Hidden Talents is a dazzling coming-of-age story about a boy who finds buried deep within his soul the courage to face up to his own worst enemy: himself.
“At a time when truly humorous young adult fiction is scarce, reading Lubar's first YA novel (a coming of age story) is like finding a nest of kittens in a hayloft--wondrously surprising, playful, and heartwarming.” VOYA (5Q, 4P, M, J)
“Hidden Talents provides us with a glimpse of David Lubar as a writer whose comic talent is matched by his ability to write with sensitivity and power about adolescents.” The Alan Review
“On the whole Lubar serves up great fun, along with an insight or two for those whose powers are only too human.” Publishers Weekly
“[T]he interrelationships between the five misfits and their interactions with the teachers are credible, and the dialogue is right on target. With plenty of humor, this is a good bet for reluctant readers as well as for kids who like offbeat fiction.” Booklist
“Hidden Talents is becoming--and deserves to be--a classic of YA literature. It's one of the best, no matter what age you are.” Orson Scott Card, bestselling author of Ender's Game
- Tom Doherty Associates
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Special Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 5.26(w) x 7.56(h) x 0.65(d)
- Age Range:
- 12 - 15 Years
Read an Excerpt
By David Lubar
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2015 David Lubar
All rights reserved.
Off the Bus and Into Trouble
All I needed was handcuffs. If my wrists had been chained to the seat, the scene could have been taken straight from one of those movies where they show the bus bringing the new guy to the prison. Of course, there wasn't any need for cuffs on this ride. Fill my pockets with rocks, add a couple more layers of winter clothes — wet winter clothes — and I might push the scale up toward ninety pounds.
The bus driver looked like he weighed three times that much. His wrists were thicker than my neck. He could probably crumple me up like a used tissue and still keep one hand on the steering wheel. No way I was going to cause him any trouble.
So I wasn't in cuffs — but the rest of it felt a lot like going to prison. I was the only passenger on the bus. After a long ride across three counties, we'd reached the main gate at Edgeview Alternative School. A guard out front holding a clipboard waved us inside, then talked with the bus driver for a minute. The two of them reminded me of a pair of dogs who stop for a quick sniff as they pass each other on their way to important doggy missions. I smiled at the thought of the driver wriggling around on his back in the grass.
Once the driver and the guard finished yapping, we rolled through the yard. The building even looked kind of like a prison — big, cold, gray stone, all wrapped up with a high brick fence. Edgeview was the sort of place where people kept broken machines, old tires, and other stuff they didn't need. Yeah, this was a place for things nobody wanted. End of the trip. End of the line. No way I could pretend it wasn't happening.
As the bus stopped near the front door of the building, I noticed all the windows had that dead look of glass filled with wire — the type of windows they use in a gym or a warehouse. A man slipped out from behind the door and walked stiffly down the steps. I got the feeling he'd been watching from inside for the bus to show up so he wouldn't seem like he was waiting. At first, I thought he was real old. As he got closer, I realized he wasn't that much older than my parents — he just moved like he was ancient. He was wearing a dark suit with a bow tie. I never trusted anyone with a bow tie. I didn't trust anyone without a bow tie, either, but I especially didn't trust people who wore them.
The driver leaned over and pulled the handle, thrusting open the bus door. Then he glanced back at me. "Last stop, kid. Everyone out." He laughed. The big, stupid hunk of meat laughed like that was the funniest joke in the world.
I got up. My whole body made little cracking sounds as I straightened out. My spine was having its own Fourth of July celebration, six months late. Thanks to all the construction on the highway, the ride here had taken two hours. That wasn't counting the half-hour trip to the city to meet the bus. Me and Dad. What fun that was. Dad didn't say a word when he handed me over to the driver. He just gave me that where-have-I-failed? look. I didn't say anything, either. I just gave him my how-would-I-know? look. He couldn't wait to get out of there.
"Come on, kid," the driver said. "I ain't got all day."
I grabbed my bag out of the overhead rack and scooped up my jacket from the seat. Mom would have made me wear the jacket. Probably a dorky scarf, too. But it wasn't all that cold for the beginning of January, and Mom wasn't around.
