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by Martha A. Moore

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Matchit McCarty feels like a piece of junk. It’s not surprising, really. His father, who has always taken care of him, has left him with a woman named Babe who runs a junkyard. It seems his father is in love and, for the moment at least, he needs Matchit out of the picture. But what sort of picture can Matchit construct of himself—abandoned, unwanted, a


Matchit McCarty feels like a piece of junk. It’s not surprising, really. His father, who has always taken care of him, has left him with a woman named Babe who runs a junkyard. It seems his father is in love and, for the moment at least, he needs Matchit out of the picture. But what sort of picture can Matchit construct of himself—abandoned, unwanted, a bad-luck boy?

Babe, however, turns out to be a woman with a heart as big as Texas. She seems convinced that Matchit is the greatest kid on earth. Her junkyard is more than it seems, too. It’s home to a sculptor named Zebby who welds scrap iron into art. Then there is their neighbor, Sister, a taxidermist who is full of splintery affection. From this motley “family” Matchit will learn to create a new image of who he is and where he might be headed.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
After his father dumps him in a junkyard to be tended by its owner, Matchit, an 11-year-old "bad-luck boy," slowly gains confidence. "With its offbeat setting and upbeat moral, this story sends a reassuring reminder to young readers that everyone does matter," wrote PW. Ages 8-12. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
It's no joke. The place Matchit calls home is "smack-dab in the middle of Babe's Body Parts where the red-and-white sign says We Take In Your Wrecked Cars and Other Junk." Since Matchit's mother screwed up one too many times, it's just been him and his father. Now, while his father is vacationing at Mt. Rushmore with his sweetie-of-the-moment, Jewel, Matchit is literally dumped at the dump and left to fend for himself. "My brain says," Matchit tells us, "Boy, you been a problem since the day you was born." Matchit finds love and affection, however, where he least expects it�in the proprietor of the junkyard, Babe, in the taciturn sculptor who lives in an abandoned school bus, Zebby, and in a creepy taxidermist named Sister. While waiting for his father to reclaim him, Matchit explores the salvage yard, at one point rescuing an injured pigeon whom he names Dog. As Dog recovers from his physical wounds, Matchit begins to heal his emotional ones. The voice of Matchit is clever and insightful. 2002, Delacorte Press,
— Christopher Moning <%ISBN%>0385900236
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-In this coming-of-age story of a child struggling to prove his self-reliance, the young protagonist faces a summer among strangers as his dad deserts him to follow a personal dream. Matchit's life has been placed on "layaway." Sent to stay with an old acquaintance of his father, the almost 12-year-old waits for him to come back, remembering that years ago, his mother left and never returned. What the boy is lacking in his family, he finds in his new guardian, Babe, an eccentric, nurturing woman with a courageous heart of gold and a copy of How to Raise a Kid in Ten Easy Lessons. "I've never been a parent, but sure do want to try." Her junkyard home reflects the confusion of Matchit's past life and his innermost thoughts and fears. Dialogue echoes the customs, mannerisms, and simplicity befitting residents of a small rural town in Texas. In this story that is reminiscent of Under the Mermaid Angel (Delacorte, 1995), Moore has once again uncovered the possibilities of loving relationships in unlikely places.-Mary Elam, Forman Elementary School, Plano, TX Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sometimes all it takes is for one person to believe in you, and Matchit finds that person in an unlikely place, an automobile junkyard. Abandoned by his mother when he was just a baby, Matchit has been raised by a disinterested and irresponsible father, leaving him feeling angry and worthless. His father's latest scheme finds Matchit left at the junkyard to stay with Babe, while he travels halfway across the country with Jewel, his new girlfriend. Babe immediately takes Matchit in, treating him as if he is the smartest and most talented boy in the world. Confused, Matchit initially resists the attention, but odd friendships with a pigeon, the local junkyard artist, and a taxidermist slowly help Matchit to defeat the voices in his head, leaving him with a sense of hope for the future. Desperate for love but scarred by his past, Matchit's rage and sorrow are palpable as he acts out against anything or anyone that tries to get close to him. Glimpses at his internal dialogue include the reader in Matchit's personal struggle as he attempts to overcome years of emotional abuse to find the one thing that he cannot bear to lose-himself. Successfully powerful without being didactic. (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.36(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.52(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

it is eight o'clock in the morning.

