by Patricia Reilly Giff


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Elizabeth is drawn into a dramatic story from the American Revolution when she discovers a portrait of her ancestor, a girl called Zee, who has a striking resemblance to Elizabeth. The girls' lives intertwine and Elizabeth's present-day story alternates with Zee's. As Elizabeth learns about Zee, and walks where Zee once walked and battles raged, the past becomes as vivid and real as the present.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440421757
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 08/09/2011
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile: HL610L (what's this?)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

PATRICIA REILLY GIFF is the author of many beloved books for children, including the Kids of the Polk Street School books, the Friends and Amigos books, and the Polka Dot Private Eye books. Several of her novels for older readers have been chosen as ALA-ALSC Notable Books and ALA-YALSA Best Books for Young Adults. They include The Gift of the Pirate Queen; All the Way Home; Water Street; Nory Ryan's Song, a Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Golden Kite Honor Book for Fiction; and the Newbery Honor Books Lily's Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods. Lily's Crossing was also chosen as a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book. Her most recent books are Number One Kid, Big Whopper, Flying Feet, Eleven, and Wild Girl.

Read an Excerpt


Twenty-first Century

School's over; the weekend's here. Elizabeth heads for home. She'll put her feet up on the bench in the kitchen, read her library book, and finish off the brownies she and Pop made last night.

What could be better?

She trudges around to the back door, passing the living room, then Pop's workroom. She can see him through the window. He's long and lanky, his hair a little gray around the temples. He's leaning over his table, working on one of his carvings. On a shelf above his head, wooden animals march along in a row, and a face mask glares out at her. Weird. She tilts her head, picturing someone wearing that mask; a girl maybe, trying to look fierce. Her name would be . . .

Pop spots her. "Elizabeth?"

She climbs the steps, pushes open the door, and drops her backpack inside. "Hey, Pop," she calls.

"What were you doing out there?" he asks, coming into the kitchen.

"Just . . ." Embarrassed, she doesn't know what to say. "Just nothing, I guess."

She sees now that he has a line between his eyebrows.

Trouble. She tries to think about what she's done, or what she hasn't done. She grins to herself. Maybe it's something he hasn't done. The breakfast dishes are still in the sink; a plate with sandwich crusts is on the table.

"How about a hot chocolate to warm you up?" he says, taking the milk out of the refrigerator.

Still that frown. What's coming? She reaches into the cabinet for a couple of crackers.

"Listen, Elizabeth," he says. "I have to go to Australia. I've been asked to show my carvings at a university in Melbourne."

Australia! A million miles away. She blows air through her mouth. It means staying with Mrs. Eldridge and her fat bulldog with his horrible breath. But she can do that. She's done it dozens of times before when he's been away teaching or selling his carvings.

Pop runs a hand through his graying hair. "I called your aunt Libby. She says you can stay with her." He reaches for the box of cocoa. "She's only two or three hours away."

Elizabeth stares at him, a saltine halfway to her mouth. Her mother's sister? Elizabeth has seen her maybe twice in her life. Libby, a scientist, who probably spends her days in a dusty laboratory, working with little dishes of who knows what. She sends odd Christmas and birthday cards, her writing so small you can hardly make it out, and she doesn't have kids. Of course she doesn't.

"Libby!" Elizabeth explodes. "I don't even know what she looks like. I'll stay with Mrs. Eldridge."

Pop turns away to stir the milk on the stove. "Mrs. Eldridge is moving away."

"Alexa, then—she's my best friend, after all."

He pours the milk into a glass. It's so hot the glass cracks. Elizabeth watches the milk sizzle out across the stove, and thinks about her mother, who died in a car accident so long ago she can't even remember her.

Pop stands in front of her. "I might be gone several weeks, Elizabeth. It can't be helped. I wish it could. I don't want to go without you. I don't want to leave you for so long."

He hesitates, a dishcloth in his hands. "But it's time for you to know your mother's family. I've been feeling that for a while. Libby spent a lot of the last few years doing research in Canada, otherwise I'd have asked her sooner."

Elizabeth doesn't answer. She goes inside to turn on the television, pressing up the volume until everything around her vibrates.

Pop comes to the door. "I'm sorry, Elizabeth. I'm so sorry. This will be important to us, really. It'll mean more money, commissions for more carvings."

She turns away from him. Libby. A different school. She'll miss chorus and gymnastics. He's not worried about her missing school. One time she missed a few weeks. "You'll catch up," he'd said, knowing she would.

It's so unfair, but she knows there's no hope of changing his mind. Not by banging her bedroom door shut all week, not by skipping breakfast, not by saying she's sick and can't go to school.

The next Friday Pop brings two duffel bags from the basement. She stuffs almost everything she owns into them while he straightens the house and locks everything up.

They drive through a spring snow. It coats the windows like feathers; the windshield wipers drum back and forth.

"If this works out, I'll go back to Australia next year," Pop says. "Maybe you can go with me someday when we have more money. This trip I'll be able to sell some of the old carvings, things I did years ago."

"I don't care," she whispers, and wonders if he hears her. He turns on some horrible music, and she leans forward to switch to something else, something equally horrible.

"I love you, Elizabeth," he says.

She hums along to the music all the way, as if she can't hear him.

At last they stop at a house that's set back in a snowy garden. Elizabeth hunches her shoulders against the cold, against Pop, as Libby opens the door. She's tall, thin as a bone, peering at them with sky blue eyes behind her glasses. She's smiling, a tight smile, but still—

Good for Libby, Elizabeth thinks. She's not going to let us know what a horrible imposition this is.