"Move it, kid."
I took my time strolling down the aisle.
"Have a nice life," the driver said as I walked past him. He laughed again, wheezing like a donkey with asthma.
"Have a heart attack," I said. Then I hopped to the ground before he could grab me.
Behind my back, I heard the door slam hard, cutting off the stream of swear words the driver was spewing at me. Some people sure are touchy.
I looked at the stiff little man with the bow tie.
"Hello, Martin," he said, smiling the sort of smile that doesn't mean anything. "I'm Principal Davis. Welcome to Edgeview."
I had no idea what he expected me to say. Gee, nice place you have here, thanks for inviting me. I waited. He didn't seem like the sort of person who would run out of words. I'm sure he had all sorts of wisdom to share with me. I hadn't met an adult yet who didn't have essential advice to pass along.
"Well, you have a bit of settling in to do. We'd better get started." He creaked his way up the steps toward the front door, muttering the basic facts of my life as if to prove he knew and cared. "Martin Anderson, age thirteen, grade eight, hometown is Spencer, recently expelled from Spencer Heights Middle School. Previously expelled from Upper Spencer Junior High, expelled before that from ..."
I tuned him out. To my right, the bus rolled out through the gate and rumbled down the road, carrying the driver back to the free world. I followed Principal Davis inside the building. The entrance was dark, barely lit by two weak bulbs that hung from the ceiling on frayed cords. The air hung down over me, too. Warm and heavy air. I felt like I was breathing soup.
We climbed a steep flight of stairs to the left of the front door. The steps ended in the middle of a long hallway. Something that might have been a carpet a million footsteps ago clung to the floor. More dim bulbs made a halfhearted attempt at lighting the area, revealing walls covered with scrawled graffiti.
"I assume you understand why you are here," Principal Davis said.
"I got on the wrong bus?" I figured a very stupid question deserved an extremely stupid answer.
He ignored my guess and kept walking, leading me up a second flight of steps. The wall felt rough, and the dull green paint had flaked away in a couple of spots. The odor of old varnish on the second floor gave way to the sharper stench of unwashed clothing as I climbed higher.
I tried again. "I won a contest? I wrote the winning essay? I'm the tenth caller? I got the highest score in Final Jeopardy?" This was fun. And as long as I kept talking, I wouldn't have to think about where I was going.
"These are the living quarters," he said, still ignoring my guesses. "After you've gotten settled, I'll have someone give you a tour of the school." He stopped where he was and I caught up to him. Actually, I almost ran into him. His suit smelled like dusty mothballs.
"I know," I said as the perfect answer hit me. "I'm here because you need an assistant. The place is too much for you to handle by yourself. You just aren't up to the job."
Oops. That one got rid of his smile. His face turned mean and angry for an instant — the sort of meanness that needs to lash out and cause pain. I could almost hear his teeth grinding together. Unlike the smile, this was an honest expression. This was Principal Davis at his finest. If he'd been a cartoon character, steam would have shot from his nose and ears. But, like a true professional, he hid the anger quickly. "Well, now ... no point standing here chattering. Let's get you —"
He never finished that sentence. From down the hall, we were interrupted by a shout: "FIRE!"
Telephone Conversation Between the Parents of Martin Anderson
Richard Anderson: Hi. It's me. I got the kid to the bus. I stopped at the office on the way home.
Dorothy Anderson: Do you think he'll be okay?
Richard Anderson: Who knows? I hope this place does him some good. Heaven knows nothing else has worked. I'll tell you, my old man wouldn't have let me get away with anything. He'd have smacked me a couple of good ones with his belt. That always kept me in line. I don't know where the kid gets that mouth of his.
Dorothy Anderson: Martin's not that bad.
Richard Anderson: Tell that to the last three schools he's been kicked out of. Tell that to the scout troop that threw him out. And while you're at it, try telling it to his Little League coach. You know how bad that made me look when he mouthed off to the coach?
