Janet Taylor Lisle
Quicksand Pond

“No one needed a hidden, half-forgotten pond more than Jessie that summer, and right from the beginning—their first day on the raft—Terri Carr seemed the perfect person to show it to her.

“See that house? Terri pointed across the water to where a vast and elegant roof rose up through bushes on shore. She said years ago some men had gone in at night and killed the owners, a husband and wife.

“They shot them dead while their little girl was sleeping upstairs.”

Jessie was shocked. “How terrible!”

“She still lives here.”


“The girl.  In that same house. She’s an old woman now.”

Within minutes of her arrival at their rented summer cottage, Jessie Kettel, 12, discovers an old raft bobbing in the pond. It’s waterlogged, in need of repair. Enter Terri Carr, who knows all about carpentry and also about a murder that happened on the pond many years ago. As the girls begin to repair the raft, Jessie is sucked deeper into Terri’s outcast life. Did she shoplift from the CVS in town? Did she steal a laptop from the Kettel’s cottage? And who is the strange old woman who watches them through binoculars from her mansion above the pond?
Booklist, starred review:
“Deftly navigating a diverse array of socioeconomic statuses and the discriminatory nature of the justice system, Lisle crafts a stirring story that raises crucial questions about the assumptions we make, the distances we keep, and the vulnerable voices we often fail to hear. Striking, enigmatic and haunting all around.”

Kirkus, starred review:
“A suspenseful, realistic, finely crafted story exploring friendship, trust and how we judge others.”

School Library Journal:
“This complex tale is aptly bittersweet and invites reflection about justice, judgment and loyalty…The author’s writing, as always, is filled with rich imagery and atmospheric descriptions.”

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:
“A tale of how one summer, one person, or one event can forever change the direction of a life.”

Awards and Honors
ALA/ALSC 2018 Notable Book
Junior Library Guild selection, 2017
Kirkus Review Best Children's Book of 2017
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Quicksand Pond
Atheneum, May 2017
ages 10 and up
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Quicksand Pond
What's Fiction? What's Real?
Click on the image above to read more.
If you love cats and ponds, read the original short story that inspired the setting for Quicksand Pond.
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Janet Taylor Lisle
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