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Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  9,520 ratings  ·  1,519 reviews
Not only is Turner Buckminster the son of the new minister in a small Maine town, he is shunned for playing baseball differently than the local boys. Then he befriends smart and lively Lizzie Bright Griffin, a girl from Malaga Island, a poor community founded by former slaves. Lizzie shows Turner a new world along the Maine coast from digging clams to rowing a boat next to ...more
Paperback, 219 pages
Published April 25th 2006 by Yearling Books (first published May 24th 2004)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,520 ratings  ·  1,519 reviews

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Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was forced to take a moment and catch my breath after I closed this book. I needed to gather myself, order my thoughts, and reflect on everything I had just read. The best part about it? I will still need to do so for a long time to come. I can already predict the amount of "staying power" this book will have upon my mind, and the thought makes me smile.

I will be able to categorize every YA book, from here on out, into two categories: The YA books I've read before this book, and the YA books I
Feb 25, 2009 added it
Alright...I have so much to say about this book...this is a winner, a really good book. Excellent. My first Printz Award book for this class. More soon.

Okay..Here's the "more soon" part. This book won the Printz Award, and I really like how they describe their criteria for literary excellence and quality on their website by what it is not. For example, a book is not quality simply by being popular. Although, of course, the two are not mutually exclusive. This book does not look to me like it was
Nov 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
a little boring
Slow beginning and middle. Picks up a little in the last 1/4, but not enough to make up for the other 3/4. The book tries to teach a message, but it takes so long in getting there that its a little bit anti-climatic once it does come.
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such a good book. I recommend it to adults as well as tweens and teens.
Davis Smith
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
11/2020: Six years later, a review where I bashed a book because I disagree with Darwinism has unfortunately become one of my most popular reviews. That's not what I want to be known for, and my original review was from when I was much less mature and willing to consider other viewpoints. I was obsessed with defending my own dogmas and not with considering art and ideas in my evaluations. I don't remember hardly anything about the book now so I won't be providing a real review in its place. That ...more
Mar 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone ages 12 and up who can appreciate a well-written, touching tale
Wow. This was an incredibly written, heartbreaking tale. I absolutely loved it. I listened to it on CD while traveling, and so many times I wanted to pull my car over, rewind, and write down a quote from the book. The writing was just amazing. What more can I say.
I'm sorry to say I didn't like this book at all. It wasn't terrible, I just found it terribly boring. I actually fell asleep twice while reading it, and almost fell asleep a bunch more times throughout. I think it's just Gary Schmidt's writing style. I've never been very fond of overly descriptive narration. At least half of this book is just description, and most of it not essential description, or at least it felt like it to me. I also didn't like the ending. I understand that this book was ba ...more
Lars Guthrie
May 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
In 'The Wednesday Wars', Schmidt visited the Vietnam War era. Here he goes back to 1912, just as successfully. But calling 'Lizzie Bright' an historical novel, though it is based on real events, is too limiting.

Like 'Wednesday Wars,' it's about a boy growing up and beyond his father, helped along by a spunky girl and some wise women. Unlike that book, though, it's not completely about finding happy endings. The town of Phippsburg, Maine, did evict the black settlers of neighboring Malaga Island
Katie Ziegler (Life Between Words)
Oh boy. Gary Schmidt. I thought maybe Orbiting Jupiter was his most tragic book...but no. In terms of sadness and tragedy, this one throws that one out of the water. And I was not expecting that. I thought going in that it was going to be a sweet story of a summertime friendship taking place at the turn of the century - and it is in part, but if that's how I were to actually describe the book to someone...well, I'd be lying. That description hardly says *anything* about the book. Because it's no ...more
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-fiction
Oh Gary D. Schmidt-how do I love thee, let me count the ways.