Dorothy Anderson: It's my fault. I just know it. I saw this psychologist on a talk show, and he said —
Richard Anderson: Forget that nonsense. And don't blame yourself. Or me. It's not our fault. It's his fault. We're good parents. His sister is turning out fine. We did everything we could. Listen, want me to pick up a pizza on the way home?
Dorothy Anderson: I guess. Yeah, that would be nice.CHAPTER 2
When I heard the kid shout, "FIRE!" my brain said, Get out of here, but my feet said, Freeze.
My feet won.
Suddenly, kids were running all over the place. Along both sides of the hall, doors flew open and kids popped out, almost like they were throwing a giant surprise party. Far down at the end of the hall, smoke drifted from a room. There wasn't a lot of smoke — just a trickle — but any smoke is bad if it isn't supposed to be there. At least the fire wasn't between me and the stairs. I relaxed when I realized I wasn't trapped.
"It's Torchie's room," one kid said. "He did it again."
Principal Davis sighed. "I told them to make sure he didn't get any matches," he said. "Can't anyone around here carry out a simple order? Do I have to do everything myself?"
"Coming through," someone shouted from behind us.
A guy raced up the stairs carrying a fire extinguisher. He sprinted past us and hurried toward the room. I followed, trying to slip my way through the crowd that had gathered at the edge of the smoke. I managed to squeeze next to the doorway and catch a glimpse inside the room. A small fire smoldered on a desk. It looked like a bunch of papers were burning. A kid stood pressed against the far wall, staring at the fire. I figured that must be Torchie.
"I didn't do it," he said. "Honest, I didn't do nuthin'." He raised his hands in a display of innocence. A trickle of sweat ran down his forehead, past his right eye. It stopped, finally, at his pudgy cheek. Red hair, also damp, drooped in clumps from a wandering part that ran along the center of his scalp. It was the sort of face a ventriloquist would have loved. "I didn't do it," he repeated.
Yeah, right, I thought. And I'm Abe Lincoln. In the room, the guy with the fire extinguisher let fly with a stream of foamy spray, knocking out the blaze pretty quickly. He spun toward the crowd of kids and spouted out words I never would have expected. "Quick, what have we learned here?"
Nobody said anything. I sure didn't.
"Come on," the man said. "This is easy. What three things are required for a fire?"
"Heat, fuel ..." a small kid at the back of the crowd said. I couldn't believe the guy was turning this into a science lesson. He had to be a teacher, though he sure wasn't dressed like one. He wore a T-shirt with PRINCETON on it in big orange letters hanging above a picture of a tiger. The shirt was tucked into a pair of jeans. The frayed jeans cuffs hung over scuffed shoes, the same way his ragged mustache hung over his upper lip.
"Right! Heat and fuel. That's two. Come on, one more," the man urged. He took a real deep breath.
"Oxygen," someone else said.
"Exactly!" The guy held up the extinguisher. "So we smother the fire to deprive it of oxygen. We can also stop a fire by lowering the temperature or removing the fuel. Remember that." He gave the desktop another short blast. Then he turned his attention to Torchie. I wondered if he was going to blast the kid with a stream of words the way he'd blasted the fire with a stream of foam, but he just sighed and said, "Philip, we need to work a bit harder on this problem of yours." He tucked the extinguisher under his left arm and held his right hand out, palm up.
Torchie — I guess his real name was Philip — opened his mouth as if he was going to protest. Then he shrugged, reached into his pants pocket, and pulled out a disposable lighter. "I really didn't do nuthin'," he said as he dropped the lighter in the man's hand. "Honest."
What a loser.
The man didn't say anything more to Torchie. He put the lighter in his own pocket, then turned back to the crowd and said, "Okay, guys, it's all over. Nothing else to see. Move along." He sounded like a city cop trying to get people away from an accident, but I sort of liked that.
"Well," Principal Davis said, coming up behind me, "this works out rather nicely. Now that you're together, allow me to introduce you to your roommate. Martin Anderson, meet Philip Grieg."
My roommate? Oh crap. This had to be a joke.
