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Dorp Dead

Press: Random House Books for Young Readers; 1st Bullseye Books ed edition (August 31, 1993)
Publication Date:1993-8
ISBN:9780679847182
Author Name:Julia Cunningham
Language:English

Content

A young orphan is sent to live with an abusive guardian, an  eccentric ladder maker who is feared throughout the village. 
Reissue.
SLJ.

From the Inside Flap

A reissue of the novel that dramatically changed children?s literature in the 20th century.Julia Cunningham?s ground-breaking novel, first published in 1965 and unavailable in any edition for a decade, is reissued for a whole new generation of readers to call their own. 
?Here .
.
.
is the story of a boy who discovers himself, who basically comes to grips with that most contemporary of problems, the isolation of the individual.
It is told within the near-classic framework of the story of the orphan who survives and escapes maltreatment to find love, but it is told in frank, literate terms in the lingo of today?s youngsters.
And it has, as an additional dimension, a touch of the Gothic tale, a tinge of terror and a shade of romanticism.? (The New York Herald Tribune)

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Julia Cunningham is the author of Come to the Edge, winner of the Christopher Medal; The Flight of the Sparrow, a Boston Globe—Horn Book Honor Book; The Treasure Is the Rose, a National Book Award finalist; and the recent picture book, The Stable Rat and Other Christmas Poems.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

