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Small White Scar

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Overview

Dreams always have a price

Will can see his future stretch out before him. It's as clear as the plains that lead to La Junta and the first-place winnings at the rodeo. He will become a man, a cowboy with a life of his own. But his twin brother, Denny, follows, bringing with him the memory of that small white scar. Ahead lies adventure; behind, responsibility. And on the road between, Will and Denny will travel together—brothers united by blood....

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Overview

Dreams always have a price

Will can see his future stretch out before him. It's as clear as the plains that lead to La Junta and the first-place winnings at the rodeo. He will become a man, a cowboy with a life of his own. But his twin brother, Denny, follows, bringing with him the memory of that small white scar. Ahead lies adventure; behind, responsibility. And on the road between, Will and Denny will travel together—brothers united by blood.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
In 1940, on a ranch in Colorado, two boys come of age. The transition from adolescence into young manhood for the 15-year-old twins, one of whom is mentally retarded, is told with poignant honesty. Will yearns to separate himself from his more limited brother, Denny. Against his father's wishes, he sets out to ride to La Junta to compete in a rodeo. He is sure that he will win, both prizes and his freedom—freedom from a life spent looking after Denny. But Denny follows Will, reminding him that they are blood brothers, symbolized by a small white scar each carries on a finger. Will struggles with the pull of adventure, independence, and being on his own, which requires that he abandon the responsibility of looking after his brother. Where does true adulthood lie? Unexpectedly a family friend provides a solution and a lesson in alternatives. This novel is haunting and well-plotted. Each brother's voice rings true. The story appears simple but its message is powerful and universal. How can we be both our brother's keeper and true to ourselves? 2006, Joanna Cotler Books/HarperCollins Publishers, and Ages 10 up.
—Hazel Buys
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, July 2006: Will, age 15, has always been responsible for looking after his twin brother Denny, who has Down syndrome, but he's chafing to get away from their drought-stricken Montana ranch. He dreams of competing in the rodeo and becoming a professional cowboy, able to send money home to help out and to have new adventures. Will loves his brother but also views him as a burden, and when he sees his chance to run away he takes it. However, Denny is hot on his heels, and even a rattlesnake bite, a flash flood, and a fight with Will don't deter him from following his beloved brother to the rodeo. Denny's unexpected courage and their father's new appreciation of Will's maturity lead to new opportunities for both Denny and Will, and Will comes to understand how his caring for Denny has helped to make him a better person. This first novel, set in 1940, is by a Colorado author who clearly understands both rodeos and boys. It's a quick and engaging read that will appeal to reluctant readers and adventure fans alike. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
KLIATT
Will, age 15, has always been responsible for looking after his twin brother Denny, who has Down syndrome, but he's chafing to get away from their drought-stricken Montana ranch. He dreams of competing in the rodeo and becoming a professional cowboy, able to send money home to help out and to have new adventures. Will loves his brother but also views him as a burden, and when he sees his chance to run away he takes it. However, Denny is hot on his heels, and even a rattlesnake bite, a flash flood, and a fight with Will don't deter him from following his beloved brother to the rodeo. Denny's unexpected courage and their father's new appreciation of Will's maturity lead to new opportunities for both Denny and Will, and Will comes to understand how his caring for Denny has helped to make him a better person. This first novel, set in 1940, is by a Colorado author who clearly understands both rodeos and boys. It's a quick and engaging read that will appeal to reluctant readers and adventure fans alike. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2006, HarperCollins, 192p., and Ages 12 to 15.
—Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Since the death of their mother seven years earlier, Will, 15, has been responsible for his disabled twin. His desire to help on his father's ranch, ride off to the rodeo, prove himself as a man, and escape being his brother's caregiver is the pivot of the plot; the fact that Denny follows him, showing himself to be just as tenacious and stubborn as Will, drives the plot to another level. The unique bond shared by the boys is aptly described. Will is repelled by Denny and his needs, but he is also fiercely protective of him. He does get to the rodeo, and the description of his rides is exciting and realistic, bringing the arena to life. In the end, Will finally has a chance to talk to his father. Not all problems are resolved, but Nuzum leaves readers with the hope that both Will and Denny will be able to begin their lives as adults relatively unhampered by the past. The images of the stark 1940s Colorado countryside suffering from drought, and the wild animals that populate it, are clearly drawn with poetic turns of phrase. Characters, plot, and theme all combine to make a compelling story. Although Will is the narrator, readers also hear the voice of Denny through dialogue and through Will's projections of his brother's thoughts. Nuzum clearly knows her rodeo and she knows how to evoke a teen's ambivalent feelings toward a disabled sibling. A thoughtful, perceptive story, beautifully told.-Wendy Smith-D'Arezzo, Loyola College, Baltimore, MD Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Fifteen-year-old Will believes his abilities are wasted on his father's Colorado ranch, because his main responsibility is caring for his twin brother Denny, who is a source of grief, heartache and anger. In dreams, Will sees Denny as he could have been and himself as the imperfect one. Will believes his cowboy skills are his way out and plans to join the rodeo circuit and work on ranches between competitions. But when he leaves, Denny follows him. As they meet with adventure and danger, Will is torn between his love for Denny and his need to carve out his own future. A confrontation with his father finally leads to some real communication and some solutions. Place and time are important here, and Nuzum uses them wisely, as she weaves the atmosphere of cowboy life in 1940 with Will's coming of age. In Will she has created a multilayered character who searches for truth and right, and is not afraid to admit his flaws. (Fiction. 10-16)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060756413
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/30/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 965,987
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