Torchie looked at the principal and spewed out the double-negative denial yet again. "I didn't do nuthin'." His eyes shifted over toward me as if he hoped I could leap to his defense. Keep dreaming, fireboy.
"We'll deal with that issue later, Philip. For now, why don't you be a good lad and show Martin around the school. I have to get back to my office."
With that, Principal Davis marched off, leaving me alone in the company of Philip or Torchie or whatever his flaming name was. I stared after the principal. That was it? Hi. Bye. Rip me from my home and shove me here. I had no choice except to turn back to my new roommate.
Now that it was just the two of us, I figured Torchie would find a different song. No such luck. "I really didn't do it," he said.
Sheesh — he needed a sign with that printed on it. Or one of those big pin-on buttons. Then he could just point whenever he wanted to claim he was innocent. I waited for him to change the subject. He wiped his face with his sleeve. It didn't do much for his face, and it left a big wet blotch on his shirt.
"Didn't do nuthin'," he said.
"So I heard." This was just great. They'd put me in a room with a kid who liked to start fires. Fantastic. If I'd known ahead of time, I'd at least have brought some marshmallows. We could have toasted them. Hot dogs would be nice, too. As it was, I hoped I didn't end up getting toasted myself. Man, we'd be a great pair if that happened. Torchie and Toastie.
I glanced at the window to make sure it was big enough for me to squeeze through in an emergency. As far as I could see, there wasn't a fire escape. At least there weren't any bars. On the other hand, this was the third floor, so I hoped I'd never have to use the window as an exit.
One of the two beds in the room was under the window. From the rumpled look, and a couple of burn marks on the sheets, I figured it was Torchie's. The other bed, along the opposite wall, was unmade, but a pile of sheets and blankets were stacked on it, along with a photocopied booklet that said Welcome to Edgeview on the cover. I took a quick glance through the booklet, saw nothing important, then tossed it into the small garbage can next to the bed. There wasn't much else in the room, just two old wooden desks, two small dressers, also made of wood, a pair of lamps, and a closet. A picture of Mars, torn from a magazine, was taped to one wall near the foot of Torchie's bed. Great. Except for the lamps and garbage can, everything in the room looked flammable. To top it off, the place already smelled like the inside of a fireplace. I tossed my bag to the floor by the closet.
"What are you here for?" Torchie asked.
"What do you care?" I asked back.
He shrugged. "I don't know. Just wondering. Figured, being roommates and all, I should get to know you. And maybe you'd want to know about me. Some of the people here aren't too friendly. Not me. I like people."
I held up my hand to shut him off. "I'm here because I seem to have a bit of a problem respecting authority. That's how they put it. Well, that's how the polite ones put it. I've also been called a major pain in the butt, a disturbing influence, a smart mouth, and a snotty-nosed little puke, among other things." I didn't bother adding some of Dad's more colorful phrases. There was no point telling this fire freak my life's story. Not that he'd care.
I stared at the charred pieces of papers scattered around the desk and the bits of extinguisher foam dripping slowly onto the rug. What a mess. It looked like a giant cow had let loose with one monster of a sneeze. "And you're here because you have a hard time with math, right?"
"Huh?" Poor Torchie seemed a bit puzzled.
"Just kidding." I could see this was going to be a lot of fun. I reached down toward my bag. But I didn't want to unpack yet. That would make it real. "So, you feel like showing me around? Principal Davis didn't exactly give me a detailed introduction to the place."
"Yeah. Sure." Torchie led me into the hall and started giving me the tour of Edgeview Alternative School.
Excerpted from Hidden Talents by David Lubar. Copyright © 2015 David Lubar. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
DAVID LUBAR created a sensation with his debut novel, Hidden Talents, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. He is also the author of True Talents, Flip, and Extremities, an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers, as well as the popular Weenies short-story collections, and the Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie series, which has been optioned for TV. He lives in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
This book is awesome! I read it very fast because it is so good. It is an awesome book for someone like me who likes fantasy/science fiction books, especially if they have to do with superpowers or something similar. It is a great book for someone who doesn't particularly like fantasy/science fiction because it is funny and interesting. But if you don't like those sorts of books and you think they make stories boring, don't bother to read it. And I'm not going to tell what the story's about because if you want to know just look on this page.
