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Ostrich Boys Hardcover – March 23, 2010
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When their friend Ross is killed in an accident, Blake, Sam, and Kenny are devastated by the loss and furious at the hypocritical outpouring of support by previously uncaring teachers and fellow students at the boy’s funeral. What are the mourning mates to do? Why, steal Ross’ ashes, of course, and take them from London to the village of Ross in Scotland for a proper funeral. What starts as a bit of a farce quickly turns serious as the three teens encounter mounting difficulties on their journey. Secrets they’ve either jealously guarded from each other or chosen, ostrichlike, to ignore begin to spill out—secrets that will test their own friendship and may reveal some surprises about Ross’ death. Unfortunately, the critically important backstory is reserved for the very end of the book, where its presentation feels rushed and a bit prosaic. Nevertheless, the boys are likable, their adventures en route are often diverting, and the big reveal invites some rethinking of the meaning of hypocrisy. Grades 8-12. --Michael Cart
About the Author
Keith Gray has won the Angus Book Award and the silver medal in the Smarties Prize. Visit him at his Web site, www.keith-gray.com.
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From vandalism, to stowing away on a train, to theft and bungee jumping, this story has it all. Around each chapter, the boys do something you never would imagine. And in the end they discover things you would never believe. This is a great story that reminds me of Stand By Me and something better. What's better than Stand By Me, you ask? Ostrich Boys. I cannot speak highly enough for this amazing story.
After the boys attend his funeral, they decide the ceremony didn't do their friend justice. Ross was so much more than a collection of words and hymns. As a sort of revenge for the fact that he was taken in such unfair circumstances and at an early age, they concoct a plan to honor him in their own way.
Ross always dreamed of visiting a town of the same name, Ross, Scotland. The three remaining friends "kidnap" Ross's ashes and head to Scotland. The removal of the funeral urn from Ross's home didn't go as smoothly as planned, so their scheme to take a train to Scotland and back in just two days turns into a sort of escape that has Ross's family and the families of the three boys frantic.
Just before leaving Ross's house, his father confronted Blake about the possibility that Ross may have taken his own life by riding his bike into the path of the car. Blake is shocked by the question, as are Kenny and Sim, but shortly into their journey there is word that they have been on the evening news. Speculation is that the three boys are part of a suicide pact, and now the hunt is on.
OSTRICH BOYS is filled with action and adventure. Each boy is unique - Blake is known as the intelligent one, Kenny is the computer whiz and happens to be the bankroll for their trip until he unfortunately forgets his bag while switching trains, and Sim possesses an amazing knowledge of collective nouns that is sure to fascinate and provide remarkably useless information for readers.
Author Keith Gray combines bungee jumping, wild train rides, quirky characters, and the emotional upheaval of losing a close friend to create an incredible tale. A bit of a slow start might discourage some readers, but if they are encouraged to stick with it, most will find it a rewarding read.
Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
This book is about the remarkable journey of four friends. Kenny is the only child of wealthy parents. He's a bit slow, at times, but his main love comes from computers and knowing how to fix electronics. He dresses in designer duds, but has a tendency to lose things he absolutely has to have. Sim is a darker, cooler young man who comes from a two-parent home, but being that each parent works at different hours, it's a lot like being a boy on his own. Blake is involved in step-family sagas. Mom and Dad are divorced, remarried to other people, and have "new" children from their second marriages. They always throw on a smile for Blake and make sure that everything is "perfect."
Their fourth friend is Ross Fell. Ross is...dead. When our story begins, we are with Blake, Sim, and Kenny, still clothed in their funeral attire, trying to come to terms with the fact that their best friend has been hit by a car while riding his bike. They discuss the funeral, and get extremely angry that all the people who had made their friend's life miserable had the audacity to show up at the ceremony and pretend to mourn. The three friends intend to get the hypocrites starting with Mr. Fowler, the hateful teacher; Munro, the school bully who tried to make Ross' life miserable; and, Nina, the girl who broke their best friend's heart.
But Blake has an idea. The one thing Ross had always wanted to do was travel to Ross, Scotland. He'd always joked about wanting to be Ross in Ross. So, instead of destroying property, Blake wants to honor his best friend by doing something that Ross wanted more than anything. But...how to do it? The three friends go to Ross' family's house, kidnap the ashes of their deceased buddy and take off on a train. What comes next is a remarkable journey that involves things like bungee-jumping; the Tramp's Hotel; girls...let's face it, the ultimate road trip.
The story is authentic, funny, charming, and real. It reminds us all that we choose our friends; they become our real family. A large number of children don't get the perfect family, like I did, so their friends are the group that keeps them going when times get tough. There are twists in this story that will surprise any reader, and an underlying current of hope and faith that will make the rest of America welcome Keith Gray with open arms.