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Her name was Amanda Jane Keeling, but from the time she was two, everyone called her Rebel.
Rebel's first word was "No!" And it was downhill from there. As a toddler she resisted strained spinach and potty training. At five she refused to go to kindergarten. Now, at fourteen, she has toned down her rebellious streak somewhat, but whenever faced with a challenge, she still feels the need to confront it head on, despite the opinions or advice of ...
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Her name was Amanda Jane Keeling, but from the time she was two, everyone called her Rebel.
Rebel's first word was "No!" And it was downhill from there. As a toddler she resisted strained spinach and potty training. At five she refused to go to kindergarten. Now, at fourteen, she has toned down her rebellious streak somewhat, but whenever faced with a challenge, she still feels the need to confront it head on, despite the opinions or advice of others.
When Rebel and her friend Moses — the only boy she's ever met who can match her in both wit and height — witness some strange goings-on, instead of going straight to the police, they decide to investigate the matters themselves. A bizarre robbery, an open door in the middle of the night, muddy footprints...all these clues lead Rebel and Moses to more questions than answers. But still they won't go for help. Little do they know the danger that waits them....
When her grandmother decides to ditch assisted living and start a boarding house, fourteen-year-old Amanda Jane Keeling, or Rebel, signs on for the work crew, where she just happens to meet a teenaged boy taller than she is and to embroil them both in a mystery.
It was a beautiful, warm Seattle summer evening. Gram, who also enjoyed the high desert country of New Mexico, where she had lived for several years a long time ago, said one of the nicest features of Washington State was that having the Pacific Ocean surging onto its western coast and Puget Sound lapping along its inland waterways made the whole place air-conditioned.
Rebel had packed primarily to work at rather dirty jobs, but she was glad she'd come over to the new-old house in her best jeans and a pretty T-shirt that had colorful embroidery on it. She called out to Gram, who was doing something upstairs, to explain why they were leaving the house, and they started out.
After a momentary tangling of leashes -- Pookie was excited at being taken for a walk, and Tiger was reluctant to go at all unless dragged -- they headed for Forty-fifth, toward the university grounds. When Tiger suddenly decided to make a deposit on someone's manicured lawn, Moses whipped up the camera dangling from a strap against his chest and filmed the event.
Yechh, Rebel thought. What kind of movie is he writing, anyway?
"Can't think how this will be useful, but my intu-ition says don't waste anything," he remarked. "Trouble is, I forgot to bring my plastic bag. Maybe we'd better go where the property owners won't notice we're walking dogs."
"I have plastic gloves and bags, but I don't know how long they'll last with something that big," Rebel observed ruefully. "I'm prepared for Pookie-size stuff."
It wasn't her favorite job, but she was obviously stuck with it. Moses actually volunteered to scoop up after Tiger, but his handwas too big for the plastic gloves Rebel had stuffed in her pocket, and he was reluctant to do it without them.
"Okay, I'll be responsible this time. But this doesn't set a precedent for future walks," she was bold enough to say. She hoped there would be future walks. It was fun to walk along with a boy who was taller than she was.
It wasn't that she was embarrassed to be seen with a boy who was shorter. After all, this was the first taller one she'd ever encountered, and she enjoyed the company of boys. She had a couple of friends in school -- the kids sometimes referred to them as the "Bobbsey Twins," who though not related were never seen apart -- who barely topped five feet five. While Rebel towered over them, she often sought them out because they were so funny. She had speculated that they liked being with her because the difference in heights was hilarious to everybody else, and the Bobbsey Twins had chosen as their purpose in life to keep everyone around them entertained.
Dad had taught her that a person's size shouldn't have anything to do with accepting him or her. "If you're lively, intelligent, and fun to be with, you'll have friends. And look at it the same way when you choose the kids you hang out with. If you rule out the ones who are too short or homely or awkward or shy, you'll miss some great people. In fact those are likely to be the most loyal best friends you'll ever have."