Ok I would recommend this book to almost everyone because it was great. This book is kind of Suspenseful and takes a while to get to the exciting parts, but it is really interesting in what goes on in the book. There are a lot of great parts throughout the book it is a pretty easy read through also. It is amazing how fast you actually get through this book it is like watching a movie that you really love. In this book there are five main characters and they all take part in certain objectives, each having a different talent, each talent amazingly used. Please read this book.
This is an awsome book to read if your into the whole supernatural thing like me... and TRUST ME there are those with the same powers of that in the book. Anyway, if you don't enjoy a book where you cant put it down cuz u wanna find out what happens next, its not for but if u like a good book with exciting twists and interesting characters I reccomend this book to you.
Hidden Talents Hidden Talents was a good book. It has a cool twist in the book. It¿s interesting to see the world from Martins eyes. I liked how they have letters and school assignments in the book. This is an original book. I like it when Martin has a really bad day and manages to tick off every single teacher. I didn¿t like it when Martin spent almost a whole day in the library. I would suggest that you read this book.
When it comes to adult authority. junior high school student Martin Anderson cannot keep his mouth shut as he rejects the constant advice with smart answers and insults. He has been expelled from six schools, the boy scouts, and the little league. He rides the bus to his final destination the prison-like Edgeview Alternative School, an institution used to lock up the violent and other losers (where is Pink Floyd when you need them?) Martin realizes he must be on the cutting edge to survive the ready fists of bully Bloodbath and the shock therapy of Warden, (make that Principal) Davis. On the plus side Martin meets four fellow weirdoes with special psychic powers. Torchy lights fires without matches or lighters; Cheater copies test answers from anyone sitting anywhere; Lucky steals anything; and Trash trashes stuff. Martin believes his only power is what adults label acerbic while he would say satirical tongue. The five losers band together as Martin discovers his HIDDEN TALENTS and try to stop a plot to shut the school of last resort down. Though the climax seems out of character for the magnificent five, the Harry Potter crowd will enjoy their misadventures. The quintet is at their diabolical best when they interrelate with one another. Although much of the key secondary cast seems stereotypical, readers will enjoy sharing a pizza with Martin¿s beleaguered parents as they and the young audience will wonder what will he do or say next. Harriet Klausner
Do you enjoy a good book that you can't put down? If so then you have to read Hidden Talents. Martin has run out of options he has been kicked out of every school around so now he has to go to the only school that will take him Edge View Junior High. That's where bad kids go and martin is not a bad kid but he knows how to get under the skin of his teachers. When he meets his new roommate named torchie who is all the time getting in trouble for starting fires. Torchie insists that he doesn't start them. He meets the bully of Edge View named Bloodbath Martin tries to stay away from him. Then Martin meets this kid nicknamed cheater because people think he cheats on everything but Cheater says that he is super smart and knows everything. He also meets Trash who throws things Lucky who steals stuff but he says he finds the stuff Flinch that is really jumpy. With all of them there he discovers that Cheater can read minds, Flinch can see into the future, Trash who has telekinesis, Torchie who can start fires with his mind, Lucky knows where hidden things are. Martin has no power till he discovers his special powers are able to hurt people with his words. All six of them are trying to stop Bloodbath from ruing inspection of edge view. This is a great book for anybody who wants to get some adventure and comedy. Read this book it was great. This review was by Justin Durr
I really liked this book. The writer mase it fun and exciting. It may look hard, but it's awsome. I really how it relates to my life and makes me dream. I would recomend this book to anyone.
This book was great! It had a great story line to it and even ended with a twist. It was very interesting at points but i could not put it down. The characters were my favorite part of the book. Once i learned about a new character, i immediately became attached to him. I would have to say that my favorite part of the book was the ending. It was very unpredictable. I would recomend this book to those with a great imagintation and who like to read fictional books. If this sounds like you, i would go out and buy this book right now!