1. Wonderful insight into boys who really try to be good. Even better in this book with all of poor Turners mishaps
2. His love of the arts and the influence they can have for good in lives both young and old
3. Connection with nature
4. Constant exploration of how the young are the ones who are still innocent enough to try harder, especially with treating people right.
5. Belief in the innate goodness of most people, even if it takes most
Isha R
Oct 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
WORST BOOK EVER. A lot of repetition and slow paced plot events. Too much confusing whale metaphors. It was overall boring and it just wasn't intriguing. It was the book that did not really pull you in and you just wanted to abandon it. If you are looking for a historical fiction book, don't read this one. I would give it one star. ...more
May 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Almost perfect. It’s got that signature Schmidt style (it might be recognizable, but it’s always great) but is less sprawling than other Schmidt books - it feels like it takes up less space than them, like it’s narrower in scope. It’s a result of this being historical fiction written as historical fiction, I think, whereas his other books read like historical fiction written as contemporary fiction.

Maybe “narrower” isn’t the right description, but this definitely feels constrained by history: t
Alex Johnson
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ms-recs
This book is so gut-wrenchingly sad. Schmidt weaves themes of not fitting in and racism and exclusion and grief all into one season of Turner Buckminster's life. Every character, big or small, feels fully human. And maybe it's because my mom taught this book, but I love the personified descriptions of the landscapes. And I love the lines in this—prison bars, the whale's eye, and being swallowed up by the world.

There definitely is happiness in this story, but all I'm seeing is the real grief and
Allyson Faith
Feb 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a young adult novel that I've been hearing about for the last year. It is remarkable, and I now wish I'd read it earlier. I want everyone I know to read it --it's that good. It's set in 1912 in a small town in Maine. The main character is the teenage son of a minister who has a new job in this town--so this boy, Turner, his father and mother move from Boston to Maine. Turner doesn't hit it off with the local boys, but one day when beachcombing he meets Lizzie Bright--one of the young Afr ...more
Sep 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
This book was so beautifully written - especially the descriptive scenes of the natural setting, coastal of Maine about a century ago - that it brought tears to my eyes. The wind, in particular, grew to be a playful and communicative character of its own, calling out to Turner, drawing him to the seashore, playfully guiding him. Consequently, the setting of this story is absolutely mesmerizing and enthralling.

The copper of the sky had deepened into a dark red, and the dark red was now d
C.J. O'B
Apr 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Although this book had a slow start at the beginning, the last couple of meetings we had really hooked me in, and this book deserved at least a three or four star rating in my opinion. I enjoyed the lot's of action towards the end, and I liked the descriptive language author Gary D. Shmidt used in the text. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction. ...more
Nov 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster boy was definitely a cute book. The characters were mostly stock characters though, which was disappointing. The main character, Turner, learns a lot from his father, his mother, Darwin, and the girl he meets on Malaga Island, Lizzie Bright. He learns to stand up for himself, even when it went against his parents' wishes. The theme of racism is very strong in this book, and Turner aims to fight the racism of the town elders, but ultimately fails. This book is tr ...more
May 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: award-winners
I did not intend to like this book, I must admit. The hardcover cover illustration was . . . well, off-putting for me, and I'm really glad they did something new, because this is a book not to be missed. Based on true events, it's the story of a preacher's son who befriends a free black girl, on the eve of her community being destroyed to make way for a resort. Yep, a New England community of freed slaves and their children were ousted from their homes so that the view wouldn't be spoiled. But m ...more
Linda Hart
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved everything about this book and have added Gary D. Smith to my favorite authors list. This is coming-of-age historical fiction at is best, with gorgeous lyrical writing and heart-wrenching emotional reactions. The various themes and conflicts are delicately and deftly presented and handled. Schmidt not only has a remarkable way with words, but his characters almost seem to leap from his book because they are so real. A compelling and powerful read, it will stay with me long after I closed ...more
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love the simple artistry of this book. It has all the elements that I love in a good book: distinct characters, acute and vivid description of geography, and redemption.

Here is a sampling of the poetic language Schmidt used to weave this tale of deep sorrow and deep friendship...

