Bookjacket spine from The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone

The Romeo
and Juliet Code

by Phoebe Stone
Publisher: Scholastic/Levine,
(304 pages)
Publication Date: January 1, 2011
ISBN 978-0-545-21511-4


More praise for
The Romeo and Juliet Code

A New Novel by Phoebe Stone

The Wall Street Journal

Discovering the Past's Perils and Pleasures

January 8-9, 2011 (Children's Book Reviews by Meghan Cox Gudon)

A generation later, with the U.S. on the brink of joining World War II, another 11-year-old girl finds herself on the coast of Maine in Phoebe Stone's delightful novel "The Romeo and Juliet Code" (Arthur A. Levine Books, 304 pages, $16.99). Raised in London by a glamorous British mother and a dashing American father, Felicity Bathburn Budwig takes pride in behaving with proper British ness. Still, it's a struggle for her to control her feelings when her parents drop her abruptly at her American grandmother's wind-whipped house and drive away.

The Maine house is a disconcerting place, filled with "big and strange and sad" relatives. There's Uncle Gideon, a kindly yet tormented figure who has nailed the piano shut and who seems continually surprised at the sight of Felicity's face. There's Aunt Miami, who changed her name from Florence (which lacked pizzazz) and always dresses as if for a party. And then there's Captain Derek, a mysterious invalid who plays jazz records behind a closed door upstairs.

Any child who has ever been left reluctantly with relatives, even for a short time, will recognize Felicity's sorrow and confusion as the weeks turn into months with no word from her parents in London—no word, that is, except for letters in her father's handwriting that her uncle will not let her see.

Meanwhile, war rages on the Continent. Felicity feels kinship with the European refugees she sees in the newspaper: "[T]hey didn't belong anywhere either. Not belonging is a terrible feeling. It feels awkward and it hurts, as if you were wearing someone else's shoes." Slowly, with witty self-possession, this thoughtful heroine decides that she must untangle the narrative strands around her. What she discovers, and how she discovers it, should keep children ages 8-13 engaged, amused and, eventually, stirred.


From Booklist (Review date: January 1, 2011)

Because of the bombing of London, 11-year-old Felicity is taken by her parents to live with relatives in Maine in 1941. She slowly adjusts to her new family, including Uncle Gideon, who teaches sixth grade at the local school; Aunt Miami, who lives and breathes Shakespeare; "The Gram," Felicity's grandmother; and Derek, a 12-year-old adopted orphan whose dreams of military service have been dashed by a bout with polio. Felicity's engaging personality and curiosity about letters arriving from Portugal written in code "stir up the soup" of life in the Bathburn household, but only time will tell if that's a good thing. In lyrical prose, Stone conjures up America on the brink of WWII through the eyes of a delightful British girl. The apprehensions of impending war are intermittently broken up by humor, mystery, romance, and literary allusions. Truly charming, this coming-of-age historical novel has an old-fashioned feel and will resonate with fans of Frances Hodgson Burnett and Jeanne Birdsall's Penderwicks books. --Melissa Moore


From School Library Journal (February 2011)

Gr 4-6 — Eleven-year-old Felicity Bathburn Budwig does not appreciate being deposited in Bottlebay, ME, by her parents, but she understands the necessity as it is 1941 and London is under constant bombardment by the Germans. She is welcomed into her father's family's Victorian house populated by The Gram, Aunt Miami, Uncle Gideon, and the reclusive "Captain Derek," who turns out to be a boy recovering from polio. Felicity and Derek team up to discover why Gideon receives letters from her father that she is not supposed to see and to puzzle out the code they contain. In doing so, the girl uncovers family secrets surrounding her parents' estrangement from the Bathburn clan. Felicity's internal observations propel this mystery forward with good effect. She rather resembles a combination of Noel Streatfeild's English waifs and Polly Horvath's Primrose from Everything on a Waffle (Farrar, 2001). Her insecure whisperings to her bear, Wink, show her private feelings in an endearing flashback to childhood, and readers will identify with the protagonist in all her schemes. The girl's thoughts articulate clues for readers to notice, making this a story truly told through the eyes of its narrator. Her perspective is not necessarily accurate, yet just like the codes she deciphers, it allows readers to uncover the truth. Pair this up with Noel Streatfeild's "Shoes" books (Random) or Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn Dixie (Candlewick, 2000) as a quietly touching story of finding one's place in the world.
—Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT

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Back to reviews from: Publishers Weekly, Horn Book, The Chicago Tribune and Kirkus

Find out more about Phoebe Stone's novels. Take a look at:

The Boy on Cinnamon Street

Deep Down Popular

All the Blue Moons at the Wallace Hotel

Sonata #1 for Riley Red

When the Wind Bears Go Dancing

What Night Do the Angels Wander?

Go Away Shelley Boo!

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The Romeo and Juliet Code
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