oneThis is the account that was found after it was all over. 
The very confused spelling has been corrected out of respect for the young writer, Gilly Ground.This story starts and middles and ends with me.
I guess I was always what is called different, or way out, or a little nuts.
Like me or not, that's how it is.
Oh, I look like any other eleven-year-old with a thatch of roughly cut brown hair, the correct number of fingers and toes, green eyes that can open or shut with sun or sleep, and a sort of overall foxy face, narrow at the chin.
But I have a secret that nobody, not my dead grandmother or Mrs.
Heister at the orphanage or my various unfortunate teachers, ever guessed.
I am ferociously intelligent for my age and at ten I hide this.
It is a weapon for defense as comforting as a very sharp knife worn between the skin and the shirt.
When a person hasn't money in the pocket, good leather to walk around in, clothes that are his own, and a home address to back him up, I figure he has to have something else--anything.
And I'm lucky.
I'm not just bright, I'm brilliant, the way the sun is at noon.
This is not a boast.
It's the truth.
It's my gold, my shelter, and my pride.
It's completely my possession and I save it like an old miser to spend later.
I purposely never learn to spell, which for the simple indicates stupidity.
I fall all over my tongue when I am asked to read in school, and when we have a test in arithmetic I dig in the wrong answers very hard with a soft pencil and then smudge them over with my thumb to make it look as though I had tried.I realize that I sound pretty unsavory, and maybe if my soft little grandmother had lived longer and I hadn't been thrown into the orphanage the day before I got to be ten I might have chosen to stand and shine.
She would have been proud of me and that would have given me a reason.
But she didn't and she died poor, so my story, as me, really starts over a year ago on a chill autumn night having a rather scrawny arm pinched by the thunderous Mrs.
Heister, superintendent of the village Home for Children.This big, overstuffed woman has nothing against me.
She doesn't know me that well.
But to her I am another bed, another hunger to feed, and maybe another contact for her switch, which in all justice to her, she only uses when forced to by a major rebellion.
She tells me there are no rules except cooperation, obedience, and attention to homework and then calls in a senior citizen of about fifteen, who leads me off like a small dog to a long, windowed room, points at a cot with red blankets, says "That's yours," and takes off.I see the other inmates are already settled on their pillows, though they are giving me the eye all the time I am undressing, which is slightly embarrassing as my pajamas are colorfully patched from all views.
One shrimpy guy across the aisle ventures a weak "Hello" and another voice from the corner region calls out, "You'll get used to it." But I reply to neither.
I am alone and on my own since my grandmother has been tucked away forever, and I intend to stay that way.
I bear no grudges toward the world.
I just figure I've a lot to learn and to sort out after I've learned it and it will be easier if I don't get too tangled up with people, or at least, not until I'm better acquainted with how people are.I insert myself between the covers and send a smile up to where my grandmother is--she always believed she was going to a better place where her house would have a kitchen as big as a barn, with tables and chairs and paintings of flowers on the walls, and if her new country is well organized, I'm certain she has all these things.
This seems to warm the damp sheets and I fall into sleep like a ripe apple leaves the branch.I wake up the next morning, as I will wake up all the next three hundred and sixty-five mornings until the changes come, to a series of bongs that bounce off my eardrums and then ring an extra time in my skull.
I shake my head like trying to get water out of the ears and look around.
The rest of them are already up and out and racing for the bathrooms next door.
I lie quiet for a couple of minutes, a habit I adopt then and for good, to let the first line-up thin out, then I shovel myself out of bed, walk to the nearest unoccupied basin, douse my pointy face once, draw a brush rapidly over my front teeth, take a couple of swipes at my hair, and return to my clothes, which are no problem, being so basic: underwear, shorts, tee shirt, and sweater.
My socks and shoes take an extra thirty seconds, as I am inclined to get dreamy over putting them on.
If I am ever rich--I assume a cynical grin at my own foolishness--I will use up at least ten minutes on socks.
This is the time my best thinking is done, so why waste it?I observe the next step is to make beds, so I stretch my blanket tight over the under-rumple of sheets, smooth my pillow, and then follow the other guys outdoors and into a low, one-story building that, on entering, smells of old grease and new bread.
We line up and with a maximum of clatter each take a metal tray, dented by generations of orphans, and shuffle forward slowly to where the cook, a man as skinny as his soups, slaps a heavy bowl of oatmeal on each one, contributing another dent.
Later I make an enemy of this man by being nervous and accidentally letting the bowl slide onto the floor.
And oatmeal, when slushed under many feet, is no pleasure to scrub up.
So from then on, after we have helped ourselves to three chunks of bread and one square of butter and he is now stationed at the end of the counter pitchering out milk, he fixes me with a ration of milk one inch short of the brim of the glass.
He also looks as if he'd like to plop a cockroach into the liquid, but never does.
I rule him out as a person after this, though I've peeled many a peck of potatoes in his dour company.After breakfast we get ten minutes to ourselves and then we are ticked off for Special Duties: sweeping, washing dishes from yesterday, shelving groceries, chopping wood for the three fireplaces, and all the other jobs needed to keep extreme dilapidation from becoming ruins.I wasn't too bored by a series of experiments at washing dishes without soap until Mrs.
Heister, on her daily Reviewing the Troops Inspection, caught me out, at which point I was put on the woodpile for two weeks.
But mostly I just slog through without much conversation with my fellow workers, an attitude that crowns me with the nickname "Snobby Gilly." I don't mind this at all.
It gives me privacy.Next we have exercises and I wise up very soon that the last line is the best.
Here I can bounce to the rhythms, fling my arms skyward when the other arms are doing the same, and generally not strain myself.
These back-border positions are very popular and a couple of times I have to fight to keep mine, but I'm pretty tough in the muscles, thanks to having pushed a few thousand cartfuls of laundry up and down the streets of the village for my grandmother and sometimes helping her with the heavy ironing nights when her back ached so badly I'd catch tears in her eyes.Then, from nine to one, school.
There isn't much more to report about these long, stringy mornings, at least not my part in them, which, as I have mentioned earlier, is mostly taken up with stuttering through the readers, smearing tests with wrong answers, and gazing blank-eyed out of the windows, all so as to cement the impression that I'm stupid.I glide through the boredom of these mornings with tolerance toward all except one thing--the terrible bonging bells that Mrs.
Heister's got a passion for.
Sometimes I try to create enough silence in my head so I can fold myself up in it as in a giant quilt, but this never really works.
The whole day, from the bell that shocks me out of bed, that begins the continuous noise of the other guys talking and yelling, until the final whispering from bed to bed at night, seems like one huge tumult to my insides and sometimes I wish so fiercely to be free of it that I discover my teeth are grinding together like two sets of electric saws.But there is a good hour.
It arrives after lunch-with-leftovers, after the following study hall.
We are instructed in this free period to go no farther than the village and back, but I know a place on a mountain I can get to, if I run both ways, where quiet lives and makes me welcome.
There, in the center of a tall stand of pines, is a very ancient, very crumbly ruin of a tower.
There are no signs or marks to tell its age and it is open to the sky.
It has only five high steps inside that once wound to the top, and until I cleaned it up it was crammed with rubble and fallen fragments of its own stones.
Nobody comes but me because the pathway is now so thick with thorn bushes and underbrush it's more like a tunnel than a trail, and this is my kingdom and my home.
I see nobody.
Well, it was nobody until one strange day when I was already eleven and the Hunter appeared.
But I'm leapfrogging ahead of what happened.In these days of my being ten, I sit on the small throne I construct by stacking four squared stones in the shape of one and gaze out through a jagged gap into a distance of river and hills and changing clouds, and let the peace gather itself up in me like the bunches of wild violets and cyclamen I used to pick for my grandmother on Sundays.
Sometimes I am late getting back to the misery of the bells and Mrs.
Heister sets me to weeding crabgrass with a rusty trowel that leaves stains like blood on my fingers.
She never knows I rather take to this punishment because I am always careful to look sullen when she thrusts the trowel at me.
I pretend the stubborn underground streamers are enemies and root up their tough, resisting menace like a knight unhorsing his foes, one by one, at some glittering, bannered tournament.Then the bell bongs for recreation.
This hour and a half before supper usually signals my limit for the absorption of clamor, so once the teams are chosen and the game begins, I stuff two grubby wads of ...

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Tags

Children's Books,Science Fiction & Fantasy,Fantasy & Magic

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Comment List (Total:14)

  •     Absolutely creepy book! Go for the earliest edition, it has more illustrations.Great kid's book!

  •     There was no way out! There was a boy named Gilly Ground. He was an 11 year old boy. He was abandoned. He also found out that his grandmother had died.

