Books by Cynthia Voigt
Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things
(Released September 2013)
Buy this book at Amazon.com. Formats: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook CD, Audible
Max Starling's theatrical father likes to say that at twelve a boy is independent. He also likes to boast (about his acting skills, his wife's acting skills, a fortune only his family knows is metaphorical), but more than anything he likes to have adventures. Max Starling's equally theatrical mother is not a boaster but she enjoys a good adventure as much as her husband. When these two disappear, what can sort-of-theatrical Max and his not-at-all theatrical grandmother do? They have to wait to find out something, anything, and to worry, and, in Max's case, to figure out how to earn a living at the same time as he maintains his independence. This is the first of three books, all featuring the mysterious Mister Max.
The Kingdom books: Jackaroo; On Fortune's Wheel; The Wings of a Falcon; Elske
These are adventure stories that take place in a distant past at a time when reading is a privilege restricted to the wealthy and powerful, where justice is hard to come by, where danger – from without or within, from above or below or any side, from natural or human causes – threatens. The heroines and heroes of these stories have to fight to win what is important to them, and sometimes they have to give it up.
The Tillerman books: Homecoming; Dicey's Song; A Solitary Blue; The Runner; Come a Stranger; Sons from Afar; Seventeen Against the Dealer
» Select a book cover above for more about the book's characters and author's inspiration.
With both parents gone, the four Tillerman children - Sammy, Maybeth, James and Dicey, who at 13 is the oldest and the one responsible - have to find a place where they can live together and, once they have done that, they have to learn how to be there, how to live their own lives and grow up into their own selves. The Tillermans - all of them, including Gram and Momma and Bullet - are not people who have things easy, or make things easy on themselves. These books tell the various stories of this family, and of their friends, too.
HOMECOMING (author's comments)
"This story began – or was caused by – four children who had been left in the station wagon while the driver/adult – a parent? A babysitter-grandmother-aunt-neighbor? – went into the supermarket to shop. I myself had parked just down the row on the weekly grocery shopping trip, which happened every Friday on my way home from school. I had my list ready. I walked by the car. I noticed that the children were waiting there.
"For some reason, and I have no idea what that reason might have been, on that afternoon that car and those children caught my attention. As the electric door into the market swung open in front of me – this, I remember vividly – I thought: "What would happen if nobody ever came back for those children?"
"By the time I got to the tomatoes, I had another question: "What would keep somebody from coming back for those children? Why would it happen that they were abandoned? How could it happen that they would be so alone?"
"It may well have been beside the rows of chicken parts that I said to myself, "That is a REALLY GOOD IDEA" and took out the little notebook I always carry to write it down.
"And that was the beginning of my published writing career."
DICEY’S SONG (author's comments)
"I realized, when I finished writing Homecoming, that the story itself wasn’t over. The story couldn’t be over, I felt, until the question of Momma was settled, one way or another. When that happened, the Tillermans could move ahead in their own lives.
"But that first book was so long, even after I reduced it by 200 manuscript pages, I didn’t think the publisher would want the book to be even longer. (I was right about that.) So I wrote the end of the story (which I sometimes think of as Homecoming, Part III) as another book, Dicey’s Song. I wasn’t sure my editor would want to publish it, but she did, which was lucky for me."
A SOLITARY BLUE (author's comments)
"In Dicey's Song, I introduced Jeff, a guitar playing boy who thought my cranky heroine was pretty near perfect, and in her friendship with him she learned a lot about herself. But even after that book ended, and was out of my desk drawer, out being printed, out in bookstores, I kept on thinking about this Jeff Greene.
"For one thing, I quite liked him. I found him an interesting person.
"For another, I wondered how he had become the person he was, where he had come from, who his parents were, why he was living in one of the farthest, quietest corners of the world, and I wondered especially why Dicey mattered so much to him. So I wrote his story."
THE RUNNER (author's comments)
"War – any war, but in a person my age the VietNam war – is fought by young men. It is mostly young men who put themselves at risk, who are put in harm's way. So it seems to me that a war that does not have the best of reasons for existing (and there aren't very many of those, unless you think greed for land or for wealth or for power is a good reason) is throwing away the lives of the young men it sends to fight.
"I could not swallow the VietNam war. I didn't march or make speeches; I was a teacher, I was fully occupied, I wasn't sure who was telling me the truth about anything, those are my explanations. I didn't protest but I couldn't get it down my throat. I gagged on it. I still do.
"That's the reason behind Bullet's story. Of course I think Bullet's story is behind all of the other Tillerman books, and is a part of all of them, and should not be forgotten."
COME A STRANGER (author's comments)
"Mina Smiths is a formidable young woman, and also a young African American woman (although in those days, the proper term was black). I first met her in Dicey's Song and she made an appearance in A Solitary Blue, so it should surprise nobody that I wanted to write a book, to tell her story, how she became the girl she was and how fine a young woman that girl became.
"In this book I also got to bring Tamer Shipps back onto the stage in an important role, and I was very glad to get to spend more time in his company."
SONGS FROM AFAR (author's comments)
"This book belongs to Sammy and James, the brothers. They are very different from one another, but both of them are boys who are living among a bunch of women, and strong-minded women at that. All boys like to have a father (well, so do girls, but this book is about the boys), and if that father hasn't been around, for whatever reason, why shouldn't a boy go looking?
"Of course, there are some good reasons why not, but Sammy Tillerman doesn't always listen to good reasons, not when there's something he wants to do. James will always listen, and if it was up to him, they would forget about Francis Verriker, but it's not up to him. What is up to him is to be a brother.
