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Afternoon of the Elves [Paperback]

Janet Taylor Lisle
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Paperback, Nov. 11 2003 --  
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Book Description

Nov. 11 2003 Novel
Hillary doesn't believe all the mean things she hears about Sara-Kate. Sure, she wears weird clothes and she lives in a dumpy house, but if Sara-Kate's as bad as everyone says, how could she take such good care of the elf village in her backyard? She and Hillary spend hours fixing the tiny stick houses and the miniature Ferris wheel so the elves won't move away. But as Hillary is drawn further into Sara-Kate's world, she learns there are other mysteries besides the elves. Why doesn't anyone ever see Sara-Kate's mother? And why isn't anyone allowed in her house? This updated edition will bring new life to Janet Taylor Lisle's best-selling novel.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

This enchanting story about friendship reveals the beauty, wonder and mystery that lies within the imagination. With rare talent, Lisle ( Sirens and Spies , The Great Dimpole Oak ) conveys a girl's vision of magic and truth through a montage of surreal images. Sara-Kate, the poorest, least reputable girl in school, invites Hillary home to see what the village elves have built in her yard. Among the overgrown weeds and piles of rubbish, Hillary discovers an incredible landscape filled with miniature houses. During the next few weeks, the girls work together to create their own additions to the village. Hoping to catch a glimpse of the tiny inhabitants, Hillary becomes more aware of her surroundings and eventually gains insight about her new friend. Then Hillary's mother learns about Sara-Kate's decrepit house and the girl's ailing mother, who lives upstairs. Sara-Kate is sent away to relatives in Kansas, her mother is placed in an institution, and only the village remains. Ultimately, the book suggests that friendship is as eternal as magic--even after Sara-Kate has left, her presence is still felt. Ages 9-11.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6-- A fascinating portrayal of a manipulative yet touching friendship. Nine-year-old Hillary lives in comfortable suburbia with her parents. In the house behind lives tough, independent Sara-Kate. Her father's gone, her sick mother hides, she dresses like an urchin, and is despised and mocked at school. However, Hillary stumbles on Sara-Kate's secret; she tends a tiny village in her weed-filled back yard, a village where she says elves live. Hillary is fascinated, and in helping her neighbor maintain the village, gradually becomes closer to Sara-Kate despite her school friends' disdain and parental disapproval. She starts not only to believe in elves, but also to wonder if Sara-Kate is not one herself. The ambiguous clues as to whether Sara-Kate is really an elf or just a disturbed child are so well wrought that readers will be as uncertain as Hillary. The children's emotions and behavior are believable and authentic, depicted clearly without over-explaining, especially Hillary's inner conflict. Lisle captures the subtlety of childhood feelings and perceptions, while maintaining a language and style accessible to average readers. Hillary grows from a bland follower to someone who knows that it is she, ultimately, who must make up her mind, despite the opinions of those around her, and perhaps become a little like all that was good in Sara-Kate herself. --Annette Curtis Klause, Montgomery County Department of Public Libraries, MD
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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The afternoon Hillary first saw the elf village, she couldn't believe her eyes. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
By A Customer
I wasn't sure what to make of this book after I finished reading it. I think it makes big statements about social conditions and imagination vs. reality that, judging from the reviews posted here, younger readers do not quickly pick up on.
I am still filled with conflicting emotions about the end of this book. Clearly, it was necessary for the authorities to intervene and take Sara-Kate and her mother away. But the author seems to condemn this action, looking through the eyes of Hillary, who tries to persuade her mother that Sara-Kate would have been just fine had she been left alone in her broken-down home and property, stealing and lying to stay alive. There seems to be an elevation of a child's imagination (taken to extremes) over reality; that somehow Hillary's perspective was right and that of the adults was wrong.
I also seemed to pick up on a dark note at the very end with the line about Hillary seeming to have "disappeared." It's almost as if Sara-Kate's elf world sucked Hillary in so effectively that she was destined to "become" Sara-Kate herself--distant, cold, manipulative, and blinded by her fantasies. A disconnection from the real world seemed to have taken place.
Now, I have focused on the negative aspects in this book. It does indeed contain elements of freshness, spark, and a healthy dose of imaginative playfulness. But I found the story to be more haunting than refreshing, more disillusioning than enlightening. This book is very well-written, but strange. Just strange.
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This is a difficult book to read and accept. It beautifully delivers a message that I think most readers will dodge, particularly young readers, but perhaps most well-trained adults as well. It points out that our society's politically correct response to some social situations may be morally completely wrong.
Hillary is a happy kid from a good home, with plenty of happy friends. But she is fascinated by her next-door neighbor Sara-Kate in spite of her junk-filled yard, her ratty clothes, and her strange ways. Sara-Kate, you see, has elves in her back yard. And an inordinate amount of knowledge of the strong and independent ways of elves. Slowly, Sara-Kate's elvish charm draws Hillary closer, until finally Hillary enters into Sara-Kate's fantasy along with her. As this happens, Hillary also begins to absorb the ugly reality that the fantasy makes bearable: Sara-Kate's father has left, and sends odd bits of money sometimes. Sara-Kate's beloved mother is sick, mentally ill, and Sara-Kate cares for her like a child, hiding the reality from the world so that authorities won't take her mother away from her as before.
