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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  416 ratings  ·  65 reviews
Eleven-year-old Toby Steiner wants to do normal things on his vacation. He wants to hike and race his bike down the hill. He wants to learn to fish out on the lake. He doesn’t want to return to the children’s hospital where his painful cancer treatment finally ended. When Toby starts spending time with Pearl, a spunky old woman who lives on a nearby farm, and Blossom, her...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by Square Fish (first published August 10th 2004)
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(showing 1-30 of 623)
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Toby Steiner is eleven years old and is supposed to be in remission – he’s not. But he wants a normal life more than anything – one where he isn’t sick all the time, one where he doesn’t have to spend his life in and out of hospitals, taking treatments that make him feel even worse than the cancer does. So, when he discovers that the cancer has returned, Toby decides to keep it a secret for as long as he can. His mother takes him away for summer vacation to a secluded cabin in the country, but i...more
Breanna Smith
Defiance by Valerie Hobbs is about a boy named Toby and his struggle against cancer. During the summer he takes a vacation to the countryside, where he meets an old woman named Pearl and Blossom her cow. They end up becoming friends and neighbors. Since Toby has cancer he is not supposed to do a lot of things because his mother worries. But as any kid would do, he disobeys his mother. On his morning bike ride he sees a cow that looks a little too thin. The next day he decides to confront the own...more
Dec 17, 2008 Kantorfan96 rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All wishing to seek a different type of book, and to people who can bear a little depression.
Recommended to Kantorfan96 by: Librarian
This book was recommended to me and I instantly felt compelled to read it. Toby is a boy who just wants a normal life away from cancer. When life just about gets a push in the right direction Toby discovers a "lump" (tumor) on his arm. Throughout the book Toby strives to keep this secret away from his parents. Along the way he meets an old lady named Rose, who through poetry, teaches Toby a different side of life.
Valerie Hobbs exceeds the skill of elaborating or describing the scenery, every d...more
KidsFiction Teton County Library
TCL call number: J Hobbs

not rated

Eleven-year-old Toby Steiner wants to do normal things on his vacation; race his bike down hills and fish out of a lake. The last thing he wants is to return to the hospital for more cancer treatment. The chemotherapy he endured was painful enough the first time; and no matter what happens, Toby is determined never to go back. That's why he hides a growth from his parents, knowing that will mean the end of his break, and the end of his new friendship with his 94-...more
I came across this 2005 title while we were weeding our fiction collection, and although this is only 116 pages long, there's a lot here. Toby has been treated for cancer, and he is desperate to live like a normal kid. He and his mom are spending the summer in a cabin; his dad comes up for some weekends. Toby's mom is (understandably, I thought, as a parent) super-protective: helmet, sunblock. Toby has found another lump, but he's stalling telling his parents, because he dreads the long course o...more
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This story is about a boy named Toby who had cancer and is now cured. He has an over protective mom, who worries too much about him. It is summer vacation and all Toby wants to do are normal things. He wants to hike and race his bike down the hill, and learn how to fish on the lake. What he doesn’t want to do is go back to the Children’s Hospital where his painful cancer treatment finally ended. The plan was that his dad would arrive to the little cabin they rented on Fridays, and leave on Sunda...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Actually 3.5 stars.

This was a good, if short, book. In just over 100 pages, the author developed the theme of...well, freedom.

Toby is eleven years old. He has cancer. They thought it was gone, so he went on vacation...only to find the lump on his side. He decides to keep it a secret.

On his vacation he meets a cow named Blossom and then her owner, a famous retired poet named Pearl. An odd friendship follows. Pearl helps Toby make a decision and Blossom the cow teaches them both about the meaning...more
Maureen Milton
I picked this up as a possibility for my Intermediate readers who want accessible realistic fiction with a few tears at the end and "Defiance" proved to be just that. It opens with 11-year-old Toby, who has undergone treatment for cancer, meeting a neighboring cow. He is away on vacation with his mother, while his dad comes in on the weekends from work.

Toby develops a fondness for Blossom the cow, and eventually gains a job as her milker and as a house-helper to Blossom's aged, infirm owner, Pea...more
Abby Johnson
Eleven-year-old Toby isn't telling his parents about the lump that has reappeared on his side. No way, no how. He's been through surgery, chemo, and hospital stays and he's done. He wants to enjoy his summer vacation out in the country. He wants to ride his bike. And he wants to hang out with his new friend Pearl. Pearl is an unlikely friend for an elevn-year-old boy. She's old, practically blind, and she rages against her daughters who want her to abandon her old farmhouse and move in with one...more
Toby Steiner is eleven years old and he is going through cancer. Toby's one wish is to be able to do normal activities like other children and not go back to the Children's Hospital where he just recently had his cancer treatment. Toby has made a friend on a nearby farm named Pearl and he also talks to Pearl's cow, Blossom. Another reason why Toby fears going back to the Children's Hospital is because he has a lump on the side of his leg and he doesn't want to tell his parents because he wants t...more
Defiance is about a boy named Toby who has had cancer all his life. Apparently he is cured now and goes on vacation to rest. He wants to do everything a normal 11-year-old boy would want to do but cant. He meets an old lady and a cow that show him a new way to look at life. A couple days in he notices a symptom that has proven he still has cancer. But he decides not to tell his parents and hang out with his new, VERY old , poetic friend.

