Cover image for A corner of white
A corner of white

1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013.
Physical Description:
373 p. ; 22 cm.
Reading Level:
800 L Lexile
Fourteen-year-old Madeleine of Cambridge, England, struggling to cope with poverty and her mother's illness, and fifteen-year-old Elliot of the Kingdom of Cello in a parallel world where colors are villainous and his father is missing, begin exchanging notes through a crack between their worlds and find they can be of great help to each other.


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The first in a rousing, funny, genre-busting trilogy from bestseller Jaclyn Moriarty!

This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world).

Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot's dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth.

As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds -- through an accidental gap that hasn't appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called "color storms;" a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the "Butterfly Child," whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses...

Author Notes

Jaclyn Moriarty is the prize-winning, best-selling author of novels for young adults and adults including Feeling Sorry for Celia and The Year of Secret Assignments. Jaclyn grew up in Sydney, lived in England, the US, and Canada, and now lives in Sydney again. She was born in 1968 in Perth and studied English and Law at the University of Sydney. She then completed a Masters in Law at Yale University and a PhD at Gonville Caius College, Cambridge. She worked asan entertainment an dmedia lawyer before becoming a full-time writer.

The Asbury Brookfield Series is four novels that revolve around various student that attend the exclusive private school, Asbury High. Many of the students cross over into more than one novel. The series includes: Feeling Sorry for Celia, Finding Cassie Crazy, The Betrayal of Bindy Mackenzie, and Dreaming of Amelia. Her title The Cracks in the Kingdom won the Aurealis Award in 2014 for Young Adult Novel. It also won the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People¿s Literature.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Two worlds coexist in this fascinating first book in Moriarty's Colors of Madeleine series. Bright, enigmatic 14-year-old Madeleine has moved to Cambridge, England, with her mother, where she receives home schooling from a small group of eccentric teachers, along with friends Jack and Belle. Madeleine accidentally makes contact with the fantastical Kingdom of Cello when she discovers a message poking out of a broken parking meter. She begins a written correspondence with 15-year-old Elliott, a boy living in the Cellian farming town of Bonfire, where Colors, "a kind of rogue subclass of the colors that we see," are known to attack and kill (Elliott's father was the alleged victim of a "Purple"), and the arrival of the fabled "Butterfly Child" is an auspicious sign. As the narrative alternates between Cello and Cambridge, some readers may be frustrated by the slow unfolding of events, yet moments of sharp observation, startling invention, and delightfully comic dialogue confirm Moriarty as a genre-bending author who gracefully weaves metaphysical questions into outwardly ordinary circumstances. Ages 12-up. Agent: Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Australian author Moriarty, best known for her Ashbury-Brookfield series (including The Year of Secret Assignments, rev. 3/04, and The Ghosts of Ashbury High, rev. 7/10), here embarks on a new series and a new genre. Fourteen-year-old Madeleine has moved to Cambridge, England, with her mother; they've run away (somewhat mysteriously) from Madeleine's father and a life of extreme wealth. Fifteen-year-old Elliot Baranski lives in the Kingdom of Cello, where Colors are living organisms that can kill people, where seasons change at the drop of a hat, and where "Wandering Hostiles" want to overthrow the royal family. People stopped moving between Cello and Madeleine's world hundreds of years ago, but Elliot has found a tiny "crack" between the two places and has begun a correspondence with Madeleine. While Elliot learned about Madeleine's world in school, she thinks Cello is an imaginary land he's invented. Moriarty is the queen of epistolary stories, and her fans will find the teens' letters a familiar entree into this highly unusual fantasy. Like Madeleine, readers will be initially baffled by, but will ultimately believe in, Elliot's world. Moriarty's story comes across as matter-of-fact yet curious, topped off with a strong dose of humor (think Margaret Mahy). As always, her irresistible characters help readers navigate a tantalizingly complex plot that will leave them eagerly awaiting the next book. jennifer m. brabander (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Australian writer Moriarty's marvelously original fantasy is quirky and clever, exploring links between present-day Cambridge, England, and the Kingdom of Cello, where colors attack, seasons roam unpredictably, and the Butterfly Child can save a community. Fourteen-year-old homeschooled Madeleine lives with her mother in an attic flat in Cambridge, adjusting