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Getting Near to Baby


  • 2000 Newbery Honor Award 

  • Honor of the Austrian Children's and Juvenile Books Award 

  • Chinese edition of Getting Near to Baby chosen as one of the best ten books of the year of 2000 by China Times 

  • An American Library Association Notable Book 

  • School Library Journal Best Books for 1999 

  • New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age 

  • Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award Master List 2000-2001 

  • Preliminary list for the Master List for the Mark Twain Book Award 

  • A Capitol Choice Book 

  • Sunshine State Young Reader's Award Master List, 2001-2002 (Florida state award) 

  • New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 

  • 2001 VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers 

  • The Best Children's Books of the Year, Children's Book Committee at Bank St. (with outstanding rating) 

  • Barnes & Noble Best Books of 1999


Foreign language editions:

  • (Carl Ueberreuter Verlag Ex. frnLang- German hardcover & paperback) 

  • Chinese (3&3 Int'l Education Instit. hardcover complex characters )...... 

  • Chinese hardcover (New Buds Publishing House; simplified characters) 

  • Dutch/Flemish hardcover (Uitgeverij Clavis) 

  • Japanese hardcover (Hakysuisha ) 

  • French trade paperback (Bayard Editions Jeunesse S.A.) 

  • Korean trade paperback (Design House ) 

  • Turkish paperback (Bayez Adam Ltd. ) 

  • Scholastic Book Club 

  • large print (Thorndike Press) 


audio - exclusive abridged & unabridged, non-dramatic (Listening Library) [ a Parents' Choice Fall 2001 Gold Award Winner]



"... Couloumbis manages a bittersweet work that, in the manner of many classic Southern novels, makes you break your heart laughing."
--The Boston Globe


"... carries a family through early stages of grief with grace, sensitivity and a healthy dose of laughter."
--Starred review, Kirkus Reviews 


"... first novel wears its heart on one sleeve and its humor on the other. Together they make a splendid fit."


"... the combined strength of this unforgettable cast of characters leaves a lasting and uplifting impression."
--Starred review, Publishers Weekly


"A touching examination of grief and healing ..."
--Starred review, School Library Journal


"The author's plainly worded but evocative descriptions give life to the characters and tender poignancy to even simple observations ... "
--The Horn Book.


"... a quiet lyricism to this story that will draw fans of Cynthia Rylant."
--Recommended by The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books.



















"A story of family and forgiveness and the finding of both."
--starred review, BCCB 


"Couloumbis invents realistically complex characters... and a world in which right ultimately defeats wrong."
--Starred review, Publishers Weekly. 


"... builds almost unbearable tension..."
--School Library Journal.


" perfectly cast characterization. . . tellingly communicates Casey’s growing fear and Paulie’s underlying fragility and leaves thoughtful readers plenty to chew over with this convincing portrait of young people learning how to make choices..."

--Kirkus Reviews.


"... powerful and engrossing."


"... goes right to the heart..."


"Affecting, convincing, and masterfully told,"





















National Parenting Publications Gold Award



A Junior Library Guild pick


A Booksense pick


"...laugh-out-loud hilarious. While this novel at first seems a departure for Couloumbis, there are many similarities to Getting Near to Baby (1999) and Say Yes (2002). Her strong females are memorable, largely due to her perfect pitch in conveying their unique voices. Hard to put down, and a fun read-aloud."
--Starred review School Library Journal


"What a pleasure to read something just for the sheer fun of the storytelling. Sallie's fresh and feisty voice, girls dressed as boys, an outlaw with a heart of gold, adventure and humor add up to great family entertainment."


