4.6 10
by Willo Davis Roberts

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"I didn't like Willie Groves, but I didn't hate him enough to want someone to kidnap him."
Famous last words. Joey Bishop soon finds himself face-to-face with the kidnappers himself (as well as his archenemy) in this fast-paced, urban story that will leave you panting for your next breath.


"I didn't like Willie Groves, but I didn't hate him enough to want someone to kidnap him."
Famous last words. Joey Bishop soon finds himself face-to-face with the kidnappers himself (as well as his archenemy) in this fast-paced, urban story that will leave you panting for your next breath.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Joey Bishop witnesses a kidnapping and comes to regret his reputation for making up stories. Later, when he is kidnapped himself, Joey must rely on his own wits to escape the culprits. Ages 8-12. (Dec.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Bruce Adelson
Joey Bishop enjoys the good life, son of a wealthy family, student at an exclusive private school to which he is driven each day by Ernie, the family chauffeur. But after accidentally tangling with Willie Groves, the school's tough guy, Joey fears for his life. Knowing Willie is looking to clobber him after school one day, Joey hides, only to witness something terrible, what seems to be Groves's kidnaping. But when Joey sounds the alarm, his reputation as a fibber comes back to haunt him. Virtually no one believes him ! Although Joey questions what he saw, Willie really was kidnaped. It is Joey's mission to rescue his mortal enemy and convince everyone of his veracity. The author weaves a suspenseful, entertaining tale which grabs and holds the reader's attention throughout the story. There is much drama here and also a mildly surprising twist at the end where Joey is betrayed by someone he has grown to respect and trust. This will be an excellent addition to libraries' mystery sections.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6In a new twist on the old "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" story, 11-year-old Joey Bishop's well-deserved reputation as a liar and teller of tall tales gets in the way of helping to solve a crime. When Joey accidentally hits the class bully in the nose, he knows it's only a matter of time before Willie seeks revenge. Hiding outside of his expensive New York City private school after most of the chauffeurs have come and gone, Joey witnesses the abduction of his worst enemy. By the time he convinces others of the veracity of his story, he realizes that having seen the kidnapping is nearly as dangerous as being kidnapped. The fast-paced mystery unfolds with suspense and excitement, as Joey is nearly run down and then abducted himself. A double-crossing by an old friend and the making of a new one conclude this first-person narrative. Joey's frustrations with his schoolmates and family add humor to the mystery. While the subplots tend to dilute the tension, this remains a quick, satisfying read.Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME

Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Kidnappers

  • It’s a mistake to earn the reputation of being a liar. It seems harmless enough to make up stories to entertain yourself, but it can backfire. The way it did with me.

    On Thursday, Mr. Epperson told us to write a brief personal essay. On the spur of the moment, no time to think about it.

    As it happened, I was scared. Too scared to think about anything except meeting Willie after school. So that’s what I wrote about.

    I was the last one to hand in my paper. Mr. Epperson ran a cursory glance down the page, reading aloud the final sentence. “ ‘He’s going to kill me. Dot, dot, dot.’ Well, Bishop, if pulp fiction ever makes a comeback, you’ll have your niche, all right. In thirty years of teaching I’ve never had a student who had more imagination than you have.”

    “I didn’t make it up,” I said, my voice squeaking a little. “It’s true.”

    He smiled. “Sure it is. See you tomorrow, Bishop.”

    I don’t know how I got through the rest of the afternoon. Everywhere I looked, there was Willie glaring at me. Willie was really William John Edward Groves, III, who stood a head taller than I did and outweighed me by maybe fifteen pounds. Who had taken my elbow in his nose and spouted blood all over the gym during third period, making everyone laugh uproariously.

    I’d tried to apologize. I mean, I didn’t mean to do it. It was an accident. Not that I’d have cared much, if he hadn’t gotten so mad. I didn’t especially like Willie.

    Willie was picked up from school by limousine, like practically everyone else who attends St. Bart’s. I saw him standing just inside the gates, as the rules say we have to do, waiting for his car. He was watching the main front door, but I stayed inside, out of sight. No way was I going to walk out there and let him pound on me. There were even a couple of other kids standing around, probably waiting to see the massacre.

    My own car showed up, with Ernie driving. I could see him, waiting in line with other cars, drumming his fingers on the wheel. He wore a uniform cap, and he was distinctive because he always looked as if he needed a shave, even if he’d just had one. He said he’d been that way since he was about fifteen, and he shaved twice a day except on his days off.

    Would he rescue me if Willie jumped me on the way to the car? Maybe, but not before Willie got in some good licks. I didn’t think he’d be satisfied with anything less than blood—mine—preferably in great quantity in front of as many other kids as possible.