I'm standing at the bathroom door, hoping and trying to change my daddy's mind. He leans across the sink in his new black Wranglers. His brand-new Garth Brooks shirt sits on the toilet seat, still folded in the package.

I've been thinking about what to say, and now it's time. I take a deep breath, and my words march out of my mouth like they think they're the Pledge of Allegiance.

"If you let me go with you, I promise to mind you. I promise I won't complain. I'll do whatever you say. And I'll be nice to Jewel. I promise."

He don't say nothing.

Jewel is my daddy's girlfriend. She's what made him lose every crumb of sense he ever had.

I watch him squeeze a blob of gel on his palm, rub his hands together, then wipe it through his hair, making the black even shinier. He combs it straight back. It's like somebody on TV, but I forget who.

"I won't talk back, neither."

Still, nothing.

"If we have a flat, I'll change it. I'll check the oil and change it, too. I'm the one who knew we needed an alternator. Remember when the truck wouldn't start smooth and it was making that zrrrrr . . . zrrr . . . zrrrrrr sound every time you turned the ignition? I said I bet it's the alternator, and Jake thought it was the starter. Remember, I was right?"

He sets his comb down on the edge of the sink and talks to my reflection in the mirror.

"Match, you can't go and that's that." He turns on the faucet and washes his hands and dries them on a towel. "You'll just have to stay at Babe's a couple of days. When Jake gets back, you can go tohis place."

"I'll run away you make me stay with Jake. I mean it."

Jake is Daddy's first cousin, which makes him my second, but I don't claim him as any kind of kin. I call him Jake the Jerk. He stomps around in his alligator boots trying to make the ground think he's important. Jake is grown, but he thinks it's fun to tease kids, scare them, too.

He's got this fish-boning knife. It's so sharp it can cut a hair in half. One night real late when I had to stay with him, he snuck into the kitchen where I sleep at his place. I was on my cot inside my sleeping bag, not thinking about nothing. All the sudden, he zipped me up, head and all. Then he poked me with that knife. Scared the pee out of me. Jake, he loves jokes as long as they're not on him.

"I want to go with you," I beg Daddy.

"Don't be stubborn, Matchit," Daddy says. He's holding his razor at the edge of one of his sideburns again, trying to make a perfect straight line across the bottom.

"School's out, I won't be getting into no fights. I won't get in trouble. Please, Daddy."

"It's not the fights. You know why you can't go." He puts his face up close to the mirror. "These look even to you, Match?"

I don't answer that question, and he gives me a look that says Jewel comes first. That I'll always be around, but she might not be.

The way I figure it is I had dibs on him before she did. I know he won't listen, though.

He says, "Look, your birthday's coming up. I'll be back way before then. If for some reason I'm not back, I'll send for you. Tell you what, you can ride on an airplane. First class. I'll tell them to bring you all the peanuts and Cokes you want, pizza, too, if you want. Maybe I could talk to the captain, see if you could go in the cockpit and watch him fly the plane. How would you like that?"

My daddy adds on promises like somebody laying bricks without any cement. He keeps on going like he don't know when to stop.

"I'll get you that bike you wanted," he says. "One of those color electronic pocket games, too, if you want. You know I wouldn't miss your birthday for a million dollars."

He picks up his shirt from the top of the toilet seat, takes it out of the package, unfolds it, and slides his arms in real careful like he's afraid to touch anything. He unzips his pants and tucks the shirttail in smooth all the way around on top of his underwear. He wants to look good for Jewel.

"Start getting ready," he tells me.

I have to look good, too, not for Jewel, but for Babe, a woman I don't even know, a woman my daddy is hoping like crazy will want me to stay.

First I have to take a bath with Lifebuoy deodorant soap and splash Old Spice on my neck. I have to clip my fingernails and put on new underwear, new jeans, a new button shirt, and never-been-worn socks. When I get finished, I feel too new and too stiff. I feel like I'm wrapped in a Band-Aid.

Daddy slaps water on top of my hair and parts it on the side. He steps back and gives me the once-over.

"You're looking good, boy."

I don't say nothing.

My heart is squeezing up tight against my new shirt. It's making a whole lot of noise.

The only thing is, nobody can hear it but me.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Martha Moore teaches English in the Arlington, Texas, Independent School District. This is her third novel.

From the Hardcover edition.

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