Spring 2021 Kids Indie Next List
“Charming, magical, and sweetly philosophical, The House That Wasn’t There is Elana K. Arnold at the top of her game. When Oak Carter’s family moves in next door to Alder Madigan and his mom, the first thing they do is cut down Alder’s beloved walnut tree. So, becoming best friends with Oak is the last thing Alder plans on doing. But the universe has other plans and so do a pair of adopted kittens, a mystical opossum, and possibly even Faith the school bus driver. The House That Wasn’t There is a story of connections and mystery, love and loss, family and friendship. I fell in love with this tender, kind, and wonderful book from page one.”
— Joy Preble, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX
"In this luminous story full of mystery and magic, Elana K. Arnold weaves a shimmering tapestry about the lovely and surprising ways we’re connected to each other. Heart-healing, hopeful, and wonderfully inventive, this beautiful novel by a master storyteller is not to be missed." —Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal-winning author of The One and Only Ivan
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.
About the Author
Elana K. Arnold Elana K. Arnold is the award-winning author of many books for children and teens, including The House That Wasn’t There, the Printz Honor winner Damsel, the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Of, and the Global Read Aloud selection A Boy Called Bat. She is a member of the faculty at Hamline University’s MFA in writing for children and young adults program, and lives in Huntington Beach, CA, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. You can find her online at www.elanakarnold.com.
"In this luminous story full of mystery and magic, Elana K. Arnold weaves a shimmering tapestry about the lovely and surprising ways we’re connected to each other. Heart-healing, hopeful, and wonderfully inventive, this beautiful novel by a master storyteller is not to be missed."
— Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal-winning author of The One and Only Ivan
"Told through alternating perspectives that offer clearly rendered details, this compassionate novel gives a unique twist to familiar situations—feeling lonely, adjusting to new environments, forging new bonds—while inviting readers to open their imaginations to all sorts of wonderful possibilities."
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"The author enriches her sparely told story with hints of magic, song lyrics, good choices that key sudden sea changes in several relationships, and the small background details that make settings and backstories seem real. A low-key marvel rich in surprises, small fuzzy creatures, and friendships old and new."
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Arnold depicts the kids’ emotions, relationships, and thought processes with unusual clarity and nuance. Middle grade readers, particularly those with a taste for magical realism, will find plenty to enjoy in this quirky, original novel."
"Arnold combines the weird with the warm in this domestic fantasy, bringing realism to the kids’ struggles with both family and identity even as they deal with some very unusual circumstances."
— Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books