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Book Detail

Surviving the Applewhites

Surviving the Applewhites Author Stephanie Tolan
Publisher HarperCollins
ISBN 0064410447
Publication Year 2004
Honors Newbery Honor
Reading Level 5.0
Main Character Age 12
Main Character is Human
Summary (Publisher"s Summary)
Jake Semple is notorious. Rumor has it he burned down his old school and got kicked out of every school in his home state. Only one place will take him now, and that?s a home school run by the Applewhites, a chaotic and hilarious family of artists. The only one who doesn?t fit the Applewhite mold is E.D. ? a smart, sensible girl who immediately clashes with the unruly Jake. Jake thinks surviving this one will be a breeze? but is he really as tough or as bad as he seems?

Subject Matter Summaries

Summary Details For Positive Elements:

POSITIVE ELEMENTS Jake, through the help of the Applewhite family, overcomes his troubled past and discovers talents and abilities he never knew he had. He transforms from a problem child with no vision in life to a responsible young man with goals and ambition. He no longer thinks only of himself, but has developed compassion and concern for others. The Applewhite family is artistic and eccentric, meaning they are also somewhat temperamental. However, they rally around Randolph (the father) in his hour of need and adopt his problem as their own, giving every ounce of skill, talent, time, cooperation and energy they have to help remedy the situation. They do everything with great passion and are not afraid of hard work, and they are very accepting of others who may be different from them. POSITIVE PERSONAL ACTIONS p. 87 “The overwhelming impulse to boot the dog out into the hall vanished. Jake reached down and rubbed the dog behind his ears. There. That proved it. The Jake he knew, the Jake he had always been, was disappearing.” p. 215 “As for Jake, the only thing he knew for certain was that somehow or another he was going to get himself on the stage again. He had an answer now to Zedediah’s question about what gave him joy. He wasn’t about to waste a mellifluous voice and a commanding stage presence.” p. 183 “Jake had thought that he knew something about the Applewhites and passion. But nothing had prepared him for what happened when all of them, all at the same time, became totally obsessed with the same thing. What had seemed like hard work before now looked like a sort of happy, restful vacation…Work went on day and night.” p. 139 “When the family took over all the technical jobs on The Sound of Music, everybody was too busy working on the show to have time to look after a four-year-old. Jake only had to go to rehearsal. He had more time than anybody. And since Destiny had already adopted him anyway, he had somehow become a kind of full-time babysitter. Nobody had actually asked him to look after Destiny, and he hadn’t exactly volunteered. It had just happened.”

Summary Details For Mature Subject Matter:

CONFLICT In this book, Randolph Applewhite prepares to direct a community theatre production of The Sound of Music. The only acceptable performer he can find to cast as Maria is an African-American girl, and there is some discussion about that. There is also a brief mention of the Nazi regime during discussions about the production. p. 113-115 “Well, it will certainly get the show some attention,’ Sybil said. ‘I don’t know that anyone has ever cast an African American as Maria before.” p. 114 “She isn’t the only color-blind choice, though. It’s going to be a rainbow cast. The children playing Louisa and Friedrich are black, and Liesl and Kurt are Vietnamese.” p. 115 “Jeremy nodded. ‘Escaping the Nazis. What were the Nazis most infamous for? The Holocaust – the killing of six million Jews. One of the most terrible examples of racial hatred in modern times. What better way to hold a mirror up to our own prejudices than to cast this particular show across racial lines.” p. 212 There is a reference to the “rainbow cast” of the theatre production in a newspaper review. “After the initial surprise of seeing an African American playing Maria, the audience lost all awareness of skin color – an important lesson for us all.” WITCHCRAFT p. 35 “…Lucille explained to Jake that nature spirits had told her to make the garden round instead of rectangular and that they came into her dreams sometimes to give her advice about planting and cultivating.” p. 122 “She’d consulted with the nature spirits, and they had had no advice except to relinquish her need for control.” p. 202 “Her father was the only one who wasn’t worried about the weather. He claimed that the theater gods were on their side…” CRISIS p. 2-3 “Jake Semple was the first person E.D. had ever met who had a social worker. She thought that was probably only one step away from having a probation officer, which is what Jake’s parents would have when they got out of jail.” p. 43 “He thought about the guys at home who’d gone to Juvie. The druggies and the ones who bragged about the guns they could bring to school if they wanted to. “

Summary Details For Profanity/Language:

DEGRADING COMMENTS Creep p. 1 “She had no intention of telling this creep the story of her name.” Birdbrain p. 36 “Two of a kind, E.D. thought. Birdbrains, both of them.” Stupid p. 41, 55, 134 “Stupid thing to do, catching butterflies.” Ignoramuses p. 134 “…the stupid, incompetent, clueless ignoramuses.” MILD OBSCENITIES H*ll p. 133 “…But yell ‘Fire’ and they come like bats out of hell, intent on saving their own skins.” SCATOLOGICAL TERMS P*ssed Off p. 95 “So why was she p*ssed off?” F-WORD The f-word is not used specifically in this book, however a character is said to have used the “f-word.” p. 46 “It wasn’t until Destiny yelped that he realized he’d used the F word.”