She enjoyed the Bobbsey Twins, even as she felt clumsy and awkward herself when they walked through the school hallways with her towering over them. Probably Tim and Phil, their real names, were embarrassed too, and wished they could make connections with some petite and pretty ladies who would make them seem tall by comparison. If so, they covered it well by cracking jokes, smiling at everybody (even the ones who made stupid remarks), and refusing to be drawn into confrontations with mouthy antagonists.
"They're only fourteen," Dad pointed out. "They've got lots of growing years ahead of them. Who knows. They may pass you up in a few years. Even if they don't, you'll all grow up and realize that height doesn't really matter to anyone who cares about you."
Rebel did realize that now, but it was still nice to walk with a tall guy.
Moses was taking pictures of everything as they went: a couple of little kids playing in a muddy spot they'd manufactured with a dribbling hose next to the sidewalk; an old woman working with her roses; an elderly couple rocking on their front porch as they watched the foot traffic and nodded, smiling, at the amateur photographer.
"File footage," Moses explained as he panned the neighborhood of enormous houses. "Evening is a good time. These places look shadowy enough to fit into a horror film. I don't know what I might need in the way of background stuff, but these houses are perfect. I'm going to get a lot on the house Old Vi invested in. Inside and out. How'd you like to pose for a few shots inside? Mysterious, seductive poses?"
Seductive? Me? Rebel wondered, awestruck.
"There's a building one street over," Moses was going on, oblivious to the fact that he'd touched a sleeping dragon inside her, previously only a harmless worm that liked to act out her own imaginings, "that belongs to my dad. He used to have his office there, in the old days, but my mom talked him into moving downtown when he could afford it. He didn't want to sell it, so it still belongs to him. It's rented out now, has a couple of apartments upstairs and on the bottom floor is a neighborhood grocery. It belongs to Mr. Dolzycki and it has a great deli. You want to check in and see what he's got leftover today that he might give us?"
"Sure," Rebel agreed as she stopped to disentangle the leashes again. The dogs kept crossing over each other, and it was impossible to stop them as long as she had to manage both of them. Moses needed both hands to operate his video camera.
They had turned the final corner and Moses indicated a storefront about a block ahead, focusing in on it. "I think I can work the deli into my story, and maybe Mr. Dolzycki, too. He's a colorful character. Has one of those big old-fashioned, handlebar mustaches, to make up for going bald on top. He's a good advertisement for his own food; he's short and round, and his wife is short and skinny. She makes up the deli stuff and he eats it."
"Isn't it getting kind of dark to keep taking pictures?" Rebel asked, giving a sharp jerk on Tiger's lead.
"No, they'll just look spookier. Good atmosphere. What's going on up there?"
In front of the store an old lady went sprawling, sending oranges and canned goods across the sidewalk. A middle-aged man in shorts and a golf shirt paused to help her up and rescue her groceries, while a younger individual in jeans and a T-shirt ran past them, directly into the focus of Moses' camera.
Moses never stopped filming, though he did demand, "What's going on?"
Just before the runner reached them, Pookie took objection to him and pulled sideways, dragging his own leash and the other dog with him, directly into the fellow's path.
The runner sprawled, swore, and scrambled to his feet.
Appalled, Rebel worked to get the dogs straightened out, trying to apologize. Moses, still filming, stepped on Pookie's foot, eliciting a pained yip. Tiger, his mass finally meeting its match in the runner, let out a few howls of his own.
Before she got everything straightened out -- while Moses "helped" by filming the debacle -- Rebel was on the ground herself, learning about Tiger's weight the hard way.
"For the love of Mike," she protested, "stop taking pictures and haul your dog off!"
Moses finally lowered video camera and let it hang from its strap. "Sorry. Come on, Tiger, sit! Not on her, idiot!"
Perhaps in protest at being so insulted, Tiger made a soft moaning sound.
"Tiger! Boy, did Old Vi miss the boat when she named you!" Moses was pulling on the leash, getting him well separated from the smaller dog and relieving the pressure on Rebel's foot. She sat for a moment, rubbing it. "She should have named you 'Fraidy Cat.' For your size, you're the biggest sissy I've ever seen."