K. A. Nuzum, the author of A Small White Scar, had an early career as a ballroom dancer before earning her MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College. She is the leader of a pack of five dogs, one husband, and two sons on a small farm in eastern Colorado.

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Read an Excerpt

A Small White Scar


By K. Nuzum

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 K. Nuzum
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060756403

Chapter One

It was close to midnight. The crickets sang loud and steady. The July air was so hot and heavy it made me sweat just to push each breath from my lungs. From my cot on the ranch house's screened front porch I picked out the single stars and constellations in the black Colorado sky that Momma had taught me when I was little.

The Northern Cross stretched its arms wide across the Milky Way. All the dimmer stars were washed out by the light of the round, white moon, but in the south, Vega still shone bright.

A coyote keened and wailed close by. I held my breath and strained my ears, trying to tell if it was the devil I'd been gunning for the last months. The one that chewed up my dog Lucille so bad I had to shoot her. I'd spotted him at least a dozen times, him and his stubby, damaged tail. I'd even fired a couple shots at him, but I was never close enough. Though he was always far distant, I felt like I knew him. I'd seen him hunt and knew he favored ground squirrels for dinner, but didn't care for their tails. He always gnawed them off and left them stiff and dry on the ground. His paws were narrow but thick-padded; his prints jumped out at me from all the other coyote tracks that crisscrossed the ranch. And I knew he was a loner; his tracks showed him always solitary, never witha pack, never with a companion. I was the only one in the wide world, I figured, who kept track of him, cared where he was and what he was up to.

The coyote's prickly voice joined with Denny's snoring across the porch; and I felt like I'd jump out of my skin.

Denny always snored. Most nights I had to get up and roll him over on his cot to make him stop. I never slept through the night.

I folded my arms behind my head and bent them so they covered my ears. I had figured up that if Denny had been snoring for fifteen years, snoring every night since 1925 when we were born, that meant I'd been tossing and turning for over five thousand nights.

No, sir, I never slept through the night. But it wasn't always Denny's snoring that woke me first; sometimes it was the dream.

That night I got in a good two hours of sleep before the dream woke me up. In the dream, it was me and Denny out riding. When we reined in we were far out on the prairie. It was late in the day, and the weather had settled in so I couldn't even see the mesa. No rock outcroppings. No junipers, no pinon pine. There was only Denny and me. I turned to remind him to keep the reins loose when he jumped down so he wouldn't tug on Scooty's mouth. His arms were too short, so he always ended up yanking on the reins when he got off, and that made Scooty back up, and then Denny would get his foot stuck in the stirrup and have to hop backward to keep up with her. Half the time he ended up on the ground, scraped and bruised and feeling disgusted with himself.

But when I turned, Denny was already down and waiting on me. And he was changed. His face wasn't all slack anymore, his eyes weren't small and slanted, and when I looked into them, I saw that he looked just like me, instead of like a cartoon drawing of me.

Finally, I thought, my real twin brother. This was how it was supposed to be. I was so happy.

I felt like a five-hundred-pound boulder had been lifted off my shoulders. This was what I'd always wanted.

I would keep looking into Denny's eyes and begin to see myself reflected there. I had changed too. My face was all lax, my eyes were tilted up. I had a big ol' grin spread ear to ear.

And that is when I woke up every time. And every time, my heart pounded in my chest, my breath so fast my head spun, and my cheeks burned from the hot tears running over them.

