Cover image for Visiting Miss Caples
Visiting Miss Caples
Kimmel, Elizabeth Cody.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dial Books, [2000]

Physical Description:
168 pages ; 22 cm
The elderly shut-in she visits once a week becomes an unexpected source of friendship and strength for thirteen-year-old Jenna, and they help each other face and overcome painful aspects of their lives.
Reading Level:
640 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.6 5.0 41488.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 4.5 10 Quiz: 22878 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Did you ever have the feeling that your life had taken some kind of a turn -- and you weren't even sure exactly how it happened?At first our routine consisted of her staring at the rug while I read aloud. But today, something happened. Maybe it wouldn't have if I hadn't run out of things to read, and ended up talking about how shaky things had gotten between me and my best friend, Liv. And how once again my dad wasn't actually at his office working late like he said he was.All I know is that today she started to talk -- mostly about this girl, a friend once worshipped and then lost, a person she described as "dangerous".So we're not exactly friends, Miss Caples and me, but we did make this connection. And I feel like it's about to take us into, I don't know, some unforeseeable territory -- and that I'm not the,only one who's excited about, and a little afraid of, what we might discover.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-9. It's a year of seismic change for 13-year-old Jenna. Her father leaves home, and Liv, her gorgeous, popular best friend, ostracizes her when Jenna refuses to carry out a cruel prank. A class assignment brings Jenna to Mrs. Caples, an elderly shut-in, and a believable cross-generational friendship develops as Jenna relates her troubles to Mrs. Caples, who responds with stories from her own history that mirror Jenna's experiences: she, too, had a beautiful, "dangerous" friend who asked her to do things she still regrets. The subplots come together at the end, with Jenna, her mother, and Mrs. Caples finding strength and an expanded sense of self in one another's stories. Although Jenna's voice seems too mature at times (would a 13-year-old, hugging her mother, really remark on "the quiet intimacy of the embrace" ?), Kimmel ably articulates a young person's experience on both sides of the "in" peer circle as well as her anxieties about the elderly, the complexities of friendship, and beauty as a valuable currency. Young readers coping with difficult changes at school and at home will respond to this thoughtful story. --Gillian Engberg

Publisher's Weekly Review

While Kimmel's new novel does not have quite the draw of the layered mystery of her debut (In the Stone Circle), she adds a few innovative twists to the age-old conflict between winning popularity and doing the right thing. Eighth-grader narrator Jen has been best friends with Liv since they were small children, but ever since Liv has "clearly established herself as the leader" of middle school, Jen has been playing the role of her follower. Liv goes one step too far when she asks Jen to play a cruel trick on an unpopular girl at school. When Jen refuses, Liv turns all the girls in their crowd against her. The sting of rejection hits Jen at a time when she is plagued by other worries: her parents' impending divorce and her struggles with a school project (reading to an elderly shut-in, Miss Caples, once a week). After making a few feeble attempts at sharing segments of the Reader's Digest with Miss Caples, Jen opens up to her about her problems and, predictably, is rewarded with a great deal of understanding and sympathy. Unfortunately, the intermittent chapters that chronicle Miss Caples's thoughts seem less realistic, with a prevailing angry tone. As Jen's bond with Miss Caples strengthens, so does the teen's relationship with her mother and the unpopular girl at school, whom Liv has been tormenting. If the end of the story is pat, Jen's inner growth is convincing. Drawing a parallel between Miss Caples's past woes and Jen's current angst, the author conveys the universality of growing pains while promoting intergenerational communication. Ages 10-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-8-Reading to the silent, elderly Miss Caples for a school service project is not 13-year-old Jenna's idea of fun. It doesn't help that her parents' marriage is breaking up or that her best friend, the beautiful and ever popular Liv, callously urges her to drop the weekly visits. Nearly giving up on communicating with the old woman, Jenna wanders from her reading to comment on the fading photographs on the walls and shares her discomfort with Liv's cruelty toward the "nerds" at school and her expectations that Jenna follow suit. Sensing a chance to prevent a tragedy such as she herself caused many years ago, the icy Miss Caples thaws enough to share the regret of her lifetime. Displaying the same skillful use of first-person narration as she did in In the Stone Circle (Scholastic, 1998), Kimmel handles contemporary dialogue and the teen-clique scene well. Although there is a whiff of melodrama (a sensitive female is driven to the insane asylum and a box of long-hidden love letters come to light) and more than a dose of coincidence in the denouement, readers will strongly identify with the contemporary school setting and the playing out of a complicated friendship. Kimmel's message that integrity and kindness are more important than popularity is a good one.-Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.