"... as full of wild escapades as the dime novels of old ... equal doses of comedy and adventure, this novel ... is sure to rustle up a new herd of fans for Couloumbis."
--Publisher's Weekly


"... the humor arises from the contrast between the sobriety of Sallie's voice and the frenetic action. Readers will become deeply involved ... drawn in by the sisters' strong bond, their continuing bad luck, and hints of a potential romance."
--Horn Book


"Readers searching for a Wild West Adventure with pro-feminist flair will be swept along for the ride."
--Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books



Gun-slinging Maude March and her sister, Sallie, have tried to live quietly in the town of Independence, but after a short stay, they are on the lam again! When lawmen recognize Maude in a restaurant, she and Sallie flee, following their Uncle Arlen further west. Maude is no criminal, but the newspapers are warning good citizens everywhere that "Mad Maude" is loose. Meanwhile, Maude and Sallie are joined by the writer of some of Sallie's favorite dimers, who may be able to clear Maude's name. Library edition with trade jacket added.   

--Junior Library  Guild pick


​Twelve-year-old Sallie March and Maude have made a fresh start with their uncle Arlen and are trying to live on the up-and-up. Maude's even started wearing skirts again! But just when the girls are settling into their new life, Maude (aka "Mad Maude" if you believe the papers) is arrested. And before you can say "jailbreak" the orphaned sisters are back on the run!

On the unforgettable adventure that follows, Sallie discovers some surprising truths. Like, heroes aren't just folks in stories but can be the person you least expect, riding right next to you. And that it's love, not blood, that really makes someone family.

--Horn Book


“Here again are all of the qualities that made its predecessor such fun: old-fashioned storytelling, humor, rollicking adventure and heroines to root for. A natural for reading aloud.”



“Descriptive details about medical practices, terrain, railroads, food, towns, forts, etc., are woven seamlessly into the lively story and provide a real feel for the flavor of the Old West and life on the trail. A satisfying sequel.”

--School Library Journal


A Booksense pick


"Readers searching for a Wild West Adventure with protofeminist flair will be swept along for the ride."
--Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books




















Ten-year-old Jake’s holiday season gets off to an inauspicious start when his widowed mom slips on the ice in a mall parking lot before Christmas and has to be hospitalized. Shortly thereafter the paternal grandfather he hardly knows and little remembers comes to the rescue from out of town and into Jake’s life. Potentially making matters worse is his grandfather’s boon companion, the “nightmare dog” Max. Jake—and readers—need not fear, though. A warm, caring gem of an older next-door neighbor who has always been there for the family proves more nurturing than ever, and assorted family members and friends also leap into the fray to help with Jake’s care. Gradually the gruff exterior of ex-Marine Granddad melts away, revealing the loving softie he’s always been, and boy and grandfather—and dog—come to understand each other and bond. This is a sweet story, with the sort of kind, supportive people young readers should know in life as in literature. Narrator Jake’s a good kid, though at times his self-awareness seems beyond his years. Pleasant and satisfying. 



“A gripping story.”—Horn Book Magazine *Starred Review*


“The spare, first-person narrative is filled with immediate dialogue and small details that eloquently reveal Jake’s worry about his mother (and his guilt when he forgets to worry), as well as his wariness of strange, tough-love Grandpa and his crabby pet. …Never message-heavy, the drama about the meaning of family will touch readers. ”



“Jake tells his story in a straightforward and often funny way that will resonate with young readers well beyond the holiday season.”

--School Library Journal


“JAKE will make you want to reach out and draw the world a little closer.”—Rebecca Stead, Newbery Award–winning author of When You Reach Me




















“Couloumbis demonstrates her skill at writing with quiet understanding and unstudied polish for younger readers.”                                                    

--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books *Starred Review*


“Convincing characters and solid dialogue enhance the credible plot, which is more focused on feelings than action. This tender, realistic tale might go a long way toward soothing the doubts of many children who are dealing with similarly trying situations.”



“Lexie is a sweet, short story that will appeal particularly to young girls. 

