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When it was first published, Step by Wicked Step took some reviewers' breath away. But it was hard to argue an author shouldn't write about a state of affairs that affects so many of our children. And, at heart, I think the adults who read the book simply shared the same shock I felt when, after walking my children to school under a giant billboard that declared, "Since You Passed This Poster Yesterday, Another 400 Children Were Affected by Divorce", I began researching the subject of what is often called 'reconstituted' families. I knew from the lives around me that parental separation was only the beginning of the complications for children. Often the really tough time comes when one parent or the other sets up home with someone new, and the children aren't ready. We have six stories in the book. Only five could be fitted into the radio adaption - and even that was a squeeze. Both book and radio adaption have the structure of boxes within boxes. The children's school visit to Harwick Hall provides both the outer frame and the explanation for why all five children should just 'happen' to be from broken families. Richard Clayton Harwick's longhidden journal provides an inner tale that triggers off, one by one, each of the stories of the listening children. I quite deliberately made the toughest emotional tale that of the Victorian child, Richard Harwick. Set in the past, with all the protagonists now lying safely in their graves, any child disturbed by the sheer antagonism between the prototypically overbearing and unfeeling stepfather and the young grieving Richard can comfort themselves that this sort of thing is part of 'history'. Those of us who know better - including a host of young readers whose depth of feeling and unhappy circumstances may mirror Richard's more than we care to think - can take the story more at its emotional face value. I've been a shade more protective in the other stories, sometimes by showing things well on the way to a happy ending (Claudia and Pixie's stories), or by showing how the sheer determination of a child can give strength and purpose (Colin's story). Ralph's story is a robust one from start to finish. I've tried to be honest about the lack of choices most children are offered, and the lack of real opportunity to speak frankly and openly about their feelings and situations to the adults around them. To this end, I've shifted through scores of perfectly normal 'case studies' of families after divorce, and picked what I worked out was a fair cross-section of scenarios and emotional states. If adults reading the book or listening to the adaption are startled by this, I think the only thing that I can say is, 'Look around you, and listen.' Because none of these stories is particularly unusual. (Colin's seems saddest, of course; but, from the numbers of runaways on our streets, I think we can assume that even Richard Harwick's story is commoner, even now, than we'd care to imagine.)
so his parents develop a lunchbox system: the Dumbo lunchbox means Dad’s house after school. Colin’s mother leaves the only father Colin has known. of course.") keeps up the interest. often lived in strained and stretched families. But. she is unfriendly towards Stella. some just plain wrong and so they tell each other their stories. Claudia feels disloyal to her mum whenever she has a good time with her father and his new girlfriend. It turns out eventually that they all have step parents. Finally. stepsisters. what really seems to touch a nerve about Step by Wicked Step is the depth of the children's feelings. Stella. from the letters I get. All too many tales for young children assume far too narrow an emotional range. he has a lot of stepbrothers. After listening to Richard’s story. the children uncover the story of Richard Clayton Harwick which is very disturbing. like adults. Thus. yes. He has three stepmothers to deal with. one of the hardest books I've ever chosen to write. But I only have to read the letters of children responding to it. the 'autobiography' element which can be mined to advantage. a man she lived with for many years. and is obsessively determined to find him. Colin’s seems the saddest. half brother and half sisters to accept in his life. some bad. All of them are different in their ways. In addition. Many children do enjoy 'fun'. Ralph’s story. (Each child has a very distinct story-telling outlook and style. some kind. End. Richard Clayton Harwick’s long hidden journal provides an inner tale that triggers off. Five children are stranded together for the night in a tower of creepy. she compliments Stella and makes everyone notice the lady. each of the stories of the listening children. emotionally. the Mickey Mouse one directs him to his . In giving five of them so intimate and honest a voice. The sheer 'domestic' element of the tales ("Our family's not like that. to be glad I kept at it. in front of her Dad’s friends who are rude to Stella. and in her attempt to create a new life for herself does not see that Colin has been torn from a man he loves. But all of them.The book's been a great success in schools." "My family is. In that stormy night. Synopsis This novel is a tale that is both funny and moving. There is. lead complicated and demanding emotional lives. It was. It is a tale of a boy who of many years ago learned what it was like to have a truly wicked stepfather. Colin’s story is moving.) The mix of sexes in the stories works well with classes of all sorts. each of the five tells his or her own. one by one. He had someone he thought of as his father and now he misses him so badly that it hurts. but hasn’t seen him for five years. Step by Wicked Step empowers all who share the story. though merry. is as complicated as a maze. Their stories are powerful and intensely moving tales of children struggling with change and shifting family conditions Claudia’s story shows things well on the way to a happy ending. Ralph cannot keep track of which parent’s house he should go to after school each day. dark old Harwick Hall. Colin loves his stepfather.
Dumpa is the problem. Plot The plot of a novel comprises of the series of events that make up the story. five children are thrown together in a creepy tower. Eventually. She learns to adapt to the situation. Falling Action – resolutions to conflicts solved Resolution – final outcome Introduction Exposition One stormy night. She feels that everyone is pretending to be in a happy family when thay are actually not. She has to deal with two really irritating stepsisters and father who pretends he doesn’t notice how difficult things are for her. dark old Harwick Hall.mother’s. Callie never seems to see eye to eye with Roy. Rising Action They explore the tower . Pixie has to deal with two really irritating sisters. but through the act of telling. She hates to go over her dad’s house twice in a month. Callie find that their half sister. Roy keep on arguing. we can see that he is anxiously waiting for his little half sister or half brother to be born. Climax – turning point Rising Action – problems and conflicts are revealed Exposition – characters and setting are revealed. It shows the events and thoughts which make up the novel’s basic structure. each one learns more about his or her life. Both Mum and Roy are committed with each other just because of Dumpa. Callie moves out to her Dad’s place and that solves the problem Each of their stories is different.Towards the end. their three year old son. The arguments are mainly due to Callie. Pixie discovers that her stepmother and stepsisters aren’t any happier about the situation than she is. and through the responses of the other children.Soon. One of her step sisters teaches her mathematics and in return she tells ghost stories. Robbo and his sister. Both their Mum and stepfather. It shows the arrangement of ideas and / or incidents that make up a story.
