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Getting Near to Baby

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  3,030 Ratings  ·  148 Reviews
A Southern charmer for fans of Newbery Honor book Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Audrey Couloumbis's masterful debut novel brings to mind Karen Hesse, Katherine Paterson, and Betsy Byars's The Summer of the Swans—it is a story you will never forget. 

Willa Jo and Little Sister are up on the roof at Aunt Patty’s house. Willa Jo went up to watch the sunrise, and Little Si
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 24th 2001 by Puffin Books (first published September 13th 1999)
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(showing 1-30)
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Linda Lipko
Feb 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Come watch the sunrise on Aunt Patty and Uncle Hob's roof with thirteen year old Willa Jo and her seven-year old grief stricken, mute "Little Sister."

It is hot and steep and dangerous, but the view allows a vista different from what is happening inside the grieving souls of two lonely, heart-broken little girls who recently lost their baby sister.

Once you are up there, why leave? In fact, why not stay throughout the day as neighbors gawk and Aunt Patty vigorously plys her guilt in an attempt to
Rebecca McNutt
May 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Haunting novel, written from the perspective of innocent eyes and using child-like innuendo to describe the grief of Willa Jo's mom. Deep, unsettling and incredibly sad story, and definitely worth reading.
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grief, middle-grade
I actually read this several years ago, before I married or had children and thought it was deeply moving. Now that I have experienced the loss of a child, I would like to go back and re-read, particularly for the perspective of what it is like for an older sibling to grieve.
The Book Girl (Andrea)
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review and more published on The Young Girl Who Loved Books.

I have not read a more moving book. Without a shadow of a doubt, this book is emotionally scarring. This is a profound, heartbreaking, and sometimes witty story that deserves the Newberry Honor it received. I am not sure there is much I hated about this book. I have never said this before but I believe this book might have no flaws.

Now for some backstory. I was wondering aimlessly around my favorite bookstore in my favorite litt
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This is a beautifully written and poignant story that, like many of the greats in children's literature, reveals the observations, insights and perspectives that children have about the adults in their lives.
Lesli Diaz
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I gave this book a 5/5 because I liked that it had lots of descriptions and also because it was interesting for me. This book was about two girls one named Little Sister and the other one named Willa Jo, they spent the summer with their aunt, Aunt Patty. When Little Sister's And Willa Jo's baby sister died Little Sister wouldn't speak she would just nod and say yes or no with her hands, as months past Willa Jo, Aunt Patty, and her mother tried to make her talk again but they couldn't.I would rec ...more
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery-honor
I must say I was a little apprehensive about starting this book given the subject matter. Audrey Couloumbis writes of life after the heart-breaking loss of a child from the point of view of an older sister, but the amazing thing is her ability to describe the experience with an honest voice without drowning the reader in sadness. Not an easy task. I'm glad she added an 'About the Author' section at the back which explains that she was around Willa Jo's age when her Aunt's child died, and another ...more
Sierra Webber
Bk-15 Getting near to baby: this books starts off with Willa Jo living a normal life but soon things start to change her dad starts to rarely be present. And HSR baby sister gets really sick all night and dies the next morning. Willa Jo's younger sister stops talking amongst her greif and things start to change the house gets messy no one eats right and everyone in her family falls in deep despair so eventually the girls get sent to live with their aunt which Willa Jo does not like one bit her a ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best stories about grief and loss I've ever read. It makes me happy and frustrated that it is a "children's book." Happy because kids need and deserve books this well written (this is the caliber bridge to terabithia and on my honor WISH they were) and frustrated because adults won't read it even though they should. Books in this genre can sometimes feel manipulative, easy tear-jerking without enough substance. That doesn't happen here. You should read this book. Imagine it's ...more
Apr 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, classics
Reminiscent of Dicey's Song, in terms of young people dealing with tragedy and being uprooted and somewhat betrayed by their parents, as well as in the narrative voice.
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
It took me a while to get into this book, but each time I put it down, there was an empty space wanting to be filled with answers. The more I got to know Willa Jo and Little Sister, as well as Aunt Patty, Uncle Hob and Mom, the more my questions yearned for answers.

