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Where I'd Like To Be

Where I'd Like To Be

For Ages: 10 - 14
  • reading group guide
  • 4awards
A ghost saved twelve-year-old Maddie's life when she was an infant, her Granny Lane claims, so Maddie must always remember that she is special. But it's hard to feel special when you've spent your life shuffled from one foster home to another. And now that she's at the East Tennessee Children's Home, Maddie feels even less special.
She longs for a place to call home. She even has a "book of houses" in which she glues pictures of places she'd like to live. Then one day, a new girl, Murphy, shows up at the Home armed with tales about exotic travels, being able tot fly, and boys who recite poetry to wild horses. When Murphy offers Maddie something she has never had before, Maddie begins to wonder if she has finally found someone who feels like home.
Choose a format:
  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780689870675 | 
  • September 2004 | 
  • Grades 5 - 9
List Price $7.99

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

When I was just a baby, a ghost saved my life. This is according to my Granny Lane, who I lived with at the time in a trailer on Roan Mountain.

Hurry, now, hurry, that baby is smothering, the shivery voice whispered into Granny Lane's ear. She popped open her eyes to find an old man dressed in overalls and smelling of black-licorice gum standing next to her bed.

Granny Lane was up and running so fast she didn't have time to be scared. She raced to my crib in the corner of the living room, and sure enough, I was all tangled in a knot of blankets and couldn't breathe. After Granny Lane got me loose, she crept back to... see more


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Reading Group Guide

Maddie lives in the East Tennessee Children's Home. Ricky Ray, age six, is her special friend. Then Murphy, a new girl, comes to the home telling wonderful stories about her previous life. Maddie doesn't know whether to believe them but enjoys them anyway. Maddie makes scrapbooks of houses, houses cut from magazines, houses where she'd like to live. The children build a fort with the help and in the yard of Logan, who has a home and a family. The children make scrapbooks and weave stories about how they would like their lives to be.
Adoption; Orphans and foster children; Friendship; Imagination.
• Why do you think Murphy tells such stories about herself?
• Do you think Penny Korda will adopt Maddie and Ricky?
• Why did Maddie bury the books? What was the symbolism?
• Maddie was judging the other children by her first impressions. Why can that sometimes be wrong?
• How did Logan's mother change during the story?
• Start a scrapbook of your favorite things -- faces, clothes, toys, etc.
• Draw a map of what you think the fort looks like. Where are the doors, windows, and furniture?
• Maddie collects pictures of houses to decide which one she wants for herself. What would your ideal home be like? Draw a picture or write a description.
• Read some other books about foster children, such see more

About the Author

Frances O'Roark Dowell
Photograph (c) Clifton Dowell

Frances O'Roark Dowell

Frances O’Roark Dowell is the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of Dovey Coe, which won the Edgar Award and the William Allen White Award; Where I’d Like to Be; the bestselling The Secret Language of Girls and its sequels The Kind of Friends We Used to Be and The Sound of Your Voice, Only Really Far Away; Chicken Boy; Shooting the Moon, which was awarded the Christopher Medal; the Phineas L. MacGuire series; Falling In; the critically acclaimed The Second Life of Abigail Walker; Anybody Shining; and the teen novel Ten Miles Past Normal. She lives with her husband and two sons in Durham, North Carolina. Connect with Frances online at




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