Colonial madness

Jo Whittemore, 1977-

Book - 2015

Tori and her mother jump at the opportunity to inherit great-aunt Muriel's colonial manor by living without modern conveniences for two weeks, but Tori finds herself distracted by Caleb, a cute boy on staff.

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New York : Aladdin 2015.
First Aladdin hardcover edition
Physical Description
229 pages ; 22 cm
Main Author
Jo Whittemore, 1977- (author)
Review by Booklist Review

Hyper-responsible Tori and her artistic, flighty mom have a great relationship, but money is tight. A possible solution lands on their doorstep in the form of a contest. Tori's cantankerous great-aunt owns a colonial manor and has created a contest to decide which family member will inherit it. To win, family teams must live life as in colonial times while earning points through daily challenges. Can Tori abandon all modern conveniences, avoid the distraction of the caretakers' cute son, and overcome her cousins' cheating ways to win the contest? Sure, the story line is a bit contrived, but it is also flat-out fun. Characters are well-rounded with believable emotions, and the plot moves quickly. Elements of colonial life add humor to the story, such as building a chair and worrying about body odor. Through it all, Tori learns to trust her mother, and naturally everything works out in the end. This light, fun read is a playful way to explore history.--Harold, Suzanne Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Thirteen-year-old Tori and her widowed mother have always been a team, but Tori feels like the adult in the relationship (an early scene has her mother hiding in a cupboard to scare Tori). Her mother's dress shop is struggling, so Tori leaps at a surprise chance to inherit her late Great-Aunt Muriel's estate. To do so, they must compete against the rest of the family in a "test of wit and will," living as though in colonial times, without any modern conveniences, and winning challenges like cooking gruel and making arrows for target practice. A cute boy on the staff, conniving cousins, witch trials, and various surprises spice up Tori's travails, and her dry humor is often downright hilarious. ("Maybe Mom and I didn't need candles," thinks Tori during a close encounter with lard. "Maybe we could just develop night vision, like owls, or scream at objects to find them, like bats.") Making the most of a fun premise, Whittemore (D Is for Drama) adeptly fuses comic moments with a testy but loving mother-daughter relationship and intriguing details about 17th-century life. Ages 9-13. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-Not everyone is lucky enough to be best friends with their mother, but then not everyone has Tori's mother for a mom. They share a special bond in fact, heightened by her father's death when Tori was a toddler. Making ends meet as a seamstress is not easy for the single mom, however, and the two have fallen on some challenging times. So when her not quite beloved great-aunt dies leaving her estate to whomever is clever enough to spend two weeks there without modern conveniences, it comes as a welcomed challenge. Tori and her mom join numerous other family members in an attempt to outdo one another at playing Colonial America. Elements of adventure, competition, and first romance will appeal to middle grade readers in this unique genre mash-up. The strongly bonded mother/daughter relationship, while by no means perfect, is refreshing and despite being repeatedly put to the test, strengthened by book's end, making this novel as much about personal growth as it is an entertaining escapade. Some elements of the story are weak and unrealistic, but the premise and plot are fun, the characters are identifiable, and the historical bits are well woven into the plot. Adventure-seeking readers wanting to dip their feet in historical fiction certainly won't be disappointed.-Rebecca Gueorguiev, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Horn Book Review

Although they're best friends, thirteen-year-old Tori sometimes feels she's more responsible than her fun-loving, financially irresponsible mother. When Great-aunt Muriel's will sets up an inheritance contest, Tori sees the answer to their troubles. The "test of wit and will" involves surviving two weeks as though in colonial times. This lighthearted, amusing novel provides some easily digested history lessons. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

Tori and her mom must live in the past in order to win a desperately needed inheritance.Tori's divorced mom has a designer dress shop, but it turns out that she isn't a very good businesswoman: The family is broke. If Mom's going to keep her store, she'll have to find some money. Enter recently deceased Great-Aunt Muriel, who has left a fortune to whichever of her relatives can survive for a week living in her Colonial mansion. It sounds good until they learn that everyone has to live as though they were in Colonial times, lighting fires with flint and making their own candles. Plus, they have to survive daily elimination challenges, doing Colonial tasks such as making porridge from scratchincluding grinding the cornand archery contests. Tori's certain that Mom won't be able to cope, but it turns out that Mom has some experience living off the land. The difficulty is that at least one member of the competition appears to be sabotaging Tori and her mom's effortsbut which one? Add a dash of forbidden romance to the mix, and Tori finds herself in all sorts of trouble. Whittemore brings her customary insight and humor to every page of this funny and sometimes-suspenseful romp. The history goes down easy, with lots of laughs. (Fiction. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.