"With a father like Francis Verriker, if you go looking for him, what you'll probably find is: trouble. When trouble comes, it's good to have a brother at your side."
SEVENTEEN AGAINST THE DEALER (author's comments)
"If you notice, this book is dedicated to all the students I got to teach, over many many years. I think that's a good dedication for a story about someone who is learning, a story about keeping on trying to get what you want, or need, a story about making mistakes and then deciding what you want to do about it,when you make a mistake.
"It should come as no surprise that one of the stories I remember from when I was young is the one about Scotland's Robert the Bruce and the spider. Bruce, who was fighting to win the throne, had just lost a battle and was hiding out in a ruined stone cottage in the wild highlands of Scotland. This was the sixth battle he'd lost and he was discouraged. He believed that he was the lawful king, but he'd failed in six tries to win the throne and he wondered if he shouldn't just give up.
"It was then that he noticed a spider. The spider wanted to swing across a corner, to anchor a web it had begun on the adjacent wall. It tried to reach the second wall, and failed. It tried again, and failed again. It tried a third time, and failed, a fourth, a fifth. At the sixth, and it failed again. But on the seventh try, it reached the wall, anchored the sticky strand and set about the work of weaving its web.
"Robert the Bruce took heart from this example. He succeeded in winning his next battle, the seventh, and went on to be crowned King of Scotland.
"Dicey Tillerman would have approved of him."
The Bad Girls books: Bad Girls; Bad, Badder, Baddest; It’s Not Easy Being Bad; Bad Girls in Love; Bad Girls, Bad Girls, Whatcha Gonna Do?
Mikey and Margalo meet in 5th grade, and from then on, through 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grades, they stay friends, doing the kinds of things friends do, fighting with or for each other, quarreling, hanging out, heading off in different directions and sharing food, experiences, troubles. Every year brings its own difficulties and its own opportunities – mostly, but not always, opportunities for social disaster. It is not easy for the two friends to run the world the way they want to, the way it should be run.
The Rosie books: Stories about Rosie; The Rosie Stories
These are the closest thing to autobiographical writing I have ever done, and they are the ... adventures? misadventures? ... of Rosie, the family dog, who never really became a sensible mature creature. Almost everything that happens in these stories, really happened; almost everything that is said, was really said. And Rosie was just as much fun as it looks like she is.
The Davis Farm books: Angus and Sadie; Young Fredle
The stories take place among the animals living on the Old Davis Farm, under the care of Mister and Missus. Angus and Sadie are border collie puppies adopted from a shelter, brother and sister, but very different from one another. Angus is quick and strong and bold while Sadie starts out with a broken leg, so she is slower, and also timid, and maybe even foolish. Fredle asks too many questions and, as if that doesn't get him in enough trouble, there is always his sweet tooth to do the job.
Brann discovers that he has traveled back in time, and met his father when he is only Brann's age.
Izzy is a normal high school girl, normally pretty (with especially good legs), normally popular, normally smart, just a nice girl, until an accident changes her – and her future – in a way that can never be undone.
David and Jonathan
After World War II, a Holocaust survivor comes to live with the American Jewish family that has been searching for him. But nothing about David is what the family, especially the son, Jonathan, expected, or wished for.
When She Hollers
What if your life is a deadly trap? Can you escape? If so, how, and also, is there anybody there to help you? Who do you have to be, to be a person who can escape? Tish's life is a trap.
The Callender Papers
This is a Gothic novel, with secrets from the past that must be brought out into the open, if the young heroine wants to escape with her life.
Tree by Leaf
If you were given – somehow – the power to cure the ills of the world, or at least some of the ones you know about, the ones that distress you, could you really make things better? Or could you only make them different?
The Vandemark Mummy
When the mummified remains of a girl are bequeathed to the college, Phineas and his sister find themselves in the middle of a dangerous mystery.
In the myth, Orpheus sang such wonderful, beautiful songs that the King and Queen of the Dead agreed to let him lead his beloved wife back up to the land of the living, as long as he did not look back to be sure she was following him, all the long journey. But he did look back, and he lost her again and forever. How could that happen? And if it were to happen in the recent past, what would the story be?
Tell Me if the Lovers are Losers
Three very different girls are assigned to be room-mates at college, and over their freshman year they learn to live together, and to be friends to one another, and to cause changes in one another.
A novel for adults, or maybe just romantics, as much like an old movie (I hope) as anything else, an old movie starring Cary Grant, for preference, about love among the rich, and those who aspire to be rich, and those who aspire to love.
Angus and Sadie, the Sequoyah Book Award (given by readers in Oklahoma), 2008
The Katahdin Award, for lifetime achievement, 2003
The Anne V. Zarrow Award, for lifetime achievement, 2003
The Margaret Edwards Award, for a body of work, 1995
Jackaroo, Rattenfanger-Literatur Preis (ratcatcher prize, awarded by the town of Hamlin - of course - in Germany), 1990
Izzy, Willy-Nilly, the Young Reader Award (California), 1990
The Runner, Deutscher Jungenliteraturpreis (German young people's literature prize), 1988
Zilverengriffel (Silver Pen, a Dutch prize), 1988
Come a Stranger, the Judy Lopez Medal (given by readers in California), 1987
A Solitary Blue, a Newbery Honor Book, 1984
The Callender Papers, The Edgar (given by the Mystery Writers of America), 1984
Dicey's Song the Newbery Medal, 1983