"I guess it's not broken," Rebel decided, getting to her feet. "The real idiot was that guy who ran into us. How could he not have seen two people and two dogs right in front of him?"
"I think maybe he was looking back over his shoulder when he plowed into us." Moses lost interest in the inconsiderate runner. "Something's going on over at the store. Mr. Dolzycki's standing on the sidewalk, waving both arms. Better get him, too. Might be something useable."
Rebel accepted Tiger's leash again so that Moses freed both hands to work the camera. "Looks as if he's mad," she commented as they moved in the direction of the combined convenience store and deli.
The old lady who had been knocked down was sitting on the edge of the curb, nursing an injured elbow. Her rescuer, the younger man in shorts, had gathered her oranges and canned goods but looked apologetically at the store owner.
"Going to have to get another paper bag," he said. "This was torn all the way down."
Mr. Dolzycki was red faced and perspiring. "Young punk! 'This'd be a good place for a convenience store,' my wife said, 'and we'll put in a deli and cater to college students. They won't want to cook. They'll like my cooking,' she said. But do they want to pay for it? No, it's easier to steal what they want! Lately they been stealing me blind!"
Moses looked back the way they'd come. "Is that what happened? The guy who was running and knocked this lady down, he swiped something and ran away with it?"
"He broke my eggs," the lady sitting on the curb said, indicating the spreading yolks on the sidewalk. "When you yelled at him to stop, Mr. Dolzycki, he ran right over me and made me spill everything."
"I'll get you some more eggs. You want I should call a taxi to take you home, Mrs. Snelling?"
"No, no, I'll be all right in a minute. Who was he? Had you ever seen him before?"
Mr. Dolzycki scowled. "They all look alike. How can anybody tell? Stupid clothes, ridiculous haircuts, or no haircuts, ponytails on fellows who ought to be grown-up men, rings and studs in their ears or their noses or their belly buttons! Thanks for stopping to help, Mr. Henderson."
The Good Samaritan nodded. "No problem. You going to call the police?"
"What good would it do? I can't give a description of him. Could you, Mother?"
Mrs. Dolzycki, a mere wisp of a woman next to her husband, had come to the front door to look out at them. "I don't know. He looked a little bit familiar, but no, I don't think I'd ever seen him before. Most of our customers are nice young people, Papa. They don't steal; they're even polite. This one was just...strange. He actually bought a candy bar, then all of a sudden yelped and demanded his money back. I was just putting the money from Mrs. Snelling into the till and he grabbed it right out of my hand and took off with it. But he didn't give back the candy bar. Hello, Moses. Are you here to collect the rent? I mailed it, as usual, but I was a couple of days late."
The Dolzyckis went back inside, Moses following while Rebel stayed out front with the dogs. One brush of Tiger's tail could clear a lower shelf, so she didn't think he'd be appreciated in the building.
From her seat on the curb, Mrs. Snelling was saying, "I never got any look at him at all. He just plowed right into me, and down I went! Could you describe him, Mr. Henderson?"
"Uh -- well. Not so very tall, not as tall as that young fellow." He directed a glance after Moses. "Just sort of medium in everything. I couldn't tell you the color of his eyes or hair. I was just so horrified that he'd knocked you down -- "
From inside the store, wafting on assorted tantalizing odors, came Mrs. Dolzycki's voice. "He was a great tall thing -- not as tall as Moses, but much taller than Papa. Dark, I think. Same thing they all wear these days: those blue jeans with holes in the knees and a T-shirt with something stupid written on it."
"It would help if you could remember what the something stupid was." Papa Dolzycki was scowling as he checked the eggs in a carton and prepared to take them out to his customer. "I didn't notice the holes in his knees. Or that he was particularly dark. Brown hair, I'd have said. Medium brown."
His wife regarded him soberly, her arms crossed over her chest. "So, do we call 911 or not? With at least three different descriptions, not much chance of catching up with him. What did he get away with? Only twenty dollars a candy bar."
"Not worth the hassle of explaining it all to the police," Papa Dolzycki decided.
