Ages 8 and up; Random House; 1999
"In VISITING MISS CAPLES, one generation reaches
out movingly to another at that scary, necessary moment when you
declare your independence from your peer group leader, and begin
to look around for your life." - Richard Peck, author of the 2000
Dewberry Medal Winner A YEAR DOWN YONDER.
Story: Did you ever have the feeling that your life had taken
some kind of a turn-and you weren't even sure exactly how it happened?
I was already a few weeks into this visiting-the-old-people
class project. My assignment was one Elspeth Caples, a silent, strange
old lady who hadn't been out of the house in half a decade. At first
our routine consisted of her staring at the rug while I read aloud.
But today, something happened. Maybe it wouldn't have if I hadn't
run out of things to read, and ended up talking about how shaky
things had gotten between me and my best friend, Liv. And how once
again my dad wasn't actually at his office working late like he
said he was. All I know is that today she started to talk-mostly
about this girl, a friend once worshiped and then lost, a person
she described as "dangerous." So we're not exactly friends, Miss
Caples and me, but we did make this connection. And I feel like
it's about to take us into, I don't know, some unforeseeable territory-and
that I'm not the only one who's excited about, and a little afraid
of, what we might discover.
Cody Kimmel got the idea for this story from a scene in Harper Lee's
To Kill a Mockingbird, in which, as a punishment, the character
Jem is made to spend a week reading to an elderly neighbor. With
that, and with additional inspiration provided by some old family
photographs, Visiting Miss Caples got its start.
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