Stephanie S. Tolan, . . HarperCollins, $15.99 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-06-623602-5

When Jake Semple is kicked out of yet another school, the Applewhites, an eccentric family of artists, offer to let him live with them and attend their unstructured Creative Academy. Twelve-year-old E.D., the only non-artistic (and organized) person in her family, feels like "the invisible Applewhite" and is wary of Jake. Through Jake and E.D's alternating perspectives, Tolan (The Face in the Mirror) introduces the outrageous titular clan. E.D.'s pompous father directs a local production of The Sound of Music, while her mother breaks from her popular mysteries to write the Great American Novel; her uncle carves a coffee table that her poet aunt defends to Jake, "Well, you couldn't put a cup of coffee on it, of course, but then who would want to? It's wonderfully soul-filling, don't you think?" Some of the plotting feels unfinished: E.D. and Jake don't formally make peace and the Applewhites never come to terms with their individual narcissism. Jake's transformation too seems unconvincing. But humor abounds in the ever-building chaos: a writer coming to interview E.D.'s mother stays to do a slew of projects on the famous family, including inviting a television crew to document their lives. In the end, it's the antics of the cast of characters that keep this show on the road. Ages 10-up. (Aug.)