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True Talents Hardcover – March 6, 2007
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From School Library Journal
Grade 6–8—A year has passed since the five boys from Hidden Talents (Tor, 1999) left Edgeview Alternative School. An evil former military operative, Major Bowdler, has kidnapped telekinetic 15-year-old Eddie "Trash" Thalmayer, and his supernaturally talented friends must rescue him. The plot—full of top-secret equipment and espionage—is a little confusing, but it moves well, thanks to Trash's snappy and heartfelt narration. Lubar's trademark, genius one-liners are few here, as the sober themes of mortality and the fuzzy area between good and evil prevail. Fortunately, the novel's swashbuckling action balances the mood. The author's writing is as fluid and teen-smart as ever, though discussion of the boys' true talent—their brotherly bond—is occasionally heavy-handed and sentimental. The characters have both depth and sparkle, and the author deftly juggles the ensemble of five funny, thoughtful, distinct boys. Bowdler is just plain, puppy-killing mean, but Lubar gives him dimension by getting into his head. Older elementary and middle school fans of the genre, even those who missed Hidden Talents, should enjoy this one.—Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Fans of Lubar's Hidden Talents (1999) will be happy to see the paranormals from Edgeview Alternative School back together in an action-packed adventure. Fifteen-year-old "Trash" tests his telekinesis in a bank by moving a stack of cash into his pocket, which sets off a dangerous chain of events, including his kidnapping by shady spooks. Meanwhile, the others in the group gravitate to Philadelphia, where they unite to stop a government conspiracy and uncover their most powerful weapon--the strength of their friendship. Brief chapters alternating among the six characters' stories are interspersed with memos, e-mails, illustrations, and notes that enhance the plot and also break up the text in a way that will draw reluctant readers. Lubar's trademark blend of humor and suspense, complete with explosions, supernatural powers, and just enough gore, will be a hit. Heather Booth
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
Stick with the first book, and stop there.
"Someone whispered in my ear. Three words. 'Be cool, Trash.' "
"School days were such happy days
Now they seem so far away"
I fondly remember those school days that were so uncomplicated and happy, those younger days that revolved around friendships amongst a group of guys. Sadly, a devastating house fire two decades ago scatted the ashes of a long-cherished photograph to the wind, but I can still see that photo perfectly in my mind's eye. It was taken the afternoon of my twelfth birthday, exactly forty years ago, today. March 4th in 1967 fell on a Saturday. We were all dressed quite nicely -- mostly button-down shirts and even some blazers -- and we were all at my house, downstairs in the rec room, gathered close together at that moment, mugging for the camera. It would be the last big occasion I'd ever share with many of them, for we were in what would today be called a charter school, and many of those guys would begin the next school year at a distant junior high school situated at the other end of the large school district. The crowd that day included the lanky Mike O'Brien, an upcoming basketball player who could expertly pick out "Do You Want to Know a Secret" on his acoustic guitar. There was Paul Marino, who could pull faces that would crack up a Sphinx. David Cripps was my steady homework buddy -- we'd been the school's math stars for the past couple of years. Brian Staab and I had gotten together and collaborated on the sort of memorable science fair project that required incendiary devices.
Sure, I was also friends in those days with some girls. (Not that there were any at that party.) It was back when girls were still just people, with all the adolescent self-consciousness and weirdness somewhere yet on the horizon. Nevertheless, I just didn't have the kind of camaraderie with girls that I did with the guys. All the significant females in my life at that point in time were caregivers; in contrast, those guys played a significant role in who I was.
"When I woke on Friday morning, Martin was already up, watching TV with the sound turned low.
" 'I have a perfect plan,' he said. 'We stay here. The food is great. They have all the good cable channels.' He pointed to the TV section from the paper. 'There are some cool shows on tonight. The beds are comfortable, and there's a maid to clean up after us. What do you think?' "
David Lubar's 1999 tween novel HIDDEN TALENTS is a middle school treasure-of-a-story. I was turned onto it years ago by an eighth grader who announced in one of Shari's English classes that "Anyone who likes HOLES will love HIDDEN TALENTS." (That sure got us to read it in a hurry, and we've been booktalking it ever since.) HIDDEN TALENTS is the story of six troubled boys who, upon being sent to the high-security Edgewater Alternative School and meeting one another, discover that each is really a superhero of sorts -- a group of boys with hidden talents. One of the most wonderful things about HIDDEN TALENTS and TRUE TALENTS, one that is sometimes overlooked in those discussions that often center on the more clever and flashier aspects of the story, is the spot-on camaraderie among the boys.
"Flinch dove past me, landed on the bed with a belly flop, and shot his arm toward the bedside table. 'I got it,' he said. As he put his hand on the phone, it rang.
" 'Showoff,' I said.
"He flashed me a smirk and lifted the receiver. Before he could speak, I yanked the phone from him and shot it across the room to my waiting hand, then returned his smirk as I said, 'Hello?' "
In TRUE TALENTS, the long-awaited sequel, the six boys reunite and take their show on the road to Philly, becoming embroiled in a thriller of deceit and danger and death and double-crosses. A really, really bad guy has caught wind of some of their hidden talents and is developing a plan to control the sextet for his own sinister purposes. So the boys -- who so clearly care about each other -- have to help one another out of some seriously scary scrapes and, in the process, reveal their true talents.
"But there was nothing he could do about it. Life didn't come with a backspace key."
In TRUE TALENTS, as was the case with my life in sixth grade, the occasional female characters are pretty much all caregivers. And so, while there is no backspace key of life that permits me to go hang once again with my old buddies from the Grace L. Hubbs Extended School Year program, I have, instead, spent quality time chilling with another great bunch of guys: Martin, Cheater, Lucky, Flinch, Trash, and Torchie (who just set the candles AND the cake on fire).