Newbery Honor-winning author Audrey Couloumbis very deftly shows us the growth of her character in the passing of just a few days. Yes, 

growing up is dealing with things we don’t like, and Lexie will show you 

how to do it.”                                                                                                  



“Couloumbis compresses a lot of change, both endured and accepted, into a single week, but wisely doesn’t end with everyone living happily ever after. Instead, she suggests that the young characters are caught in an inevitable situation and might just make the best of it.”                          --Horn Book Magazine


“. . .writing with quiet understanding and unstudied polish for younger readers, Couloumbis’ ability to walk through complicated emotional dynamics in kid-accessible language. . .is impressive, making Lexie a perceptive narrator but not requiring her to be implausibly sophisticated.

--Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review

"The shore has always been one of ten-year-old Lexie’s favorite places in the world.  She would spend the summer there with her parents, playing on the beach, finding treasures in the sand, and reading picture books.  Now though, her parents are divorced.  So her mother isn’t going to be going to the shore at all.  Lexie is spending a week there with just her dad.  Or so she thinks!  On the way there, her father announces that his new girlfriend will be joining them, and her two sons too.  Lexie is pushed out of her usual bedroom into one that is as tiny as a closet.  Teenage Ben is also not enthusiastic about being stuck together.  Little Harris is messy and doesn’t even want to head outside at first.  As the two families try to live together, Lexie discovers that connections can be created over the smallest things and that there is still room for everyone even if the house is a lot more crowded.

This is a book that takes a moment in time, a week at the shore, and creates a world out of it.  Couloumbis writes with a voice that celebrates the small things, yet doesn’t wander.  The characters are real, each written with an honesty that is surprising.  The adults have faults, make mistakes.  The young people are struggling with this new situation, facing it with various emotions that all read as true.

Lexie is child who can see past her love for her father and see him through the others’ eyes.  At the same time though, she has to spend time with the others to understand them as deeply.  It all works well as the reader is also learning about these characters.  When truths are revealed is a crux of the story.  Throughout the book, honesty is explored.  Lexie struggles with trying to be kind and then finding herself in situations where it may have been better all along to tell the truth.  The situation with the adults mirrors this as well.

This is a radiant read that explores deep issues of divroce and truth while never losing the sunshine of the shore.  It would make an intriguing pairing with Junonia by Kevin Henkes which is for a similar age and also is set on the beach. Appropriate for ages 8-11."

-Waking Brain Cells by Tasha Saecker of Appleton Public Library






















“Akila Couloumbis’s wartime memories come alive. . .easily read narrative, lively with dialogue, ends with a symbolic triumph. Meanwhile, by clarifying priorities and loyalties, the hostilities precipitate reconciliation among the various brothers. A gripping story.”

--Horn Book starred review


“richly detailed novel. . .dangerous games”

--NYT Sunday Book Review


“When the NazI commander comes to live in their house and a cousin active in the underground returns to town, the tension becomes palpable. Based on Akila Couloumbis’s (husband of co-author Audrey) life, this understated novel puts readers right in the middle of a NazI occupation, with little movie-style high drama but a sure sense of what it was really like—the desire to get on with everyday life, the unease, the secrets and the quiet acts of defiance in the face of life-threatening circumstances. A fine introduction to an important aspect of World War II and to the spirit of resistance the times required.” (Historical fiction. 8-12)

--Kirkus Review


“The Couloumbises craft a poignant and plainspoken account of the everyday impacts of a vast war and the importance of small victories.” Ages 8–12. 

--Publisher’s Weekly, (Oct.) 


“The strangeness of the slide from daily life, when playing boy games is an important pastime, to sudden occupation, when those same games can become a cover for rebellion, is depicted with sharp perceptiveness.”

--The Bulletin


“A grand read, and deeply satisfying. Memorable.” 

--School Library Journal


“A Junior Library Guild Selection” for Fall 2009

Maine Student Book Award Nominee, 2010-2011.























"Tart characterizations, lively dialogue and Elvira's frank narration keep this perceptive novel both credible and buoyant."                                                           

--Publishers Weekly, starred review 


"Couloumbis is at the top of her form here as she constructs believable, complex characters and sets them in dynamic relationships with one another."                   