    I hesitated, and then I saw that the Groveses’ chauffeur had arrived, pulling up and double-parking beyond Ernie. Willie was obviously reluctant to go before I came out, but after the chauffeur leaned out the window and yelled something, Willie gave up and got in the car.

    Only after they’d driven away did I emerge, sliding in beside Ernie with a breath of relief.

    “What held you up, sport?” Ernie asked, putting the car in gear and easing out into traffic. “You gonna make me late for my date with Alice.”

    I could tell by the overpowering odor of aftershave that he was going to see Alice. She gave it to him, so I guess she liked it. It made me want to open a window.

    “I was waiting for Willie Groves to leave. He was going to kill me.”

    “Oh, right, well, that’s okay, then,” Ernie said. He was a big, burly guy, about thirty, I think. He had a thick head of black hair, and he was usually chewing on a toothpick. He said it helped keep him from smoking.

    “He said he was going to kill me,” I persisted, knowing he didn’t believe me. “Because I accidentally gave him a nosebleed in front of everybody else.”

    Ernie grinned. “Good for you, Joey. Way to go.”

    “I didn’t do it on purpose,” I said. “Even if he is a jerk. I don’t have any suicide wish.”

    “How come you riding with me in this traffic, then?” Ernie cut in front of a yellow cab, lifted a finger in response to the honking horn, and eased around the corner in front of a bus.

    “I’m close enough to walk home,” I said, giving up. “I don’t really need to ride fourteen blocks.”

    “Oh, you think you’re safer out there?” He gestured with a thumb at cars and pedestrians. “Walking these streets, now there’s a death wish.”

    I didn’t really want to walk home, even if my parents would have allowed it. My brother, Mark, got mugged once and wound up in the emergency room for six stitches in his head.

    Ernie slammed on the brakes when a guy stepped off the curb in front of him, and that reminded me to fasten my seat belt before I went through the windshield.

    “You and that Willie ain’t very good friends, I guess,” Ernie said.

    “That’s an understatement,” I muttered. As a matter of fact, I didn’t really have very many friends at St. Bart’s, except for Pink Murphy. We were the two nerds, the ones who always aced the tests and spoiled everybody else’s marks on the curve by coming out higher than the rest of them. My guess was that any guy in school, other than Pink, would have stood around enjoying it if Willie caught me and pounded me silly.

    There was no place to pull in at the curb in front of our apartment building, so I got out while Ernie let traffic pile up behind him. Before I got to the front door, Sherman had it open for me. He wore a dark blue uniform, trimmed in gold, and Mother said he gave an air of class to the Upton Towers. Father said he gave it security, which was more to the point.

    “Afternoon, Joey,” Sherman said. He was a big, bulky man, but fast on his feet, and very strong. Twice I’d seen him pitch someone out of the building, and once I saw him tackle a purse snatcher. “How’s it going?”

    “Well, I escaped being slaughtered today. Who knows about tomorrow?”

    Sherman nodded. “We never know, do we? Your mother’s out, your sister’s home. Don’t know about the rest of the family.”

    “Okay,” I said. “Thanks, Sherman.” Sometimes it helped to be forewarned about what I’d be walking into.

    If it was only Sophie at home, there was no problem. She was twelve and a half, a year and a half older than I was, and we got along pretty well. It was Mark and my father I had to watch out for.

    I took the elevator to the top of the building. I could hear the piano before I unlocked our door. Always, always, Sophie is playing the piano.

    Our parents are very proud of my sister’s ability on the piano. She’s had lessons since she was three, and they have hopes that someday she’ll be a renowned concert pianist. Nobody ever has to make her practice; she just loves to play.

    I walked into the living room, past the baby grand, pausing until she finished a measure.

    “Ho,” I said when she stopped.

    “Ho,” Sophie responded, smiling.

    She’s the beauty of the family. Dark curls that look better on her than they do on either Mark or me, dark eyes with long lashes. Everybody always knows we’re siblings, but nobody ever says Mark and I are good looking, the way they do about Sophie.

    “What’s to eat?” I asked.

    “Fruit or junk? I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some chips.”

    She followed me into the kitchen and perched on a stool while I made a sandwich and opened a new bag of potato chips.

    “I escaped being murdered today,” I told her.

    “Good. I don’t want you to be murdered.”

    “It may happen tomorrow. Willie carries grudges. He’ll be lying in wait for me again.”

    Her dark eyebrows rose gracefully. “William John Edward Groves, III? What’s the matter with him this time?”

    I told her.

    “Maybe he’ll forget it.”