Summary Details For Sexual Content:

CHANGING BODY p. 8 “She wasn’t much to look at. Not much shape yet. Still as much like a boy as a girl….” ROMANCE There are a few brief instances when Jake Semple admires the beauty of a female character. p. 9 “He thought she might be the most gorgeous girl he’d ever seen.” p. 154 “Jake had just drifted into a reverie about Jeannie Ng, who had taken Cordelia’s place as the most beautiful girl he had ever seen…”

Summary Details For Violence/Illegal Activity:

FANTASY VIOLENCE p. 181 He imagined a house – Mrs. Montrose’s house – going up in flames. The Traybridge Little Theatre blowing up and then settling in a cloud of dust like those buildings they showed being demolished on television…..’Okay, okay,’ he said to the dog. ‘I probably wouldn’t do those things even if I could.” NON-LIFE-THREATENING INJURIES p. 148 “Gretl fell off the stage. Her mother took her to the emergency room.’ …..’There won’t be a next rehearsal for her,’ said the nurse…’That was a broken arm.” FRIGHTENING SCENES p. 146-147 This scene tells of a four-year old child using a lighter to set a fire in the theater. The fire was quickly extinguished, but temporarily caused panic and another child fell off the stage in all the commotion and broke her arm. GORE p. 22 “Even his silver-spiked black leather collar and his Vampire Zombies from the Beyond T-shirt with the skull and fangs that dripped bright red blood didn’t faze her.” FELONY p. 2 "...but the word around Traybridge was that one thing he did was burn down his old school." The reader later finds out that this was an accident.

Summary Details For Tobacco/Alcohol/Drugs:

TOBACCO p. 4 “Jake pulled a cigarette out of a pack in his T-shirt pocket…..He took a long drag and blew the smoke directly into her face…” p. 6 “He took a long drag on his cigarette and blew the smoke at her again.” p. 7 “This was his last pack of cigarettes.” p. 9 “Jake nearly choked on the smoke he had just inhaled.” p. 10 “On his way he snatched the cigarette out of Jake’s hand..." p. 85 “If he dared to smoke where he could be seen, somebody was sure to snatch away his cigarette….So he’d taken one of his last cigarettes out into the meadow three days ago to find a place to smoke it in peace.” p. 86 “…and Jake had no sooner lit his cigarette and taken a nice, long, relaxing drag...” p. 181 “Jake had found a crumpled cigarette in the bottom of his duffel bag and gone out into the woods to smoke it….It hadn’t helped. He realized with considerable shock that he didn’t really like the taste smoking left in his mouth, that he’d never liked it. After two drags he crushed out the cigarette.” ILLEGAL DRUGS p. 3 “…His parents were in jail for growing marijuana in their basement…”

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Summary Details For Disrespectful/Anti-Social Elements:

ARGUING / DISRESPECT p. 35 “Jake rolled his eyes several times during her explanation, and even groaned once or twice.” BAD ATTITUDES, ANGER, MOODINESS p. 48 “Cordelia stamped her foot. ‘Mine! Where have you been? You never listen to anybody…” p. 52 “Randolph, red-faced and fairly dancing with rage, was shaking his fist at a tall, thin, pale, pimply faced young man with a ponytail, shouting about incompetent drivers…” p. 67 “E.D. Said nothing at all as they worked, but she crashed plates and glasses into each other so ferociously, Jake was surprised that nothing broke.” p. 68 “E.D. slammed the door to her room and threw herself on the bed.” p. 70 “She threw her extra pillow across the room. She hated being an Applewhite.” p. 99 “E.D. shut down the computer and stormed out of the schoolroom, her stomach churning…and went out through the kitchen, slamming the screen door behind her...” p. 129 “She had stuck her head into her mother’s office and her mother had thrown a dictionary at her. Well, maybe not actually at her. It had missed by a foot.” p. 131 “She hated Jake Semple.” p. 177-179 “As the news of the cancellation spread around Wit’s End, it was as if someone had lit a string of firecrackers. One after another came the explosions….’You never once think of anyone except yourself!’ she heard her mother say……Zedediah….raged about the customers he had put on hold in order to build sets instead of furniture…Jeremy Bernstein shrieked when he was told….Jake just clenched his fists. His face was almost as red as his hair, and he stormed off across the field…”