Resolution They decide to read the journal as they never get the chance to peep into other people’s life. Charlotte reveals all the difficulties they had had to undergo. She married Mr. Falling Action Richard found the note on the captain’s table. Climax Richard left home as he was not happy with the situation. Coldstone who was a cruel man. Resolution He has to make a decision whether he should leave again. Charlotte. (Richard Harwick’s Story) Exposition Richard’s father had fever and eventually he died.Climax The discover Richard Clayton Harwick’s room which is in a tower off the tower. He realized that his mother was searching for him. Falling Action The find the long hidden journal that belongs to Richard Clayton Harwick. He returns home and finds a letter written by his sister. Rising Action Richard’s mother remarried. He realized that his family was looking for him. In the letter. (Claudia’s story) Exposition .
Falling Action Everyone starts noticing Stella and make a conversation with her. Claudia excuses herself politely to be in her room during the dinner. She finds a job at a canteen Falling Action Colin misses his dad very much. He even pretends to talk to him. . Claudia is sent to Stella’s house all of a sudden and on that day Dad and Stella are having a party. Climax Colin’s mum leaves the house and moves to another place. (Colin’s Story) Exposition Colin lives with his mum and a man he assumes to be his father. Climax Wearing the green pyjamas given by Stella. His dad walks him to and fro from school and takes him to the park. Resolution He waits for the day when he will be able to find his dad. She informs Stella that she likes the pyjamas. she parades and makes a grand appearance at the party. Colin loves his dad very much.Claudia’s Mum and Dad quarrel a lot Rising Action Dad leaves the house to stay with Granny and later moves to Stella’s. He calls him ‘Dad” Rising Action Colin and his dad spend a lot of time together. Resolution Claudia is happy for Stella.
Stepmother number three is pregnant Falling Action He plans to help Flora to take care of his half sister or half brother. he sorts out the baby’s clothes. Resolution With the help of Mum. Rising Action He manages to tolerate all of them Climax Flora.(Ralph’s Story) Exposition Ralph has a big family. He has three stepmothers to deal with. (Pixie’s Story) Exposition Pixie goes over her father’s place twice in a month Rising Action Pixie hates her stepsisters’ habits Climax Hetty moves in Pixie’s room Falling Action Pixie and Lucy tells each other their feelings .
one for their mother’s home and one for their father’s home. It uncovers many mysterious questions. The message is not about solving the problems. They are placed into certain groups. Conclusion The children feel proud to relate their stories. or blood related siblings. Pixie and Robbo find themselves together. . They are all wondering why they are put together. but throughout the night they discover a secret that the old mansion has kept hidden for years. Plot summary A group of children are spending the night in the creepy Old Harwick Hall. Frequent quarrels are seen in the house. Each child comes from a divorced family. is left hanging rather ominously. Several of the stories are quite poignant. Some children have to deal with either stepbrothers. but about simply dealing with them. Climax Roy is very adamant and refuses to speak or do things for the step children as before Falling Action Callie decides to move to Dad’s place. Ralph. Resolution Mum helps to set up Dad’s home so that it would be comfortable for Callie. stepsisters. None of the group members are really best friends. and they suddenly find themselves coming closer together and discovering why they were put in a group with each other. and to realize (along with readers) that they are not alone. Colin. They each in turn tell each other about how their parents broke up. their stepfather.Resolution Pixie learns to adapt to the situation (Robbo’s Story) Exposition Robbo’s parents have splited up long ago Rising Action His sister Callie hates Roy. in fact. as part of a school trip. and Claudia. when they discover that they each had two different addresses on their permission slips. and none reach a final resolution by the end–one. one is funny. But all of the children have had a chance to express what they’re feeling. Everyone’s story is different. At least one of their parents has married again.
It is the main message that is more global in scope. Colin. All the other parts are told in the first person’s view. or evil step-fathers. • • • • a. c. Pixie and Robbo. The introduction of the story is written in the third person’s point of view. In this novel. but it does have the taste of reality. Each one has a difficult time at home. but find out they are linked in some way. The children are Claudia. It is the idea or point of a story formulated as a generalization. Anne Fine. the author recognizes and validates the anger many children feel when the adults who should be caring for them cause their lives to spin out of control. Point of View Point of view is the perspective from which a story is told. b. It’s not all happy endings here. The author creates a narrator to tell the story. . Children lack choices and real opportunity to speak frankly and openly about their feelings and situations to the adults around them d. It is through the narrator’s perspective that readers learn what is happening in a story. It is told through the eyes of the author. with divorced parents. Sheer determination of a child can give strength and purpose.Characters The group of school-children are the main characters in this novel. All pain eventually heals and we have the power to change things for the better. Theme Theme refers to the central idea in the story. and then expect them to just adjust and be happy. They are all different. There are many themes in the novel. Ralph. Adults should look around them and listen Moral Values • • • Do not look down on others Do not give up easily when we are faced with problems We must try to accept things the way they are and make the best out of it.
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