July 09

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Cover Reveal of The House That Wasn’t There by Elana K. Arnold

All my life, from the time I was two years old, my Nana and Papa lived on a street called Rollingwood Drive.  It was a skinny, winding sort of street, with narrow sidewalks and lots of trees. Theirs was Number 33—halfway down the block, on the left-hand side.

I drove down that street as a child strapped in a car seat; as a kid in the rear-facing third row of an old orange Volvo wagon; as a teen riding shotgun next to my dad, with my feet up on the dashboard. Eventually, I drove down Rollingwood Drive as a young woman, all by myself. And then, finally, as a mother, with my own kids strapped into car seats behind me.

It was the most stable home of my life. I’d walked up the street hundreds of times, skateboarded it, biked it. But never, ever, not in all those years, did I notice that there was no Number 13. Until one day, just a few years ago, when, at last, I did.

There was a Number 11. Right next door was Number 15. But no 13. It just… wasn’t there.

Of course, I understood why; the number 13 has long been considered bad luck, and so when this neighborhood had been built in the 1950s, whoever made numbering decisions decided just to skip over it.

More interesting than why there was no 13 Rollingwood Drive were two other questions.

First: How was it possible that I’d traveled this street so many times, for so many years, and never, ever noticed that 13 Rollingwood Drive was missing?

And second: What if there were a 13 Rollingwood Drive—tucked on the invisible line that divided the property belonging to Numbers 11 and 15? What if it did exist, if only a person knew how to find it?

This sequence of events and questions perfectly encapsulates the way I think story ideas manifest. There’s some real thing, noticed and experienced—in this case, the absence of 13 Rollingwood Drive—and then there’s a “what if” question. Combined, these two elements can become a story.

So many other questions emerged! Who would live in Numbers 11 and 15? How would they discover Number 13, between them? And what—or who—would they find, inside?

The House That Wasn’t There is an amalgamation of so many things I love. There are gentle, kind kids, who don’t always understand themselves or one another. There is a supportive network of grown-ups who don’t have all the answers, who don’t always do everything just right. There are animals—in this case, two very special orange kittens. There is mystery and suspense, but also a real sense that the story is taking care of its readers. The House That Wasn’t There is a gently magical exploration of the spaces between people and the mysterious interconnections that bind them. It’s about home, and family, and love, and wonder.

I hope you’ll share this book with your young readers, and I hope it will inspire kids and grown-ups alike to look up, look around, and discover the mysteries that are all around us, just waiting to be found.

 

 

From Elana K. Arnold, National Book Award finalist and author of A Boy Called Bat, comes a wondrous coming-of-age novel about two kids discovering that there’s more that connects us than we’ll ever know.

Alder has always lived in his cozy little house in Southern California. And for as long as he can remember, the old, reliable, comforting walnut tree has stood between his house and the one next door. That is, until a new family—with a particularly annoying girl his age—moves into the neighboring house and, without warning, cuts it down.

Oak doesn’t understand why her family had to move to Southern California. She has to attend a new school, find new friends, and live in a new house that isn’t even ready—her mother had to cut down a tree on their property line in order to make room for a second floor. And now a strange boy next door won’t stop staring at her, like she did something wrong moving here in the first place.

As Oak and Alder start school together, they can’t imagine ever becoming friends. But the two of them soon discover a series of connections between them—mysterious, possibly even magical puzzles they can’t put together. At least not without each other’s help.

Award-winning author Elana K. Arnold returns with an unforgettable story of the strange, wondrous threads that run between all of us, whether we know they’re there or not.

The House That Wasn’t There will be published March 31, 2121 by Walden Pond Press.