The world turns and the world spins, the tide runs in and the time runs out, and there is nothing in the world more beautiful and more wonderful in all its evolved forms than two souls who look at each other straight
Valerie Kyriosity
Well. That was about as depressing as it gets. And don't think I missed the message that we can only care about justice if we abandon orthodoxy. Tell me: who in this story lived their life more by the principle of survival of the fittest? Exactly. Sorry...not buying your inconsistent-with-reality worldview. ...more
Oct 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael Fitzgerald
So much to like about this book: a great story pulled from history, well-rounded complex characters (and not just the main ones), a plot without a good deal of predictability, and a wonderful setting.

Unfortunately, the author isn't quite up to telling a story from over a century ago. Based on my experiences with books actually from that time, so much of the dialogue and interactions here do not ring true. One could argue, I suppose, that those old books aren't truthful, but I think it's a much
Jun 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I’m a huge Gary Schmidt fan. I love that he doesn’t dumb down his writing for his young audience. Whether he’s writing about Shakespeare, Audubon birds, or Aeneas, you get swept away by his stories. And this historical fiction about the citizens of Malaga Island was no exception. 5 stars because I’m likely to come back and read it again. And also because I’m not likely to ever drink a ginger ale again without thinking of poor Mrs Cobb!

“Books can ignite fires in your mind, because they carry idea
Mar 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Turner Buckminster has lived in Phippsburg, Maine for almost six whole hours. He has dipped his hands in its waves, smelled the sharp scent of its pine trees. He has looked out at the sea. Turner has even seen the clapboard parsonage beside the church his father will minister now that they are no longer in Boston and the small house beyond whose function he could not yet fathom (and soon enough would not believe).

Six whole hours in Maine.

He didn't know how much longer he could stand it.

After a d
Mar 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Very interesting story about Turner Buckminster who moves with his minister father & mother to a small town, Phippsburg, Maine and a group of people who live nearby on Malaga island. Pay attention to Turner’s father and this quote on page 215-216, “The world turns and the world spins, the tide runs in and the tide runs out and there is nothing in the world more beautiful and more wonderful in all it’s evolved forms than two souls who look at each other straight on. And there is nothing more woef ...more
Apr 28, 2017 added it
I enjoyed reading this book but at the start of the book, its slow and not much happens but, in the end, it heats up. It's one of my favorite book club books I've read this year. ...more
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, juvenile
You can never go wrong with a book by Gary Schmidt. As always, the writing is just beautiful, deeply sad, yet hopeful. The pain of injustice and prejudice will pull at your soul.
Nov 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kristine by: Trent Mikesell
This was a really good book. I really really liked it. After I read the book the author's note at the end said it was based on a true story!!! Made the ending even sadder!

This is the story of a minister's family who moves from Boston to small-town Maine at the turn of the century. There is some conflict between the town and the residents of a nearby island . . . but this book is so much more than that.

The only thing that kept it from a 5 star is that I think in most situations of conflict ther
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: book club
Turner Buckminster moves to Maine when his father takes a position as a minister in Phippsburg in the early 1900's. Turner becomes friends with Lizzie Bright who is from a poor island community founded by former slaves. As he develops relationships with Lizzie and others from the town, he faces prejudice and other social difficulties. It is interesting to watch the growth of the characters as they face adversity. While the book addresses some tough topics, it also has its lighter moments as well ...more
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Gary D. Schmidt is an American children's writer of nonfiction books and young adult novels, including two Newbery Honor books. He lives on a farm in Alto, Michigan,with his wife and six children, where he splits wood, plants gardens, writes, feeds the wild cats that drop by and wishes that sometimes the sea breeze came that far inland. He is a Professor of English at Calvin College.


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“Books can ignite fires in your mind, because they carry ideas for kindling, and art for matches.” 123 likes
“The world turns and the world spins, the tide runs in and the tide runs out, and there is nothing in the world more beautiful and more wonderful in all its evolved forms than two souls who look at each other straight on. And there is nothing more woeful and soul-saddening than when they are parted...everything in the world rejoices in the touch, and everything in the world laments in the losing.” 45 likes
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