    “Maybe not.” I got a Coke out of the refrigerator and took an adjoining stool. “I wish I could change schools. I hate St. Bart’s.”

    “Mother and Daddy don’t want us in public schools,” Sophie said.

    “It couldn’t be any worse, could it? If the kids don’t like you, it’s no fun.”

    Sophie is someone other kids like, but she spends so much time playing the piano she doesn’t have time to do things with them. It never seems to bother her.

    “At least you have good teachers,” Sophie pointed out.

    “They expect a lot of me.”

    “That’s because you’re a genius, Joey. It’s why Daddy wants you at St. Bart’s. He wants you to live up to your potential.”

    I snorted. “He wants me to be a banker, like he is. I would hate being a banker.”

    “When you’re grown up, you can be anything you like.”

    “That’s a long time away,” I said, taking a swig of Coke. “In the meantime I have to dodge Willie, probably for the rest of my life.”

    “Why are you dodging Willie?”

    We turned toward Mark, who had just come into the kitchen. He’s fifteen and thinks he knows everything.

    I told the story again.

    “And you chickened out and hid?” He was incredulous. “What good did that do you, Joe? He’ll still be around tomorrow. Why didn’t you just face off with him and give him as good as he gives you?”

    “I can’t outfight him,” I pointed out. “He’s taller, heavier, and a better fighter than I am.”

    “So do the best you can, bloody his nose again if you can, and take whatever he dishes out. At least once he’s done it, he shouldn’t bother you any further. It would be over and done with.”

    “And I’d be bloodied and humiliated,” I said.

    “But if he’s going to get you anyway, why prolong the agony? Besides, if you stand up for yourself, people won’t be so quick to jump you.”

    “The only one wanting to jump me is Willie. And I’ll lose. Maybe if I stall him for a day or two, he’ll give up,” I said, knowing that wasn’t likely.

    “You’re such a birdbrain,” Mark said in disgust, “but I guess that’s appropriate for a chicken, right?”

    The evening didn’t get any better.

    Some nights Father isn’t home for dinner, and those are easier. Tonight he was there, and, of course, blabbermouth Mark had to tell him I’d hidden out to keep from having a confrontation with Willie.

    Father sighed. He looked at me in the way that makes it clear he is—again—disappointed. “Would you like to take a class in martial arts, Joel?”

    “No,” I said. I figured I’d really get pulverized in a class of kids learning to kick each other to death.

    “Your brother’s probably right,” Father said after a moment. “The sooner you face this other boy, the sooner you’ll put the entire matter behind you.”

    Easy for him to say, but nobody argued with Father.

    “You are growing up. You have to prepare for life as an adult male.”

    “I intend to write stories. Why do I have to learn to fight to do that?” I demanded.

    Father sighed again, more deeply. “Joel, you will have to live in the real world. We’ve discussed this many times. Writing may be fine as a hobby, but it’s unlikely to support you. A good steady job in a bank, working with all kinds of people, is going to be a necessity.”

    “There are people who earn a living writing,” I said, knowing I’d be better off to keep still, because we’d had this discussion before and I’d yet to win any points.

    “Not enough of them so you’d notice it,” Father said, helping himself to another slice of roast beef. “You don’t think it’s necessary to earn a steady paycheck, but if you don’t have one, you’ll soon miss the comforts you have now.”

    I wanted to yell that I didn’t give a darn about the comforts I had now; most of them were things I didn’t care about at all, except for the basics of food and shelter. I didn’t need to live in a penthouse or be driven around in a Cadillac.

    But, of course, nobody yells at my father.

    “Writing is a childish dream, Joel,” he said.

    There are hundreds of publishing companies that must pay something to the thousands of authors whose works they buy. Some books make the best-selling lists, and those writers do all right. Why didn’t he think it was possible for me to do it?

    The sensible thing for anyone to do when speaking to my father is to shut up, but I was stubborn.

    “I want to write,” I said, in a low voice but one that Father could hear.

    “Preparing for a lifetime job and writing for the pleasure of it are not mutually exclusive, you know,” he said.

    Mark put down his fork. “That means you should prepare for the job, and write for a hobby,” he explained, as if I didn’t understand English.

    At this point my mother intervened. “That’s enough about this at the table. I dislike mealtimes to be unpleasant. Sophie, we need to decide what you’re going to wear to the recital next week. The pale yellow is very pretty, I think.”

    Sophie groaned. “Mom, it’s so babyish! When am I going to have something new, something without ruffles and ribbons?”

    I was glad to have the subject turned away from me, but resentful of how insignificant my problem seemed to everyone else.