There are two levels to the story. On the surface, there is the story of an odd, graceless outcast slowly charming another child away from her old friends with the intensity of her fantasies. Below, however, is the story of an abandoned child and mother, and more, the story of an unusually loyal, strong and resourceful child forced by her mother's mental illness to take on incredible responsibility.
It is a terrible story. By that, I mean that it draws a picture of a horrible mental and physical ordeal. The beautiful fantasy that sustains this unusual kid has the power of its creator's determination. And the sadness of the story is offset by the amazing nobility and optimism of an unusual character.
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By A Customer
Sara-Kate Connolly and Hillary Lenox are two very different girls who are next door neighbors. Hillary is a very popular fourth grader, who had two best friends who were stuck up and they disliked Sara-Kate. Hillary realy thinks Sara-Kate is mean, and since Hillary dresses in designer clothes. She thinks Sara-Kate is a really awful dresser. Sara-Kate is supposed to be in fifth grade but she was held back. She tries to act like an adult and boss around people because she's older. Sara-Kate and Hillary are a lot different, but in spite of all that they were next door neighbors. They saw each other a lot. Sara-Kate told Hillary there was an elf village in her backyard. Hillary did not belive her so Sara-Kate let her come and see it. Hillary could not belive what she saw. Sara-Kate invited Hillary to come see the elf village. One day Hillary went to Sara-Kate's backyard like she did every day,but Sara-Kate was nowhere to be seen. Sara-Kate opened the door quickly and told Hillary to come in and have lunch. Hillary came in and had lunch but one thing she forgot was to tell her mom where she was going. Her mom came to Sara-Kate's house looking for her. She came in and asked Hillary and Sara-Kate where Sara-Kate's mom was,neither of them said any thing so Hillary's mom went upstairs. She came down and left to get help.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "MAGIC CAN BEGIN TO CHANGE THINGS" May 8 1998
By A Customer
Someone is building a village for elves in Sara-Kate's junky backyard--could it really be that she has Elves back there? Nextdoor Hillary just has to find out and is fascinated inspite of herself. She wants to be socially correct and her somewhat snobby girlfriends at school shun the trashy girl and her recluse mother. But Hillary is torn between her fancy friends who sneer at Sarta-Kate's pedigree and her own delight in the possibility of Elves as neighbors.
Is there some kind of Magic at work back there that draws her, begs for her help, binds her to secrecy and makes her do the work of the Elves? And if she sacrifices all--even lies and steals for them--will they ever really Trust her as they do Sara-Kate? Will Hillary learn to see with Noticing eyes? First she must become a believer.
Hillary learns a lot about Elves from Sara-Kate, but how does this mysterious girl know so much to begin with? "It isn't where you look for elves so much as how you look...go slowly, quietly and look deep." So which of them is the best friend of the elves after all? And how can Hillary best prove her friendship to Sara-Kate, who insists that people like herself can not just ask for help; they have to steal it? Can the elves help their protector, Sara-Kate, or will she have to steal for her ailing mother? Is it all right to steal for a good cause? A fascinating book for instrosepctive and imaginative readers, about the processes of clinging to childhood and combatting adult mentality.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not Great
A fiercely poor Sara-Kate claims that elves live in her garden. Hillary chooses to accept the fantasy and the friendship, but at a cost. Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2004 by Ashley Lambert-Maberly
5.0 out of 5 stars review
This is a wonderful book that will stay with you long after you read it. As a child I was enchanted by the descriptions of the elves tiny houses. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2003 by Jackie
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Good Book
Afternoon Of The Elves is a mysterious book about a girl named Sara Kate who is very poor and has an elf village in her backyard. Read more
Published on Jan. 2 2003 by piggy
5.0 out of 5 stars An enchanting story filled with magic and exciment
This book was a wonderful story that had me dreaming about it every night. Nine year-old Hillery Loxanne is invited over her next-door neighbor's house to play. Read more
Published on April 26 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars The king of my favorite books
I love this book because it was so good. I can't actually tell if it was a sad ending or a happy ending. Read more
Published on Jan. 2 2002 by Tzu-Ting Liao
4.0 out of 5 stars 12 year old reader from KY
11 year old, Sara-Kate, and 9 year old, Hillary, find there lives full of magic and suspense as they work on the mysterious elf village. Read more
Published on Dec 18 2001 by "indiansmms"
4.0 out of 5 stars 12 year old reader from KY
11 year old, Sara-Kate, and 9 year old, Hillary, find there lives full of magic and suspense as they work on the mysterious elf village. Read more
Published on Dec 18 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars All About "Afternoon Of the Elves" From an expert reader
Two very diferent girls Sara-Kate Conolly and hillary Lenox find out whats possible and whats not in this fantasy"Afternoon Of the Elves. Read more
Published on Dec 18 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 year old reader
11 year old, Sara-Kate, and 9 year old, Hillary, find there lives full of magic and suspense as they work on the mysterious elf village. Read more
Published on Dec 18 2001 by "indiansmms"
1.0 out of 5 stars Afternoon of the Elves-Don't Waste YOUR Afternoon!
I had to read the book Afternoon of the Elves for a school program. The summary on the back made me pretty sure I wouldn't like it, but I didn't exactly have a choice in reading... Read more
Published on Nov. 6 2001 by A 12-year old reader
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