--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books


Couloumbis’s rich, realistic dialogue between mothers, daughters and sisters will induce both laughter and sniffles in middle-grade fans of Kimberly Willis Holt and Catherine Murdock. As sweetly sappy and touching as the song it’s named for.”                                                                    --Kirkus 


“Gr 5-8.  Strong character development, snappy dialogue, and humorous situations carry this novel. While the central plot is ultimately predictable and not particularly fresh, readers will enjoy Elvira’s voice and the humor, and just might want to find out more about Elvis Presley.”
--School Library Journal






















A Booksense pick

... expertly navigates the ebb and flow of a family drama in which hope proves to be made of "really tough stuff if it was still able to draw breath around here." A strong Vietnam War-era and coming-of-age story. 


... poignantly captures the tensions, uncertainties, and rifts caused by the Vietnam War...first-person, present-tense narrative conveys powerful emotions with the simplest of words... spare, strong writing aptly conveys a difficult time in America.
--School Library Journal


... an individual voice, at once innocent and sassy. It's clear that no matter how sad this story gets-and it does-it won't get sentimental, the fault of many books for this age group.
--Washington Post Book World


... a vivid, affecting cast of characters sifts through a family's complex sorrow, anger, and love with incisive clarity and honesty: "i purely hated them all," says Grace of her feuding family. The questions that Grace and her young cousins ask about the Vietnam War may help contemporary readers articulate their own concerns about war, patriotism, and personal morality.
--from Booklist


... individuals made real through small details of character and their rough affection for one another. When a beloved uncle dies, Grace learns that life holds no guarantees but that, in the toughest times, "family was there to catch you." 
--Horn Book 


Newberry Honor award winner Audrey Couloumbis again shows her talent for creating unforgettable characters in a story that will resonate with contemporary readers.

-- Nominated for Best Books for Young Adults, YALSA


















“Readers will grow to love Vinnie’s vulnerability and sincerity. Not exactly a perfect story. But it comes pretty close.”

--Kirkus *Starred Review*


“Couloumbis’s Newbery Honor book, GETTING NEAR TO BABY, broke my heart—her new bookand YA debut is about a boy and a girl and a telephone: It’s 1977, and, through a series of anonymous phone calls, 15-year-old Vinnie develops a relationship with the neighbor he has a crush on. Does this sound kind of odd? Yes. Am I really looking forward to letting Couloumbis blow my doubts out of the water again? Yes.”

--The Atlantic Monthly’s Atlantic Wire (The Fall Preview of Cross Under Reads)


“As the emotional stakes rise, Vinnie’s story becomes compulsively readable. The more he clings to the masks he’s made, the more his vulnerability comes through… His personality has been rendered in enough warm, honest detail to drive a sequence of events that, left to a lesser writer, might feel cartoonish.”

--The NewYork Times


"Couloumbis writes with fluid and tender beauty about a kid who’s hoping he can just pretend to be who he wants to be and ends up finding himself on the way."

--The Bulletin (November 2012)


“The book’s 1970s setting, with its lack of cell phones, allows for a sense of anticipation to build around Vinnie and Patsy’s nightly calls and moves their burgeoning relationship front and center. Couloumbis’s novel, refreshingly sweet and nostalgic, is a solid choice for teenage romantics.”

--Horn Book


“A story that shows "Catfishing" happening back before Facebook and the Internet, this story offers a glimpse of the 1970s to today's teenager.”

--News and Sentinel (Parkersburg, WV)


”Set in the 1970s, this offbeat love story humorously portrays the moments of vulnerability and bravado that change the course of these two teenagers' fates. Couloumbis (Lexie) steadily builds tension (the romance between Patsy and Vinnie never feels like a foregone conclusion) in a story with superb comedic repartees and a twisty-turvy plot.”

--Publisher’s Weekly, November 5, 2012

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