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Mister Boots Hardcover – July 21, 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Carol Emshwiller divides her time between New York City and Bishop, California. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Carol Emshwiller is the author of many acclaimed novels and story collections, including Carmen Dog, The Start of the End of It All (winner of the World Fantasy Award), Report to the Men’s Club and Other Stories, I Live with You and You Dont’ Know It, and The Mount (winner of the Philip K. Dick Award and a Nebula Award finalist). She teaches in the NYU Continuing Education program, and divides her time between homes in New York City and California. Visit Carol online at www.sfwa.org/members/emshwiller. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile; 1St Edition edition (July 21, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670059684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670059683
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,334,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Richard R. Horton on January 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is about a girl named Bobby Lassiter, who has just turned 10 as we meet her. She is living in the California desert with her mother and her 20 year old sister. The depression is just around the corner, but this family knows poverty just fine -- they barely scrape by on the proceeds of the older women's knitting. The father, who was evidently terribly abusive (physically -- whippings of all three -- not sexually) left them when Bobby was very young. Bobby (full name Roberta) is apparently called Bobby because the father wanted a boy -- and, indeed, no one but her sister and mother knows she's a girl.

She meets a man on their property one night, who tells her he is really a horse, named Mister Boots. He too has been abused by his human owners. Bobby feeds and clothes him, and eventually takes him home. Events follow quickly from their. The mother dies. Mister Boots and the older girl, Jocelyn, fall in love. Their father, Robert Lassiter, returns and the abuse begins again. He wants Bobby to become a magician, just like him -- and she finds she is good at that, and wants to do it. They head to LA (Bobby dressed as a boy -- which her father still thinks she is), and become a successful magic act, despite Mister Boots's refusal to turn into a horse onstage. Bobby makes her first ever friendship with a girl her age: a similarly bereft Mexican girl named Rosie whom she meets in a sort of hobo camp. They meet their father's long time mistress -- or is she really his wife, and are they illegitimate? But then the Depression hits, and the money dries up, and things get worse and worse, until a final revelation and a final horrible act.

It's a charming and hopeful story in one sense, with a delightful narrator in Bobby.
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Format: Hardcover
Bobby has secrets; she has her family's life savings and a gun in her suitcase, her sister's boyfriend is really a horse (sometimes), but the biggest secret of all, the one that not even her father knows, the secret she must keep to become a stage magician, is that she's a girl.

I'm not sure this is actually a YA book. The character is young for a teen book, but it takes place during the great depression and there is some death and violence, so it might possibly be classified as teen for that. The issue of placing it aside, I liked it. Bobby was fun and clever, and Mister Boots was sweet. It took me a while to really get into it, but I think that was me and not the book, because there is action almost from the beginning.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Overall, not badly written and a good reminder that we need to be aware that kids who are abused sometimes are told and actually believe they deserve the abuse, that children always deserve someone to stand up for them and people are not always what they seem. This includes kids who appear to be different, strange, or have behavorial problems. They are often dealing and trying to cope with issues in their personal lives.

I do agree with a previous reviewer that the book is dark. The physical and emotional abuse were disturbing (stripping Bobby naked to whip her entire body or having her clothes pulled down by a stranger who begins to make advances to her once he finds out 'he' is a 'she').

So, I did not find this book to be sweet or a nice little novel. I think for a certain age group it might be appealing but the content is definitely geared to an older audience. I agree with the young adult classification.

As a side note, it was very hard to get my head around Mister Boots occasional transformations from animal to human form and the fact that in the end a child was conceived that had to be hidden at home so no one would know about her. I thought Bobby's musing about whether or not her sister could actually have a horse baby was kind of silly and, lo and behold, in the end she did!
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