This book was very uninteresting. I think that the author c...more
I've only read three (of 15 total) of the books for this years elementary SSYRA, but I suspect this book will be one of the best of the bunch. It is the story of an 11 year old boy named Toby living with cancer. His parents take him on an extended vacation in the country that he never wants to end. So much so, he has chosen not to tell his parents about the telltale lump that nearly certainly signals that his remission is over. He meets Pearl, an elderly former poet, and begins helping her aroun...more
Michelle  Simpson
Eleven-year-old Toby is a child who has been dealing with cancer for the majority of his life. He is tired of the treatments and being sick; he just wants to do normal things. When he meets Pearl, an elderly poet, and her cow Blossom, he is challenged in a new way.
I love this book so much because it really gives incite of how it feels from many perspectives. From the cow to pearl and her kids. T toby and POpeye, to tobys parents. This book was amazing.
Kim B.
What can I say? I wish it were longer. I loved getting to know Toby and Pearl (their friendship reminded me of a platonic version of "Harold and Maude," just slightly), and I didn't think their story deserved to be wrapped up in only 115 pages or so, with a three paragraph afterword. Then again, if it had gone on longer it may have lost its appeal to me... no, no way. This was such a good story, with such good writing. It deserved at least fifty more pages to flesh everything out just a bit more...more
I just loved this older book in our collection that I have NO idea why it just called to me on the shelf! It's about 11 year old Toby who is in remission from cancer and his (WAY over protective) mom and (workaholic) dad take him to a cabin to vacation for the summer. Toby discovers that he just wants to be a normal kid and when he discovers that the lump in his side has returned he chooses to not tell his mom and ride his bike without a helmet; lay in the field with Blossom, a rescued cow; and...more
Sarah B
Defiance is about a boy named Toby who has cancer. He's on vacation but he can't do a lot because of his over protective mom. One day he's riding his bike and meets an old lady named Pearl and a cow named Blossom. Pearl is nearly blind but teaches Toby many things and teaches him about the love of poetry. But Toby finds a bump on his leg. He doesn't want to tell his mom and return to the hospital.

I loved Defiance. It was a great book. It's a great book for kids in 4th-7th grade and even some adu...more
Apr 25, 2009 Megan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 4th grade and up
Ex-cancer-patient Toby defies his parents by not telling them about the return of his tumor. Ex-poet Pearl defies her family and publisher by living alone and refusing to write more poetry. Brought together by an ailing cow, Toby and Pearl learn from each other exactly what freedom is, and how surrender can sometimes be just as strong as defiance. With a tone not too light-hearted but not too depressing, Valerie Hobbs creates a sweet book that will stick with readers long after the story's over.
Jennifer Hanneken
I read this because it is a young Hoosier nominee this year. It was excellent! It had many references to "classical" poetry, and it really brought it down to the understanding level of an upper elementary or middle school student. I can see this being used to "spring-board" or "tie-together" a unit on poetry. It was also particularly moving for me as the child deals with a life-threatening illness and the idea of death--it made me think of my own "sicky" kid, Harry.
2007 Rebecca Caudill nominee. This is a story about an eleven year old boy named Toby who is vacation and befriends an older lady. Toby struggles because he has cancer and wants to be able to do things other kids take for granted like riding a bike. Pearl because she needs Toby as much as he needs her but for different reasons. It is a very touching book with an uplifting ending. The book helps you think about what children with cancer go through.
Defiance is a great book that explains and gives an inside look at the emotional rollercoasters of cancer. This book is one of my favorites. I would most deffinately reccomend this book to anybody, especially people who need an escape from their own problems. I absolutely LOVED this book. Once i picked it up i couldnt put it down because i just had to know what would happen next. Kudos to Valerie Hobbs.
Houston Miller
Jan 09, 2013 Houston Miller is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This has been very good so far, its about a young boy named Toby that has cancer and his mom doesn't think he can do everything a normal kid can. But Toby proves he can, he goes on bike rides and milks pearls cow blossom almost everyday. and now his mother makes him wear a mask when he goes to pearls because she saw how messy the place was, she is just worried that Toby will become sick again.
A small little story about being able to make your own choices about your life. Toby is 11 and doesn't want to continue with his cancer treatments. Pearl is 90 and wants to live on her own, without interference from her daughters. Together, with an amazing cow, Blossom, they are able to give each other the strength to find their paths.

A YA novel.
This book made me cry I felt so badly for the little boy. He had cancer and was staying at his lake house with his mom. he rode his bike down the rode one monring and met an old woman. He latter became good friends with her. He spent every day at her house and worked for her. when he went back to the hospitle he called her every day, untell the day he died.
I can connect this book to another book that I just finished. It's called The Cay. I can connect it to The Cay because it's about understanding people who are different from you, basically, it means to understand everyone. For this book it's about a boy with cancer and a old woman who's daughters want her to leave the farm and the country.
I got a feeling for the country from this book. The smell of clover, flies buzzing around a cow's head. Great description and interaction between characters. A quick read... perhaps low on the excitement arc. A sick boy makes a choice about his life, after hanging out with an old, eccentric, independent woman. 22,040 words,
Oct 10, 2011 Marcia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: grades 4-6, sad books
Recommended to Marcia by: MCBA
Shelves: mcba, grades-4-6
The touching story of Toby, a boy dealing with cancer, and his very special friendship with an elderly poet. They are just what each other needs, and both are courageous and strong. I really appreciated getting the young cancer patient's views on what treatment was like for him, not just his parents' point of view.
Apr 08, 2008 Katie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teenagers
Recommended to Katie by: the shelves in Mrs. Schultz's classroom
This book is great! I loved reading it!

It's about a boy who has cancer. He has to go to the hospital little, but when he's there it seems forever. He lives in a log cabin by this old lady. He eventually comes to be friends with her and sees her regularly! Read and Watch the adventures grow!
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Valerie Hobbs is the author of many award winning novels for young adults including Sonnys War, Tender, and How Far Would You Have Gotten If I Hadnt Called You Back, for which she was designated a Flying Start author by Publishers Weekly in 1996. Hobbs was the winner of the 1999 PEN/Norma Klein award for an emerging voice of literary merit among American writers of childrens fiction and the Arizon...more
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