to near poverty after they ran from a fabulously wealthy jet-setting life with Madeleine's emotionally distant father. Meanwhile, 15-year-old Elliot is trying to find his father, whose suspicious disappearance has sparked rumors and more in their farming community. Elliot and Madeleine meet when Elliot puts a letter into a crack in a concrete sculpture Madeleine sees the corner of white peeking out from the foot of a parking meter. Their correspondence provides rich character development in a plot with a dizzying number of developments. Moriarty captures the proud iconoclasm of many homeschoolers and does not shy away from tenderness and poignancy as both Madeleine and Elliot confront difficult family truths. Expect readers to flock to Moriarty's name and stay for the whole (projected) Colors of Madeleine trilogy. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Moriarty (The Year of Secret Assignments, 2004) is hugely popular and demand for her latest should be high.--Carton, Debbie Copyright 2010 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-In this lovely fantasy, two stories run parallel. Fourteen-year-old Madeleine lives in Cambridge, England, where she is adjusting to life without her dad. Elliot lives in the Kingdom of Cello, where his search for his dad is postponed by the deplorable state of crops at home. If it were not for the tiny portal in a parking meter, Madeleine and Elliot would not have started writing letters back and forth. The story is told through the teens' communications and an omniscient narrator. This mix allows readers to know Madeleine and Elliot and their problems intimately, but it also gives them an aerial view of events, helps them meet the richly drawn secondary characters, and allows them to see the ingenious way in which the protagonists' lives ultimately combine. Attacks by "Colors," "living organisms: a kind of rogue subclass of the colors that we see when we look at a red apple or blue sky" keep the townspeople on edge, and Elliot wonders if his dad were killed during one of them. Mysteries abound. Is Madeleine's mom's strange behavior due to her inability to cope with poverty, or is something else going on? Why doesn't Madeleine's dad answer her letter, and is she somehow to blame for his absence? Ultimately, this is a story of two teenagers helping each other figure out their places in their respective worlds.-Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Libraries, NC (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Another one of a kind from the inimitable Moriarty, this time, a barely epistolary fantasy series opener unlike anything else out there. Fourteen-year-old Madeleine lives in Cambridge, England, with her zany mother in uncertain circumstances, having run away from their fabulously privileged international existence. Meanwhile, Elliot lives in Bonfire, The Farms, Cello, a parallel reality that might be the real fairyland (although that's never explicitly stated, and this version seems utterly unlike most versions of fairyland). Through a crack between their worlds, they begin exchanging letters, although more of the novel is about one or the other of these two appealing characters than about their moments of intersection. Elliot wants to find his father, who disappeared mysteriously, while Madeleine wants to be found by hers and is also navigating friendship and her mother's deteriorating health. Moriarty's trademark wit and whimsy are on full display, with zingy dialogue that feels right if not entirely realistic and bizarre characters living unexpected lives that manage to be mundane and delightful at the same time. By the end, Madeleine's story feels somewhat resolved, but Elliot's has turned an unexpected corner that will bring their worlds much closer and bring readers more mystery and humor in the next volume. Quirky, charming, funny, sad: another winner from this always-surprising author. (Fantasy. 12 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.



From THE COLORS OF MADELEINE #1: A CORNER OF WHITE She leaned her bike against a wall and saw it again -- that fine line of white along the seam of the parking meter. She tried to pull it out with her fingertips but it was too deeply embedded. By holding two fingernails, one above and one below, she managed to grasp the edge of the paper and slowly draw it out. It was a thin piece of paper, folded in half. She unfolded it and read: Help me! I am being held against my will! She laughed aloud, looking at the base of the parking meter: the split concrete. "You're trying to escape," she said, then glanced around to check that nobody had seen her talking to a parking meter. The street was empty. It was growing dark, everything turning shades of grey. The paper in the palm of her hand made her shudder suddenly. I am being held against my will! What if it was real? A message from a stranger who was trapped? Strange place to put it, though, she thought, and smiled again. I am being held against my will. On the darkening path, she took paper from her backpack, and she wrote a reply to the note. She folded it and slid it into the parking meter until it too was nothing but a fine white line. Then she rode away. Excerpted from A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.