This story, about a summer filled with grief and the different ways of trying to cope with it, is hauntingly spiritual. Despite the well-meaning efforts of Aunty Patty and her churchgoing neighbors, the spiritual depths are mined by a
From the book jacket:
"This is a funny, sometimes heartbreaking, story about sisters, about grief, and about healing. Two girls must come to terms with the death of their baby sister, their mother’s unshakable depression, and the ridiculously controlling aunt who takes them in and means well but just doesn’t understand children. Willa Jo has to try and make things right in their new home, but she and Aunt Patty keep butting heads. Until the morning the two girls climb up to the roof of her house.
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I recommend reading this book in November or when it's too gloomy to see sunrise and sunset. The author paints pictures of both that are almost as breathtaking as watching a real one. This book follows four characters coping with grief, notably the young teen narrator. There are a few stock characters, too, such as a Nellie Oleson type in a predictable scene. Anyone not sure what to say when someone is grieving may find a good lesson or suggestion in this story.
Laura Hoyler
Jul 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery-awards
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Starynight Books and Teas
Feb 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
Just couldn't get into it, so much so, I couldn't even finish reading it. Just not my cup of tea I guess.
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A sweet, sad gem of a book.
Mar 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Without a doubt, Getting near to baby is one of the most emotionally affecting books that I've read in quite a while. Everything about its sometimes sad, sometimes silly, continually profound story commends it for the Newbery Honor that it received. As a whole, it is near-flawless.

The writing of author Audrey Couloumbis is sweetened with a depth of poignancy that suggests from the start that this is no ordinary book. The narrative begins with young Willa Jo and Little Sister out on the roof of
Oct 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Getting Near to Baby, by Audrey Couloumbis. (Puffin Books, 1999). 211 p. Realistic Fiction.

Summary: After the death of her baby sister, Willa Jo is taken to live with her Aunt Patty, as her mother is steeped in a deep depression. Willa Jo relationship with Patty is strained, and she finds herself up on the roof one morning, watching the sunrise, and sorting through the turmoil of the past few months.

Critique: a) Couloumbis’ portrayal of Willa Jo as a struggling preteen is very authentic. The de
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
It was interesting, mostly. There were some parts where it dragged, the whole thing probably could have been a little bit shorter, but on the whole it was very good.

Willa Jo and Little Sister have climbed up onto the roof of their aunt's house to watch the sunrise, and have not come down since. They've been living with their aunt since their father left and their baby sister died, leaving their mom too grief-stricken to care for them. In spite of the fact that living with their mom does offer th
Mar 13, 2008 rated it liked it
After the death of their baby sister, Willa Jo and Little Sister's family falls apart. The death of their baby sister had affect their family members in different ways, but what is in common is they are all suffering and all they want is their life to be normal once again. Their mother sink into the guiltness of herself not taking good care of the baby, so they were forced to live with their strict Aunt Patty and her husband. Little Sister refuses to talk ever since baby sister died and Willa Jo ...more
Shelby Olszewski
May 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Willa Jo and her little sister are sent to stay with their aunt after the sudden death of their baby sister. The story starts with the two sisters being at their aunts, and climbing out onto the roof one morning. The girls refuse to listen to their aunt to come down, and stay on the roof a very long time. While on the roof Willa Jo will take the reader back to earlier in the week telling different events that happened. After being on the roof all morning the girls Uncle came out on the roof with ...more
Getting Near to Baby / by Audrey Couloumbis (1999) SUMMARY: Although, 13-year-old Willa Jo and her Aunt Patty seem to be constantly at odds, staying with her and Uncle Hob helps the Willa Jo and her younger sister come to terms with the death of their family's baby. COMMENT: This is a very sad story with some happy occasions thrown in. An extended family is dealing with the death of Baby in their own ways. But it takes Willa Jo climbing out on the roof closely followed by Little Sister to cause ...more
Angela Scott
Apr 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
This Newbery Honor winning realistic fiction book is about a girl in the process of grieving lost family climb up onto their aunt's roof and will not climb down. While other neighbors and family members attempt to persuade the girls to come down the older sister reviews recent events in her mind; including her baby sister's death, her dislike of being sent to live with her aunt and the most recent argument that caused her to climb up onto the roof. This realistic heart warming story about grief ...more
Amy Chen
Mar 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Saw this lying around and reread it.