I pulled on my jeans and boots and eased the creaky screen door open. I stepped into the night and took a deep breath that filled me with relief.

I was alone.

Denny was asleep. He would not follow me.

My father was asleep upstairs and wouldn't tell me to go check on Denny.

Deep heard me. From over in the corral he gave a nicker. I pushed through the hot air to the rail fence. His light, ghostly form moved toward me, and as it drew closer, took on his regular, beautiful horse shape. He nudged his soft, whiskery muzzle into my hand and blew. The other horses wandered over too, thinking I might have food. They all ambled off again pretty quick. Except for Deep.

Deep and I were partners, companeros. We were about as close as a two-legged fifteen-year-old and a four-legged eight-year-old could be. We depended on each other. We liked the same things, too: speed, competition and freedom.

Deep's name was no accident. He was the deepest-bottomed horse there ever was; he had the endurance of three horses. He could outrun any in a short race and outlast any on a long haul. He was a quarter horse, a roan with a mane as black as pitch and a tail the same, except for a tuft of short hair at the base, which was stark, stark white. His flanks were the lightest gray with black and brown spots, like an Appie, but smaller. The spots didn't show up until he was almost three, then everybody tried to get me to change his name to Dice, but it was too late. He'd already shown the stuff he was made of, and he was Deep.

Continues...


Excerpted from A Small White Scar by K. Nuzum Copyright © 2006 by K. Nuzum. Excerpted by permission.
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.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2011

    A SMALL WHITE SCAR

    A boy named Will can finally see his future stretch out before him. It's as clear as the plains can be Will has decided to go to La Junta to win the first prize at the rodeo. Will live on a ranch in Colorado with his twin brother Denny as Denny and Will start to go to the rodeo a certain amount of miles away on horseback they had come up on the pond his mother had drowned in the pond was vanishing out of sight because of the hot boiling sun well Denny and Will jumped back on their horses and started on their journey together it starts to get dark and Will and his brother stop to make camp Will has Denny go to get some fire wood why he goes to get some food they sit at the fire with the deer that Will had shot when they were done they laid down and the next morning the went on their journey to La Junta the have arrived at Lu Junta Will gets ready and Denny goes to get a ticket for his seat Will is up Will ins up winning. This is a very good book all adults and teens should read. A boy named Will can finally see his future stretch out before him. It's as clear as the plains can be Will has decided to go to La Junta to win the first prize at the rodeo. Will live on a ranch in Colorado with his twin brother Denny as Denny and Will start to go to the rodeo a certain amount of miles away on horseback they had come up on the pond his mother had drowned in the pond was vanishing out of sight because of the hot boiling sun well Denny and Will jumped back on their horses and started on their journey together it starts to get dark and Will and his brother stop to make camp Will has Denny go to get some fire wood why he goes to get some food they sit at the fire with the deer that Will had shot when they were done they laid down and the next morning the went on their journey to La Junta the have arrived at Lu Junta Will gets ready and Denny goes to get a ticket for his seat Will is up Will ins up winning. This is a very good book all adults and teens should read. A boy named Will can finally see his future stretch out before him. It's as clear as the plains can be Will has decided to go to La Junta to win the first prize at the rodeo. Will live on a ranch in Colorado with his twin brother Denny as Denny and Will start to go to the rodeo a certain amount of miles away on horseback they had come up on the pond his mother had drowned in the pond was vanishing out of sight because of the hot boiling sun well Denny and Will jumped back on their horses and started on their journey together it starts to get dark and Will and his brother stop to make camp Will has Denny go to get some fire wood why he goes to get some food they sit at the fire with the deer that Will had shot when they were done they laid down and the next morning the went on their journey to La Junta the have arrived at Lu Junta Will gets ready and Denny goes to get a ticket for his seat Will is up Will ins up winning. This is a very good book all adults and teens should read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2009

    A Small White review

    12/9/09

    By K.A. NUZUM
    (Published by Joanna Cotler Books)
    Recommended age: 7-12

    Copyright 2006


    A Small White scar shows us an exciting adventure of Denny and Will. Denny is autistic and is struggling to keep up with his older brother Will. Will is sick and tired of waiting for Denny all the time and wants his own life. From their home ranch in La Junta, to the barren desert, to a rodeo, and even to a hospital, this" rope ringing" adventure brings tears to the character's eyes. Will and Denny learned that the force of their brotherhood is stronger than want or selfishness. Will tries to escape his childhood life but he than realizes that, wherever he ventures, Denny, his past life, and his past mother, won't be far behind.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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