  •     When I was in I believe the sixth grade the teacher begin reading this gripping, fascinating book to the class.We all enjoyed it and looked forward to each day's reading.Then about halfway through the book the teacher sadly explained that there would be no more "Dorp Dead" as one of the parents had complained it was "too weird". My first experience with censorship!To make things worse, the same parent had demanded that the book be removed from the school library, so we couldn't finish it on our own.This was in 1971.I forgot about " Drop Dead" for many years until I was visiting a friend and saw her son just finishing the book.He was impressed! Suddenly I was gripped with a desire to know how the book had ended and asked to borrow the book. I'm glad I did.Anything this original and intriguing should not be yanked from readers by the whining of one parent, or a committee of them.I still resent that I was not allowed to experience the book at a time when it would have been more age appropriate and could have been truly enjoyed and discussed along with my peers.

  •     There was no way out! There was a boy named Gilly Ground. He was an 11 year old boy. He was abandoned. He also found out that his grandmother had died.

  •     Ugh! My overbearing / unkind 5th grade teacher insisted on reading this horrible book to the class. I hated it and, thankfully, hadn't thought about it in years.

  •     The appearance of this classic story in a new hardcover edition promises to appeal to new audiences. Gilly is a ten-year-old orphan who plays dumb in order to hide secrets.

  •     I remember this title from the sixth grade, living in Riverside California. Our sixth grad teacher, Mrs. Robb read it to us. I remember be thrilled with the story then.

  •     i read this book many years ago, as a child. it was gripping and stayed in my mind, forever. i liked the protagonist!i was exstatic to see that i could buy it for my own collection!

  •     Gilly Ground lives a dreary life in an orphanage, until one day,he is sent to live with the mysterious laddermaker Mr. Kobalt. But when Gilly learns his master's plans for him,he knows he must escape from this strange man.DORP DEAD takes place in a fascinating world,deftly blending realilism with surreality. The book's setting is reffered to as ''the village'',(yes,this was written before the M.Night Shamalan film) and is impossible to describe as either fantasy or fiction.This is a fastpaced,chilling read that would make a perfect read-a-loud for Halloween. Highly recommended.RATING:A

  •     I read this book first when i was tweleve and it is by far one of my favorite books. It is definetly geared at young adults, but it also tends to be very dark. The premise is a young boy who is incredibly brilliant but hides his talents. He lives in an oprhange near a secret tower which he uses as his secure castle. He becomes adopted by a man inprisoned by his orderly attitude and lack of affection. Their are many twists in the book which makes you keep reading. The greatest part of the book though are the charecters which could be seen as weak, such as a simple hunter who carries an unloaded gun. this man is a metaphor for Gilly, the young boy, himself. He has potential and protection with his talents but keeps them to himself, which is as useless as an unloaded gun. This is again, an excellant book with deep metaphors and morals

  •     I read Julia Cunningham’s classic 45 years ago and never forgot this slim, atmospheric book or its unique title. I bought the book for a reluctant reader, who has loved it — and persuaded others to read it, as well. So I decided on a re-read these many decades later.Dorp Dead remains just as interesting, just as mysterious, just as chilling as it was when it was first released. And it has inspired me to seek out other Cunningham novels, including her National Book Award finalistThe Treasure Is the Rose. A quick and riveting read that’s highly, highly recommended for readers of any age.

  •     Dorp Dead was well known and considered controversial when it was published in the mid 60's. This beautifully written, slim volume is set in a mysterious, surreal world and like many children's stories features a young orphan as the protagonist. This boy, Gilly, is apprenticed to a very strange, solitary man who wants to trap Gilly in his own carefully ordered world. Gilly ultimately escapes the "caged" world of his master and finds his own way but not without some scenes of suspense and horror. The creepy tone of the book is somewhat relieved by the book's "happy ending." The title of the book becomes clear with it's closing words.

  •     At age 11, this was the very last book I read from the "children's" library. Scary and compelling story. Fantastic illistrations, and not too childish for a someone soon to move on to adult fiction (or I guess now-a-days its called Young Adult Fiction). Dorp Dead is about a boy who is not perfect. For one thing, he can't even spell "drop" and so scribbles "dorp dead" as an insult. A hero who can't spell? That's what facinated me about this book when if first read it in its first printing (about 1966). At the time I read it, I was a very poor reader and speller: Dyslexia hadn't been "invented" yet and I had been simply labeled as "slow". But secretly I loved to read (which I could only do privately by running my finger along the lines of the page... something my teachers forbid). So I related to the lonely boy who was considered stupid and not worth the trouble. I recommend this for what appear to be "slow" children. Perhaps they are not so slow after all and may someday make their livings by writing professionally, as I have been fortunate to do. (So you see, this is not only a review, but also a sincere thank you note to the author.)

  •     gothic horror meets up powerfully with the contemporary foster-child narrative. the youthful protagonist is too old to expect adoption, but finds it anyway, and is surprised to...

 

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