    After dinner, when Mark had gone to visit a friend down on the sixth floor and everybody else was reading or listening to classical music in the living room, I called Pink from the kitchen phone.

    “Does everybody think I’m a coward because I didn’t come out and fight Willie this afternoon?” I demanded.

    Pink got his name from his complexion and the pinkish gold color of his hair. I could trust him to be honest.

    “Well, I didn’t hear anybody say anything about that, but a few of them were disappointed. You know, like Willie’s buddies, Gene and Paul.”

    “It just seems silly and pointless to get beat up for nothing,” I said helplessly.

    “I don’t suppose your dad would let you change schools,” Pink offered.

    “Hah!” I gave a bark of bitter laughter. “Fat chance. Pink, I’m dead meat.”

    “Maybe not. Maybe something will happen, like he’ll break a leg or something before tomorrow.”

    And maybe it wouldn’t, I thought gloomily as I got ready for bed. Maybe by this time tomorrow I’d be dead.

  • Meet the Author

    Willo Davis Roberts wrote many mystery and suspense novels for children during her long and illustrious career, including The Girl with the Silver Eyes, The View from the Cherry Tree, Twisted Summer, Megan’s Island, Baby-Sitting Is a Dangerous Job, Hostage, Scared Stiff, The Kidnappers, and Caught! Three of her children’s books won Edgar Awards, while others received great reviews and other accolades, including the Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award, the California Young Reader’s Medal, and the Georgia Children’s Book Award.

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    Kidnappers 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I read this story with a group of reluctant reading 5th graders. They went from nonreaders to students who begged to read extra chapters for homework! The book is very fast paced and is able to grab the reader and keep them hooked. It was a great book to help teach drawing conclusions, inferencing, and connections.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I love this book because it's a mystery story. It's a fast moving book and it inspired me. Joey and Willie were enemies but at the end of story they become great friends!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I think somone should read it because it has a great ending. At the beginning it is slow moving,but while you're reading it gets better. Every night I read this book. My favorite character is Joey because he gets picked on like me. This book is the best book ever.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    It was a good book because it makes you want to read more and never stop. Also I liked that the main characters thought they did not like each other in the beginning.I also liked that they were really good friends at the end.This book was so good, it makes me want to get more of this author's books.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    When Joey accidentally elbows the school bully Willy in the face, Willy wants revenge. But when Joey hides from Willy, he's the only one who sees him get kidnapped. And no one seems to believe him. Joey will have to save Willy or who knows what could happen. The kidnappers wasn't a page turning book that will keep you on the edge of your seat kind of thing. It had many flaws, but it picked up a bit at the end. One thing that I would have to complain about is that it is a bit slow. The whole beginning Joey is trying to convince everybody about what happened. And no one thinks that he's telling the truth except his sister Sophie and his friend Pink. Even when he called the police, they assumed right away that it was a prank, which seemed a bit unrealistic to me. This book is also rather predictable. Besides one twist towards the end, I could've guessed what was going to happen and be correct. You can tell that when Joey gets mixed up with it and also gets held hostage that he will escape. You can tell that in the beginning that they were going to catch the kidnappers. The whole time you can keep guessing what will happen and be right every time. Plus, a suspense story should have lots of twists and turns. This book really only had one that I can remember. One of the only good qualities of this book is the ending. It is very ironic. One of the main characters that seems like a very nice person and you wouldn't expect at all to be evil is really with the kidnappers the whole time. If you were to know that one person is betraying everyone, you would never guess that it would be this one. Willo Davis Roberts put so much character development into this guy to being just a friendly chafer that you would never guess it would be him. Every time he picked up Joey from school, he'd say, 'Hey sport! How was school?' You'd never expect this surprise ending. Kidnappers has some decent parts and a good ending, but it's not the best suspense book I've ever read. If you're looking for something that will keep you up all night turning pages until a spectacular ending appears, then this isn't your book. If you're looking for a short and pretty good mystery then you might be interested. Overall, it was ok.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    This was very interesting because no one had believed this child even though he was telling the truth and the bully was the one that was kidnapped so he was bullyin others but may not have liked it when he got kidnapped and bullied
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    The Kidnappers was an awesome book because it showed the different perspectives of different people. It was also kind of saying that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover because you never know what might be happening to that person. It is an excellent book that will keep you flipping the pages one after another. This book will fill you with an exciting story that shouldn't be overlooked. This bone-chilling mystery should always be a favorite, just like it was to me!
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    it was good. it's a page turing type thing, but if u dont like adventure books then don't read it. it's a great story and an unexpected ending
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    This was a thrilling story. I would recommend it to all 4-6 graders.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    This book left me reading. I couldnt stop. this is a real mystery.