Imposition. A word her English teacher, Mrs. Thomas, would love. Elizabeth feels a zing of pain in her chest. On Monday she'll go to a new school where she doesn't know a soul.

They drag her duffel bags through Libby's perfect hall, into her neat living room, and Pop leans forward to kiss Elizabeth good-bye, aiming for her cheek. She pulls back and he grazes her hair.

He mumbles a few words, and then he's gone.

Blotches of red stain Libby's neck. She moves forward and reaches out to Elizabeth. A hug? But Elizabeth realizes it's her jacket Libby's after. Drops of snow are beginning to melt on the carpet.

Elizabeth has to feel sorry for Libby. She imagines Pop calling on the phone, talking Libby into taking Elizabeth, as if she's the third duffel bag.

There's another sharp zing in Elizabeth's chest. Maybe something's wrong with her heart. She catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Nothing's wrong with her heart, of course. Too bad. It would serve Pop right if she keeled over and stopped breathing.

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Storyteller 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I very much injoyed reading this book. All of Patricia Reilly Giff's books that I have read were AMAZING and very well thought out. This one I think is my favorite because it sort of tells a story from the past while still telling the story of how Elizabeth finds out about her grandmother (who is said to be much like her). The story seemed to get better and better as i kept reading but it was never boring. I deffinetely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read!
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
When Elizabeth's father tells her he will be traveling to Australia to sell his wood carvings, she thinks it means she'll have to stay with Mrs. Eldridge and endure her overweight bulldog and his bad breath. She's in for a surprise. Father says Elizabeth will be staying with her Aunt Libby, her mother's sister. Staying with Libby means living with someone she doesn't even know and going to a new school where she doesn't have any friends. All Father says is it is time Elizabeth learned about her mother's side of the family. Libby makes Elizabeth feel as welcome as possible. The house is awfully quiet and her aunt's cooking is horrible, but when Libby shows Elizabeth to the room she'll be using while she visits, everything feels a bit better. The room belonged to Elizabeth's mother when she was a girl. There's a handmade quilt on the bed and a cozy chair by the window perfect for snuggling up in with a good book. It doesn't take long for Elizabeth to discover the faded sketch of a young girl hanging in the hall. It is amazing how much the girl resembles her. Libby tells Elizabeth that the girl's name was Eliza "Zee," and she lived during the Revolutionary War. Elizabeth is filled with questions about this mysterious girl from the past, and what follows is a fascinating journey into her family history. Author Patricia Reilly Giff tells the stories of modern-day Elizabeth and 18th-century Zee through alternating chapters. Elizabeth learns not only about the mother she lost years ago, but also about her family's place in history. Readers also hear Zee's story as she fights for survival during a time of war that separated families and tore apart lives. Giff's gift for writing historical fiction is put to excellent use in STORYTELLER as she bridges from past to present to connect the story of two young girls.
RefPenny on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When her father goes to Australia to sell his carvings, Elizabeth is sent to stay with her dead mother¿s sister, Aunt Libby. Elizabeth isn¿t happy about leaving her home and her friends but is drawn to a picture in Aunt Libby¿s house of a girl who looks just like her. The picture is of Zee ¿ Elizabeth¿s ancestor from the time of the American Revolution. This book contains two stories - Zee¿s story is intermingled with Elizabeth¿s as she tries to find out more about her ancestor. Both girls come across as real characters and there are a number of similarities between them and their situations. This book is an engaging read suitable for girls aged 9 and up ¿ particularly those enjoy `real¿ stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read it it sounds like its a good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very awesome and can truelly touch your heart by all the characters in this book zee can really touch your heart because of all the dufficultness that she has to face when her father dies in the revolutionary war and her mother dies to a group of bad shadowy figures that she doesnt tell who they are any way i would totally recomend this book to the readers who love history and to the readers that love heart warming storys and very ultimately people that love hearing the best books ever that will also set you wondering will elizabeth still go back to harrys to see more places where zee could have stepped and probably been to and stayed there and will there be another book written to see what happened to zee ?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Especially loved it when you would switch from one girl to the other, leaving me in suspense. I love suspense.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A bit rushed but then again it is a proluge...curious to see what happens next
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Keep going! Its great! Also, plz read my story,boy of fire, girl of ice, at thefern (no typo ) res2. PPPLLLZZZ comment at fire and ice res12.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A small ray of light shone through my windows. Ughh. I thouhh, not wanting to get up. Eowyn! I heard my mother call. I tossed the covers off me. Yes!? I called down. Me and your father are heading out. Well be back tonight. She said. Ok! I called back. I heard the door shut after a few minutes. I slipped back under my covers and fell back asleep. When i woke up it was darker. I walked downstairs and saw my parents sitting in deep conversation. My dad saw me first. Hello Wynny! He says, using my nickname. My mom just hands me a plate. Serve yourself. She gestures to the kitchen. I grinned and pulled out the salad, fruit, and chicken. When i had gotten what i wanted, including a slice of pie, and had eaten it, a rejoined my parents. As i sat there was a loud banging then the sound of glass shattering. My parents looked at each other feafully then at me. Wynny, hide! My dad yelled. The next minutes were a blur. The man with the scar, my dad, my mom, blood. Then silence. Broken by the soft sh of a man. I was crying. Warm kind arms picked me up and carried me away. Away from my dead parents. Away from the blood. The blood. I panicked and fell from the mans arms. Thats when the world went black. But thats not the end, its only a memory, for you see, this is only the beginning.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the greatest books ever made. I read it for wirc and loved it.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book looks good. The sample just drew me in. Get it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Arent that great they r just little scribnles on paper this book looks boring i donwannat read it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I want to read this book so i need some shorter feedback please!!!!