The Society of School Librarians
International Honor Book Award:
Hillary De Baun has received the distinguished Society of School Librarians International Honor Book Award for 2013.
Hillary De Baun contemplates the meaning of friendship in its many guises. A poignant parallel plot involving Arabelle’s volunteer work at a local nursing home elevates this story beyond the traditional quirky-girl-conquers-high-school scenario. Arabelle’s blossoming friendships with several memorable residents ultimately transform her perspective on life and herself. Effervescent and optimistic, Arabelle demonstrates that on stage or off, everyone should take a starring role in her life.
School Library Journal
Arabelle Archer is just starting high school. She wants an exciting life and new friends but she faces awkward moments and tiring battles with upperclassmen. She escapes by daydreaming and reading racy romance novels. Her friend, practical Erna Sue Comstock, suggests that Alex volunteer for community service so that she can get into a good college, and then her guidance counselor asks her to volunteer at the Heavenly Rest Nursing Home. Alex reluctantly agrees, but finds herself becoming attached to some of the residents. Her heart is set on Drama Club and performing in the school play but senior Bonnie Atwood is determined to crush her dream. In a heartwarming ending, Arabelle becomes a star in her own way, but learns that there is more to life than a starring role. The protagonist is a likable, well-developed character whom most readers will relate to as she muddles through some experiences but shines in others. Readers will relate to her high-school jitters, and drama-club fans will enjoy the numerous cast scenes.
~ Lisa Gieskes, Richland County Public Library, Columbia, SC.
This thoughtful story explores serious issues of death and friendship, but the infusion of humor keeps it from being too heavy a read.
Starring Arabelle is a first-time novel for Hillary Hall De Baun, who has a hit with a working plot and great cast, especially the lovable, well-developed Arabelle Alexis Archer. Alex begins freshman year at James Madison Regional High School determined to follow her aspirations and dreams of a theatrical future… In heartwarming fashion, Arabelle becomes a star while also learning that there is more to life than a starring role. Readers will relate as Alex muddles through some experiences while shining in others, and drama club fans will enjoy the numerous cast scenes in this rewarding read about Arabelle’s trials and tribulations, joys and sorrows, all staunchly faced, and with a don’t-ever-give-up, be-yourself theme.