cover image The Exiles

The Exiles

Hilary McKay. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $17.99 (217pp) ISBN 978-0-689-50555-3

The four Conroy girls are more than a little disgruntled to learn that instead of their receiving a share of their parents' newly acquired inheritance, the entire 5000 will be spent fixing the house. To add insult to injury, while the renovation is taking place, Ruth, Naomi, Rachel and Phoebe are ``exiled'' to the country to stay with their no-nonsense grandmother. In Cumbria, the sisters decide to spend their days buried behind books, but ``Big Grandma'' has other plans for them: she believes in exercise, and puts forth an endless supply of chores to fill their every waking moment. Like the writings of Beverly Cleary and Lois Lowry, this warmhearted first novel provides an ample supply of chuckles. Readers will be tickled by the children's attempts to evade their canny grandparent and will be touched by the affection that blossoms between generations despite initial clashes of wills. In spite of themselves, the Conroy girls begin to view ``Big Grandma'' in a more compassionate light while discovering something new about their own potential. Ages 9-12. (Oct.)