From Publishers Weekly
Moore (Under the Mermaid Angel) revisits the trailer-home milieu of previous books in this sensitive novel. It's little wonder that Matchit McCarty, the 11-year-old narrator, tells himself, "Everything you touch messes up.... Don't you know you're the bad-luck boy?" His mother abandoned him years ago. He does poorly at school, and his feckless father seems more interested in his new girlfriend, Jewel, who works at a roller-skating rink, than in his son. When Matchit's father takes Jewel to Mount Rushmore, he dumps Matchit in a junkyard to be tended by its owner, cigar-smoking Babe (the father hasn't seen her in 10 years and hasn't made arrangements ahead of time but, he says, she owes him a favor). Ironically, Babe turns out to be more of a gem than self-centered Jewel. Along with her friends Zebby, who sculpts with car parts and lives in a school bus, and Sister the taxidermist (who occasions lines like "We're down at Sister's sorting eyeballs") Babe makes Matchit feel like family. Most importantly, she believes Matchit is "gifted and talented," not "slow and dumb." Matchit's confidence slowly grows, as he saves a pigeon's life, converts an old van into his own "private place," learns to ride a bike and persuades Zebby to persevere with his art. With its offbeat setting and upbeat moral, this story sends a reassuring reminder to young readers that everyone does matter. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7-In this coming-of-age story of a child struggling to prove his self-reliance, the young protagonist faces a summer among strangers as his dad deserts him to follow a personal dream. Matchit's life has been placed on "layaway." Sent to stay with an old acquaintance of his father, the almost 12-year-old waits for him to come back, remembering that years ago, his mother left and never returned. What the boy is lacking in his family, he finds in his new guardian, Babe, an eccentric, nurturing woman with a courageous heart of gold and a copy of How to Raise a Kid in Ten Easy Lessons. "I've never been a parent, but sure do want to try." Her junkyard home reflects the confusion of Matchit's past life and his innermost thoughts and fears. Dialogue echoes the customs, mannerisms, and simplicity befitting residents of a small rural town in Texas. In this story that is reminiscent of Under the Mermaid Angel (Delacorte, 1995), Moore has once again uncovered the possibilities of loving relationships in unlikely places.Mary Elam, Forman Elementary School, Plano, TX
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.