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Small White Scar, A Hardcover – August 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 790L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Mark Twain Nominees 2008-2009
  • Hardcover: 180 pages
  • Publisher: HarperColl; First Edition edition (August 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006075639X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060756390
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,364,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5-8–Since the death of their mother seven years earlier, Will, 15, has been responsible for his disabled twin. His desire to help on his father's ranch, ride off to the rodeo, prove himself as a man, and escape being his brother's caregiver is the pivot of the plot; the fact that Denny follows him, showing himself to be just as tenacious and stubborn as Will, drives the plot to another level. The unique bond shared by the boys is aptly described. Will is repelled by Denny and his needs, but he is also fiercely protective of him. He does get to the rodeo, and the description of his rides is exciting and realistic, bringing the arena to life. In the end, Will finally has a chance to talk to his father. Not all problems are resolved, but Nuzum leaves readers with the hope that both Will and Denny will be able to begin their lives as adults relatively unhampered by the past. The images of the stark 1940s Colorado countryside suffering from drought, and the wild animals that populate it, are clearly drawn with poetic turns of phrase. Characters, plot, and theme all combine to make a compelling story. Although Will is the narrator, readers also hear the voice of Denny through dialogue and through Will's projections of his brother's thoughts. Nuzum clearly knows her rodeo and she knows how to evoke a teen's ambivalent feelings toward a disabled sibling. A thoughtful, perceptive story, beautifully told.–Wendy Smith-D'Arezzo, Loyola College, Baltimore, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 6-9. Since his mother's death, Will's job has been to look after his twin brother, Denny, who has Down syndrome. Their father's word is law on the ranch, and 15-year-old Will knuckles under as the story begins. But he soon devises an escape plan that leads toward the rodeo, and beyond, to spending his days as a cowboy without the responsibility of watching his brother. When Denny follows Will across the plains, that plan takes an unexpected twist, leading Will to confront the people he loves and hates most and forcing changes in all their lives. Set in Colorado in 1940, the novel transports readers to a vividly realized setting as the boys move across the country on horseback and encounter hazards from a poisonous snake to a swollen river. But external dangers are not the engine driving the plot. Will's frustration, determination, and flashes of anger give the story its momentum as he struggles to emerge from his childhood and finds no clear path toward becoming an adult. Part family tale, part adventure, part journey narrative, this coming-of-age story has an emotional core that will touch even readers who never dreamed of competing in a rodeo. An unusually fine first novel. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on January 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The summer of 1940 promises to be a dry one as a drought drags through Colorado. The lakes quickly shrink down to mud holes and the grass grows scarcer everyday, a definite danger to the Bennon cattle ranch. Fifteen-year-old Will Bennon could be a big help to his father; he has the skills and talents of an adult ranch hand. But his father insists on holding him back, hindering Will by forcing him to keep a constant eye on his twin brother, Denny.

Even though Will and Denny are twins, sharing a birthday is one of the few things they have in common. Denny has Down's syndrome; he can't read, can barely put on his shoes correctly, and needs almost constant supervision. Despite these obstacles, Denny can do many things. He collects the eggs from the hen house everyday, counting them as he goes. He can ride his horse, Scooty, though he often falls when dismounting. And he is always ready with a big smile to share.

But ever since they were born, and even more so after their mother accidentally drowned, Will has been weighed down with his brother's care. Will rather would be out helping his father with the ranch, using his riding and roping skills that he has practiced so diligently to be considered the man he wants to become. But his dad refuses to listen.

Believing his father will never allow him to be a man, Will takes his dreams a step further on his own. He must leave the Bennon Ranch. First, he will prove his ranching skills by entering La Junta Rodeo. There is big money to be made in the calf-roping and bull-riding events, more than Will could make in a whole year. Then he'd sign on with one of the other ranches, whichever one offers to pay the most after witnessing his talents at the rodeo. That would tide him over until the following rodeo season.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Cowboys are cool. They always have been and they always will be. It's just a fact of life, really. Like pirates, they capture the childish imagination (though we've yet to host an International Talk Like a Cowboy Day as of yet). Who wouldn't want to be able to say they could rope a buck, tame a steer, or ride a bull? It's kind of funny, then, that there aren't that many cowboy books out there for kids. You get the regular smattering of picture books, of course, and there's usually at least one non-fiction title published every year for the true fans. Chapter books, however, are less common than you might think. Thanks goodness for "A Small White Scar", then, eh? Part cowboy drama, part tale of brotherly love and hate, first-time novelist (and east Colorado native) K.A. Nazum gives this book her all. It's a nice voice and a nice book and I think that that's all there is to say about that.

1940. Colorado. The Bennon Cattle Company. Mesa de Maya. It's the only place Will Bennon has ever called his home and if he doesn't get out of there as fast as humanly possible he's going to burst into two. For fifteen years Will has grown up alongside his twin brother Denny and for the last seven he's had to "play nursemaid". Denny was born, as they say on the farm, "simple", but his devotion to Will knows no bounds. It shouldn't come as a surprise then that when Will lits out to rope some fame and fortune at a rodeo in La Junta, Denny follows with inescapable tenacity. Will's fighting his desire to escape Denny at whatever the cost and to help his brother as he's done all his life. To his mind it comes down to this: If he stays on the ranch he'll go stir-crazy and never make a name for himself. But does that mean hurting the person who loves him best in the whole wide world?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Sack VINE VOICE on July 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Will and Denny are twin brothers and alike in many ways. They share the same birthday but Denny is developmentally delayed. They live and work on a ranch. Their mother died when the boys were young. It seems to Will that his father expects him to just look after Denny and never allows him to do really work on the ranch. Will decides to run off and join the rodeo. A twist of events happens when Denny follows Will.
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By Carol Baldwin on February 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If boys can keep reading beyond the first few chapters which tell the back story of "A Small White Scar", they will find rattlesnake bites, a dangerous flash flood, and a rodeo that is so real you can hear the calves bawling in their pens. Boys who like action from the first paragraph will have to wait for the story to unfold. But, it's worth it. Readers will identify with Will, the 15-year-old protagonist who itches to carve a life out for himself separate from Denny, his mentally retarded twin brother. Both characters are well developed; Will's anger is consistent with his life experiences and Denny's thoughtful yet child-like responses are consistent with a person who has Down Syndrome.
My favorite line is towards the end of the book when their father reveals that although Will sees himself as Denny's surrogate parent, Denny is the one who has taught Will about self-sacrifice, responsibility, and love. K.A. Nuzum uses beautiful figurative language to describe Colorado in the 1940's; teachers could use this book as a mentor text and ask students to find the similes and metaphors, as well as to identify the various types of conflicts which confront Will and Denny. Recommended for boys and girls from 6th grade and upwards.
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