Out of the fog billowing from the regions of the Netherworld steps a gigantic, ominous figure dressed in black. A white, skeleton face peers from the long, hooded cloak draping his massive frame, and in one hand, he clutches a wood-handled scythe with a razor-sharp blade. It's … the Angel of Death, the American Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Champion! But one of the most popular wrestlers on Monday Night Mayhem is also Mark Baron, Jesse Baron's father.Jesse has just started at yet another new school, this ...
Out of the fog billowing from the regions of the Netherworld steps a gigantic, ominous figure dressed in black. A white, skeleton face peers from the long, hooded cloak draping his massive frame, and in one hand, he clutches a wood-handled scythe with a razor-sharp blade. It's … the Angel of Death, the American Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Champion! But one of the most popular wrestlers on Monday Night Mayhem is also Mark Baron, Jesse Baron's father.Jesse has just started at yet another new school, this time in San Antonio, and he dreads the moment when the other kids in his seventh-grade class learn who his father is. The reaction will be the same as it was in Omaha, Atlanta, Tampa, St. Louis, and all the other cities he has lived in. They will want to be his "friend" not because they like him, but because they are obsessed with the Angel of Death. When Jesse learns that one of the boys at school-one of his father's biggest fans-doesn't have a father, Jesse realizes that he has never made an effort to get to know his classmates. Could his automatic assumption that other kids are only interested in him because of his father be wrong? Is it possible to make friends, in spite of his father?Meanwhile, his parents' relationship is also suffering because of the Angel of Death's celebrity status. The constant moving from city to city, his father's extended absences while on tour with the ACW, and fans who clamor for autographs and photos even during family outings lead to continuous bickering. They have separated once before, and Jesse worries that his mother will leave his dad again.As Jesse negotiates all the usual middle-school problems-from bullies to first love-he can't help but wonder what his life would be like if his father weren't a famous wrestler. Wouldn't things be better if his dad quit the ACW? But would his father be happy leaving a career he loves? SELLING HANDLES:
· An entertaining young adult novel set against the backdrop of wrestling mania.
· Realistically deals with issues relevant to young people such as bullies, young love, and fears about parental problems and making friends.
Jesse Baron is a young boy who has moved to Texas due to his father's job. Jesse tries to keep his father's profession quiet as he begins attending Sidney Lanier Middle School. Unfortunately, his homeroom teacher announces who Jesse's father is on the first day of classes: "Jesse's father is the American Wrestling Heavyweight Champion, the Angel of Death." It is the beginning of a wonderful journey through the last vestiges of childhood. Through this journey we see Jesse confront the embarrassment he feels about his father's profession as well as his pride in the fact that his father is, after all, the best wrestler in the world. It is a journey of self-discovery, one in which unexpected events force Jesse to make flash decisions and stand up like a man. One of these decisions is to make a stand against the school bully who is harassing Sara, the girl with whom he has fallen in love. Jesse could easily walk away, he realizes, and avoid harm and pain. Yet, he comes to Sara's rescue knowing deep down that it is going to complicate his life. It is an often-told story, but Ray Villareal weaves the tale with such confidence and simplicity that readers will discover that courage and valor are often found in the most unexpected moments. This wonderfully moving novel alternates between humor, tenderness, and insight about what it means and takes to become a man.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-This story is written in a high-interest, low-reading-level style that makes it a perfect title for kids with reading-motivation issues. Seventh-grader Jesse knows that a lot of the other kids-and adults-consider him lucky. After all, isn't his dad the huge Angel of Death, one of the hottest wrestlers on TV? However, his life isn't as great as it sounds. His father is hardly ever home, his parents are fighting about how often he is gone, and Jesse has attended 10 schools since kindergarten because they've moved so often. Readers meet the outlandishly costumed mock-tough guys of the fictional American Championship Wrestling League, see what they're like in the dressing rooms, and enjoy the descriptions of their theatrical battles in the ring. Jesse explains how the matches are scripted and played up for maximum entertainment, although he still rightfully worries when he watches his father constantly getting knocked down and thrown to his knees. The story takes place in San Antonio, and there's lots of Texas atmosphere and characters mixing Spanish into their everyday conversations. Villareal's occasionally awkward prose sometimes strays from the way a seventh-grade boy would talk, but the book's flaws are minor, and its appeal to its intended audience should be a smack-down.-Walter Minkel, New York Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.