting bogged down in specifics, leaves lots of open questions: Where is Erri from? How did he get to England? What has happened to his family or the people who helped him escape his country? Adults will be more bothered by these holes, but kids may still feel cheated by never really learning Erri's story. Alcock is such a good writer, however, that other subplots fill the vacuum: Lesley's resourcefulness in taking care of Erri, Victoria's difficult relationship with her mother, and the problem of what will become of Erri. Fresh middle-grade fare. Booklist, ALA

When her mother takes a new job in Cairo, eleven-year-old Lesley, recovering from hepatitis, is left in the care of her widowed Aunt Amy in an old, established London neighborhood. Almost immediately, Lesley is drawn into a mystery when she sees a strange child peering down at her from the attic of the Harwood's house next door. When the three children of the house, all older than Lesley, adamantly maintain that she is hallucinating, she refuses to accept their explanations, ignores their hostility, and continues to observe their actions. The secret is shortly revealed-the Harwood children are hiding a frightened young illegal immigrant. After Lesley learns that their aggressively save-the-world mother , now unfortunately out of print, but Stranger at the Window is a resonate echo, not merely a resuscitation. Alcock's imagery is evocative but not intrusive as in Leslye's comparison of teenager Victoria Harwood to "a red Delicious apple...[with] a maggot in her heart." As adept at plotting as she is in characterization, the author knows how to build tension from chapter to chapter, leading from one peril to the next in the best cliffhanger tradition. Horn Book

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