"Good hands, Luke," Dad had said. "Special hands. Strong and sensitive. You can do anything you want with hands like these. So don't ever put them to bad use."
Luke has good hands. Everybody says so. Good for playing the piano -- just like his father did before he died. And good for climbing -- climbing trees, climbing toward the stars, in search of some peace away from family troubles.
Now Skin and his gang want Luke to do some climbing for them. They want him to climb into Mrs. Little's house to look for something to steal. They want him to prove he's a real part of the gang.
But nobody is ready for what Luke discovers when he does climb into the house. He encounters something so unexpected that it changes everything -- something that unlocks secrets and helps Luke find out exactly who he is and what it is that he's been searching for.
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Tim Bowler has written seven novels for teenagers and is one of the most prominent authors currently writing for this age group. His first novel, Midget, established him as a thrilling new voice in young adult literature. His third novel, River Boy, won the prestigious Carnegie Medal, and his books have also won numerous other prizes. His most recent novels are Storm Catchers and the highly acclaimed Firmament.
Mr. Bowler lives with his wife in Devon, England, and is a full-time writer.From School Library Journal:
Grade 6-10-Luke, 14, is in big trouble. "Skin," a teen with a well-earned reputation for violence, has threatened to seriously hurt him if Luke refuses to break into an old woman's house and steal a beautiful wooden box sure to contain valuables. Luke is trapped, and once inside the house, he's startled by the devastating weeping of a young girl. Worse, Skin isn't Luke's only problem. He's still grieving so hard over his father's death that he can't concentrate and is nearly flunking out of school. He skips classes; fights with his mother, who has a new boyfriend; and is rude and surly to everyone, even his beloved music teacher. Luke feels that the only thing he has left is his music, his gift for playing the piano, just like his father. Firmament is a fascinating coming-of-age story with deeply developed characters. The author's understanding of the way a musician separates notes in his head and the ability to translate them into a dialogue between his hands and his instrument is amazing. However, one disturbing scenario might hit readers hard, especially given recent news stories of abducted children. Once Luke discovers that the mentally retarded child had been found and hidden away by the old woman for two years, he reunites her with her parents but does not notify authorities. Overall, though, the author's lyrical writing will enthrall readers and draw them into a heartfelt story that resonates just like great music. Pair Firmament with Bruce Brooks's Midnight Hour Encores (HarperCollins, 1986) during booktalks. Both titles will be eagerly snatched up and loved.-Susan Riley, Mount Kisco Public Library, NY
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