Orphaned fifteen-year-old Judith Sparrow brings two secrets to her uncle's house in South Carolina: one, that her grief-stricken mother died in a madhouse, the other that she has disobeyed the only condition to living in her uncle's home -- nothing green is allowed in the house.
Judith can't bear to part with the photograph of her mother in its lovely green silk frame. Surely this one small defiance will not jeopardize the happiness she finds in South Carolina -- with a family at last, and new friends, especially Zeke Carey, the miller's son.
But Uncle Geoffrey's house holds a secret of its own. And Judith's small picture frame, hidden away at the bottom of her trunk, unleashes a powerful force that seems determined to bring that secret into the open. Or is Judith simply following her mother down the path toward madness?
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"Then at the end of the street, the house--the large brown house with the two eyes--made me suddenly clutch at the driver's arm as if to say, Turn back! Turn back!" At the first sight of her uncle's house--her future home--an inexplicable cloud of foreboding engulfs orphaned teen Judith Sparrow. Unfortunately, her fears are confirmed when she hears a mysterious scratching at the back of her closet and senses a ghostly presence hovering over her at night. Even more chilling, Judith learns of the death of a girl named Jade Green from the town gossip--a girl who lived in her uncle's house before Judith and died a horrible death on the attic stairs. As it turns out, Jade dearly loved the color that was her name. Suddenly, Judith knows the reason she was forbidden by her uncle to bring anything green into the house. She fears that by smuggling in a small green picture frame, she has roused the sleeping ghost of Jade Green and assured the doom of all who sleep under her uncle's roof!
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, best known for her humorous Alice series and the award-winning Shiloh, has dished up a fine gothic tale with all the trimmings: a brave, orphaned heroine; a dark and dreary manor; a hunky savior; a dastardly villain; and the star of the cast--a ghostly severed hand that holds the secret to Jade Green's untimely demise. This novel is a shivery delight that is ideal for both reading under the covers and sharing aloud with a group of enthralled listeners. Heartily recommended. (Ages 12 to 15) --Jennifer HubertFrom the Inside Flap:
At first glance the large brown house at the end of Stone Street seems so forbidding that Judith Sparrow wants to turn back. But turn back to where?
Recently orphaned, she has no alternative other than to be taken in by her stern uncle Geoffrey, who agreed to the arrangement with one peculiar provision: Judith could bring with her whatever belongings she liked except for anything green. The color green is strictly forbidden in his house.
Upon arrival at the house, Judith is determined to make the best of it and indeed is cheered by the warmth and charm of Mrs. Hastings, her uncle's housekeeper, if less so by her older cousin Charles, who seems to alternate between friendliness and a certain suspicious animosity. Even her uncle seems willing to open up to her at times.
But then strange, ghostly things begin to happen, and Judith finds her happiness in her new home, including a budding romance with Zeke, the miller's son, compromised by terrifying experiences she can share with no one, not to mention the ghastly stories she hears about the household's past.
And Judith must wonder if her one small transgression of the rule -- her having concealed in her trunk a small green picture frame given to her by her mother -- has somehow caused it all by bringing that past to life again.
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