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My Father the Werewolf Hardcover – July 26, 2005
From School Library Journal
Grade 8-10–A werewolf is loose in Pismo Beach and on a foggy evening in June, Ken Paxton is attacked while walking on the beach with his children, Danny, 14, and Miranda, 16. The attack is thwarted by local werewolf hunter Sid McKenzie, but not before the creature inflicts enough damage to seal Ken's fate. Knowing that he must find a place to change while keeping innocent people from danger, Ken moves his family from California to Maine, where he knows of a deserted 20-acre island perfect for his needs–close enough to the mainland to reach by boat but not close enough to swim to it. That is, unless Maine has the coldest winter in 50 years and the bay freezes solid enough to walk across. The story has potential, but it isn't very interesting. Most of it focuses on the days leading up to the full moon and Ken's job. Readers will more likely want to know about the details of his transformation and perhaps some werewolf lore, both of which are lacking. It is clear from the few scenes involving the beast that the author is capable of exciting, attention-grabbing description. However, readers will be disappointed by the lack of action and suspense, and the characters are so poorly developed that it's difficult to care about them. Steer teens interested in werewolves to Clare B. Dunkle's By These Ten Bones (Holt, 2005) or Annette Curtis Klause's Blood and Chocolate (Delacorte, 1997).–Michele Capozzella, Chappaqua Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 9-12. Like Garfield's Tartabull's Throw and Moondog (both 2001), this difficult tale shows his dark sensibility and his passion for baseball. Teens Miranda and Danny move with their father, Ken, from coastal California to Maine. As seen through the eyes of his children, especially Danny, Ken is a dreamer, a writer, a stoner; and at each full moon, they row him out to an uninhabited island, where he turns into a werewolf, having been bitten in California. In December the bay freezes over, allowing Ken, in werewolf form, to hunt in town. Danny tries to save him and the town by using his treasured collection of fireworks, which leads to a fire that burns down the call center where Ken works. The 2001 baseball season, which plays a role, lightens the story somewhat. Point of view shifts from Danny to Dad to other figures in the novel tend to be abrupt, and the book doesn't so much end as simply stops. The fragile possibility for a solution offers some hope in the denouement. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Just as in real life much of Maine's native industries have been displaced by a giant loan and collection agency, the town of Liverpool has been subject to their own vampiric influence, a sinister lending operations called AMIC. Little Miranda has her own obscene name for this acronym.
Tensions rise in the village between representatives of the huge conglomerate and the ordinary people who are feeling shoved out and displaced by mass capital. Garfield paints a vicious picture of globalization and proves that leftleaning horror writing can be more than mere liberal propaganda. Where the werewolf story fits in isn't really clear, and little Danny, who suffers through his father's distressing pot use, is sort of a sad sack and not really much of a hero, but in general Garfield has the right idea and knows how to make a wolf seem evil--and corporations too.
It's a sad story, sadder than most because (werewolf storyline aside) it rings so true. Children today don't have parents they can't count on, and they are forced to grow up too soon.
The ending of the book is bleak, like something by Georges Simenon. In capitalism, the author seems to say, we are all in a sort of prison farm, where the big bosses are pissing on the floor and expecting us to clean it up. Not very cheerful, but Brechtian to a fault.