I forgot how heartbreaking it is but at the same time not? I don't think I really understood everything when I read it at 10 but there's this part where Willa Jo is describing her mother's painting of the clouds opening to heaven and it took me back to when I envied so much to paint like that. After rereading that passage now it's just kind of painful.

Also, I forgot how beautiful and observant the descriptions of the sky are in this book.

"My heart feels like
2000 Newbery Honor Book

This is a very sad book. I go into a lot of these Newbery books without knowing anything about the plot. Tears were shed.

Willa Jo and her sister (Little Sister - if she has a different name, we are never told) are currently living with their Aunt Patty. Little Sister does not talk and we find out pretty quickly that she stopped talking when Baby (their baby sister) suddenly died. Patty took the girls to live with her for awhile because their mother was so steeped in grief
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Getting Near to Baby is such a wondeful stroy. As thee girls sit on the roof, Willa Jo refers back to recent memories about, Mom, Baby, Little Sister, Aunt Patty, and much more. One of my most favorite parts about this book is when Willa Jo remembers when she went to Bible School with Little Sister. They don't want to sit in the grass where the ticks are, so they sit on the church steps. Of course the teacher gets mad at them and Willa Jo and Little Sister refuse to sit back in the grass and the ...more
Thomas Bell
Aug 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery-honors
Pretty good book, though I did get annoyed by a few of the adults in the book. The thing is though, that they were supposed to be annoying. The author did a good job developing the different characters.

Two girls lose their baby sister, and as their mother has a hard time dealing with the situation their aunt Patty, the forceful outwardly-perfectionistic older sister of their mother, decides to take them in while the mom recovers. About 1/3 of the book takes place on Aunt Patty's roof. Much of th
Rated PG.

This is not one of those scintillating books. Really, if I could, I would rate it 3.5 stars. Actually, make that 3.4. So I'm going to round it to 3 stars.

Willa Jean and Little Sister - actually, the names are my first beef with the book. On the one hand, I can understand why Little Sister and Baby go unnamed for the majority of the book, but on the whole, I like reading about people with names. It just makes things more relatable.

That aside, this was a sad, contemplative book about a
Jan 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great construction of book with current setting and flashbacks. Most of the present takes place on the roof of Aunt Patty and Uncle Hob’s house. Love the characters -- even Aunt Patty

Willa Jo is hanging out on the roof pondering life. Little sister hasn’t talked since Baby Sister died and Mom is depressed. Willa Jo would rather be taking care of Mom, but Willa and Sister are stuck staying with Aunt Patty and Uncle Hob. Aunt Patty has more rules than shingles on the roof including thou shalt not
Nov 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Easy read...of course, it is juve. fiction, so that is why! Prose flows so nice that the chapters just fly by. It's about a pre-teen girl and her younger sister (who is temporarily mute) and their move to live with an aunt and uncle after their younger sister's death. Their mother is having a very difficult time coping with her youngest child's death, so aunt and uncle take in the two older girls for a time. Of course, both girls just want to be with their mother and see her happy again. But alo ...more
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Audrey is a recently transplanted (yet again) New Yorker (by choice), now in Bunker Hill, West Virginia (also by choice), where Civil War ghosts scare the dogs at night, where a CSX train track runs behind the house and the romantic sound of a faraway train can be heard three or four times a day, where she is starting a new garden of rambling roses and assorted deer-resistant flowering shrubs and ...more
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“Knowing that time is short is important. Knowing to make the best use of it you can, that's important. Letting those around you know you love them. Because you never know when you'll have to say good-bye.” 17 likes
“Grief stays with a person for a long time.” 3 likes
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