Moses was still filming, holding the video camera to his eye. He paused over the deli counter. "What is that wonderful smell?" he asked, finally lowering the camera.
"We only got a few pastries left, and it's almost closing time. Why don't you and your friend" -- here she glanced at Rebel -- "take what's left in the case? We can't sell them tomorrow for fresh."
"If they taste as good as they smell, sure," Moses agreed. "Oh, this is Rebel. Her grandma's the one went in with Old Vi on buying the haunted house."
"First I've heard of it being haunted," Rebel observed. "It's not really, is it?"
"Sure looks like it could be," Moses said cheerfully. "I slept there last night, up on the top floor, and I heard things moving around. Breathing. Boards creaking. Stuff like that."
"The breathing was probably Tiger," Rebel suggested. "And all old houses creak."
Moses grinned. "You sleep in the attic tonight and see what you hear."
They accepted the bags of pastries -- one of meat-filled pies, the other assorted sweet rolls -- and left as the Dolzyckis were still exhorting Mrs. Snelling about taking a ride home rather than trying to walk.
"You're still pretty shaky," Mrs. Dolzycki told her, saying, "Good, good!" when the old lady gave in.
It had been long enough since she'd had supper that Rebel was ready to dive into the savory pies. The trouble was, trying to hold one to eat it while also juggling two dog leashes was virtually impossible.
"Look, you're going to have to stop making movies long enough for us to eat, so you can handle Tiger," she said, thrusting the leash at Moses. "What good are all these bits and pieces of ordinary things, anyway? What script are you following?"
"I'll be making it up, some of it as I go. Right now I'm just practicing, getting used to the camera, experi-menting with lighting, et cetera. I'll get some ideas from the ordinary things, just in case nothing extraordinary happens except in my imagination. My dad always said I have too much imagination for my own good, though, so something will occur to me."
It was probably a good thing that Rebel didn't know just how much help Moses' imagination was going to get, nor that she'd be involved up to her neck.
Copyright © 2003 by Willo Davis Roberts
Posted March 15, 2010
This book is the best book i eever read it is really fun I will recommed this to anyone I see which I did I recommed this book to my 10th grade class the fist month when school startedWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 18, 2008
Amanda Jane Keeling, 14, has answered only to the name 'Rebel' since she was two. When she was just a little baby, and such a stubborn baby she was, she would scream and cry until she got what she wanted. Not to mention she was, and still is, extremely rebelious. Her grandmother, sick of the confinements of assisted living, joins an elderly friend, Viola, in buying an old rooming house near the University of Washington. Rebel and Vi's grandson, Moses, are asked to help paint, clean, and get the house ready for roomers. Rebel, at 5'10', is immediately taken with the 6'6' Moses. Much to his father's dismay, Moses wants to write, direct, and produce films rather than enter law. He carries an old video camera around, inadvertently filming a young man as he is grabbing back a $20 bill after purchasing a candy bar at the local mom-and-pop store. This brief encounter sets in motion a nighttime break-in at the old house, a nearly missing Irish wolfhound, and the cracking of a band of young counterfeiters, and, in the end, the teens realize that they should have called on the police sooner rather than sleuthing on their own. Rebel is an engaging, independent character, and will appeal to middle school kids. Although the book starts a bit slow towards the middle, the mystery unfolds and is very suspensful. I liked this book. I thought it was interesting. It could have ended better. It could have also been a little less obvious. If there was a sequel, I would read it just to see what would happen next.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 2, 2006
Iliked this book. I thought it was intertesting but I could nave ended better and been a little less obvious, but if there was a sequel i would read it you know to see what happens b/w Rebel and Moses.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 4, 2005
This book was oh so predictable and the book's characters were so clueless that they couldn't even realize the obvious when the answer was apparent to the reader! Do NOT waste your time with this book as you'll only find disappointment.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 30, 2005
I expected something better from a good author like Willo Davis Roberts. I was drawn to the cover photo, so i read it. It was good at first, but it turned out being kind of odd. It could have ended better, like, saying something about Rebel and Moses dating or something like that, but i guess it was still pretty good.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 24, 2003