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Children's Fiction Siblings

Middle of Nowhere

by (author) Caroline Adderson

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Mar 2012
Siblings, Orphans & Foster Homes, Homelessness & Poverty
Recommended Age
9 to 12
Recommended Grade
4 to 7
Recommended Reading age
9 to 12
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2012
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2012
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2012
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.


Winner of the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize, shortlisted for the CLA Book of the Year for Children Award and the Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award, and selected as an OLA Best Bet for 2012

At first Curtis isn't that worried when his mother doesn't come home from her all-night job at the local gas bar. She'll be back, he's ten out of ten positive. After all, she promised she would never leave him again.

Besides, Curtis is used to looking after himself and his five-year-old brother, Artie, and for a time he manages things on his own, keeping their mother's absence a secret. He knows exactly what will happen if any of the teachers find out the truth. He remembers his last horrible foster home all too clearly.

Curtis gets pretty good at forging his mother's signature, but when the credit card maxes out and the landlord starts pressuring for the rent, it's more than a twelve-year-old can handle. Just in time, Curtis and Artie make friends with Mrs. Burt, the cranky, lonely old lady who lives across the street. And when the authorities start to investigate, the boys agree to go with Mrs. Burt to her remote cabin by the lake, and the three of them abscond in her 1957 Chevy Bel Air.

At the lake, the boys' days are filled with wood-chopping, outhouse-building, fishing, swimming and Mrs. Burt's wonderful cooking. But as the summer sails by, Curtis can't stop thinking about his mother's promise.

Then the weather grows colder, and Mrs. Burt seems to be preparing to spend the winter at the cabin, and Curtis starts to worry.

Have they really all just absconded to the lake for a summer holiday? Or have the two boys been kidnapped?

Set in Vancouver and the B.C. wilderness (the trip to the cabin involves a hilarious white-knuckled road trip through Hope), this is a book that reflects Caroline Adderson's many writerly strengths -- her "wit and a facility for dialogue, good pacing and a brisk, clean prose style" (Globe and Mail), her "close observation of telling details" (Quill & Quire) and her ability to "celebrate a child's imagination in a realistically humorous way" (Canadian Materials).

About the author

Caroline Adderson is the author of Very Serious Children (Scholastic 2007), a novel for middle readers about two brothers, the sons of clowns, who run away from the circus. I, Bruno (Orca 2007) and Bruno for Real are collections of stories for emergent readers featuring seven year-old Bruno and his true life adventures.
Caroline Adderson also writes for adults and has won two Ethel Wilson Fiction Prizes, three CBC Literary Awards, as well as the 2006 Marion Engel Award given annually to an outstanding female writer in mid-career. Her numerous nominations include the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist, the Governor General's Literary Award, the Rogers' Trust Fiction Prize and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Most recently, Caroline was the Vancouver Public Library's 2008 Writer-in-Residence.
Her eight year-old son Patrick and his many friends inspire her children's writing. Caroline and her family live in Vancouver, British Columbia.


Caroline Adderson's profile page


  • Short-listed, Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award
  • Short-listed, Chocolate Lily Young Readers' Choice Award
  • Short-listed, CLA Book of the Year for Children Award
  • Winner, Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize
  • Commended, OLA Best Bet

Editorial Reviews

Two-time Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize winner Caroline Adderson is that rare bird: a writer who brings to the middle-grade novel the artistry and respect it deserves . . .To write them requires a particular skill set, one that Adderson exhibits in spades.


The elements of a good story are present, but its telling lacks resonance, character development and depth of understanding.

Kirkus Book Reviews

Highly Recommended.

CM Magazine

Librarian Reviews

Middle of Nowhere

In Middle of Nowhere, 12-year-old Curtis finds himself abandoned when his mother fails to return from her shift work. It is not the first time Curtis’s mother has left him, but he believes that she will keep her promise to never leave him again. Capable beyond his years, Curtis cares for his five-year-old brother, Artie, until money and food run out. Help comes in the unlikely form of proud Mrs. Burt, who, like Curtis, needs help to remain independent. What begins as a barter of laundry and board for errand-running ends with the trio fleeing their fears (foster and old age homes) and holing up in a remote cabin. Although cabin life causes a positive transformation in Curtis and Mrs. Burt, and strengthens new familial bonds, practical needs eventually impinge. Mrs. Burt, however, is not as willing as Curtis to leave their Neverland.

This coming-of-age novel would be heartrending if not balanced by Curtis’s humorous observations of Artie’s behaviour. Curtis’s extraordinary empathy, attentiveness to his brother, courage and loyalty make him an appealing narrator. Although the novel wraps up a little abruptly, it is near perfect.

Adderson introduces readers to sensitive protagonists whose poetic moments linger after the books are read.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2012. Volume 35 No. 4.

Middle of Nowhere

When Curtis’s mom doesn’t come home from her all-night shift at the gas bar, he isn’t worried and he’s sure she’ll be back eventually. He’s pretty good at looking after himself and his little brother anyway and he’s sure they can manage on their own. The boys form an unlikely friendship with their cranky neighbour, Mrs. Burt, who tries to take care of and protect the boys.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Spring, 2012.

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