'Hidden Talents' is an absolutely thrilling book! It is such a page turner. If you like to read exciting stories about psychic kids, I advise you to read 'Hidden Talents'.
This book was great! I really liked all the amazing powers that the book tells about. That is why I would recommend it to anyone who wanted to read about physic powers, and how they help a bunch of kids save there school. In the book six kids team together to fight against bully's and face a bunch of commitee members who want to shut down their school. They are the only kids that can help, so they have to act fast. This book is so good. I am glad I read it and I bet you will enjoy it if it is the book you pick. It is definitely one of the best book ever
I thought the book was ok. It is about these kids with special powers. They are in a school to help kids with their problems. At first the kids don¿t know that they even have special powers. So they get in trouble for something they don¿t know they are doing. The worst part about the book was the ending. It ended too soon. If you like books with people having special powers then I recommend this book.
This is a really awsome book! If you havn't read it before then you need to! This book is about a kid named Martin that has to go a new school called Edgeview alternative school, and while he is there he has to deal with many things and finds out talents that were hidden. Find out more by reading the book! I promise you will love it!
Recommended for anybody.
I read the sequel...even better
I read the book and thought it was what it says in the headline... okay. I liked how lovable the characters were, and the interactions between all of of the characters. I thought that the story, however could have been a little better. For example, when Marvin is figuring out that his friends have powers, don't just throw it on the reader and say, "Hey, we're just some people who became friends, but yet we all have powers." I just felt that the author could have done a little better with introducing them. Also, when you find out that Marvin has powers as well, I didn't like how it just felt thrown at you at the end. I would have liked to have that come sooner in the book, like maybe when he tells the group that they have powers. These are just my personal feelings, don't let these keep you from reading the book.
David Lubar have a fallowing with this book. I relate to the charaters even though it's fiction to the core. Funny and witty I absolutly reconmend it to anyone who loves life.
My brother is reading this he said it is a great!!!!!!!!!!
I found this book entertaining
I know that reading is very, very boring and that's what i think too! But this is such a good book that it makes me not want to stop and go do something else. When I read this book, i absolutely could not stop reading it! It was so suspenseful. By what I wrote you would think that i would recommend this book to everyone but I wouldn't. I think that this book is fit for a person that likes super heroes and of course super powers and fantasy. Like my cousin Andres, he is obsessed with super heroes and thing like that. Not a person who likes romance and comedy. Like my mother that is also very obsessed with soup operas. What did I like about the book? Well pretty much everything. I liked the beginning, the middle the plot, the characters, and the ending. I even liked the boring parts where pretty much nothing happens. But in this book, just when the story is getting pretty boring, something exiting happens. That's what I like about this book. Other books I might read by this author? Well I have read many by this author like for example: Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, Punished! The Curse of the Campfire Weenies, and Invasion of the Road Weenies. If I would read another book from this author it would be Dunk. I would read this book because of its rating and the customer reviews it has. I read the review and most of them say it is good so I guess I would read that book. Over-all, this is a good book. You should read this book.. you'll thank me later.
The main character of this story, Martin Anderson, is a troubled child that has been kicked out of countless schools before he landed his spot at Edgeview Alternative School. He had many problems with respecting authority. Whenever someone would try to help him or give him advice, he would do nothing but give them smart answers and insult them. He made amny friends during his first couple of days, but something was strange about them. For that point on Martin's life became one mystery after another. I like how the author, David Lubar, made the characters interact with one another. The personalities that he gave each character, and what happened to them during the story seemed to fit together perfectly. The events that took place themselves flowed together flawlessly, but they always managed to leave you wondering what was going to end up happening next. There is nothing left undiscovered at the end of this book, not even the smallest details are left unsolved or unexplained. None of the action or the mystery is hard to follow and everything that happens, happens for a reason. The action that is going on during the story is described so well it's almost like it's happening right infront of you. If someone asked me for my opinion of this book, I would tell them it's a must read. If I ever have the chance I would love to read it again. I like how during the book the author puts letters to and from people that go along with what's happening in the story. It helps the action along even though you know some things that the characters don't. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a good read.