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Saturday Boy

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Overview

If there's one thing I've learned from comic books, it's that everybody has a weakness—something that can totally ruin their day without fail.

For the wolfman it's a silver bullet. For Superman it's Kryptonite. For me it was a letter.

With one letter, my dad was sent back to Afghanistan to fly Apache helicopters for the U.S. army.

Now all I have are his letters. Ninety-one of them to be exact. I keep...

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Saturday Boy

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Overview

If there's one thing I've learned from comic books, it's that everybody has a weakness—something that can totally ruin their day without fail.

For the wolfman it's a silver bullet. For Superman it's Kryptonite. For me it was a letter.

With one letter, my dad was sent back to Afghanistan to fly Apache helicopters for the U.S. army.

Now all I have are his letters. Ninety-one of them to be exact. I keep them in his old plastic lunchbox—the one with the cool black car on it that says Knight Rider underneath. Apart from my comic books, Dad's letters are the only things I read more than once. I know which ones to read when I'm down and need a pick-me-up. I know which ones will make me feel like I can conquer the world. I also know exactly where to go when I forget Mom's birthday. No matter what, each letter always says exactly what I need to hear. But what I want to hear the most is that my dad is coming home.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Eleven-year-old Derek has been having a rough time, both at school and at home, since his helicopter pilot father returned to Afghanistan with the Army "eight months, one week, and four days" ago. Derek's mother is struggling with worried exhaustion, and his former best friend Budgie is antagonizing Derek at every opportunity. Derek relies on the comforts of his father's letters, his wild imagination, his favorite superhero show, and his rehearsals for the school play (along with his crush Violet), but when his deepest fears are realized, Derek is forced to navigate a tumult of complex emotions and reevaluate what he values most dearly. Fleming's debut skillfully depicts how the stresses of loss and other forces beyond one's control test the bonds of family and friends; Derek's relationship with his mother is especially honest and tender. The weight of the tragic, topical events is tempered by moments of laugh-out-loud humor and Derek's energy and resilience as he muddles through the uncertainty of grief. Ages 10–up. Agent: George Nicholson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (June)
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—It's been more than eight months since Derek, 11, has seen his dad, a soldier who flies Apache helicopters and is stationed in Afghanistan for another tour. They keep in touch through letters that Derek keeps in his dad's old school lunch box. He's read them so often he knows exactly which one to grab for each of his moods. Derek is a good-hearted kid who just naturally attracts trouble-he doesn't mean to, but he's always in the wrong place at the wrong time and often the victim. He's also impulsive and has a hard time staying focused, which adds to his problems. Budgie, who vacillates between being a friend and being a real pain, has something going on with him, but what it is Derek can't figure out. He and his mom have a loving relationship and are trying their best to take care of each other while his dad is away. Derek's life, although complicated, is not too bad, until the day he sees his dad on the news and his world falls apart. Fleming has done a superb job of not only making the characters believable, but also of keeping an underlying tension in the story. Children with parents who are deployed will find a kindred soul in Derek, and other readers will come to better understand what it's like for them.—Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC
Kirkus Reviews
Life can be rough when your dad is at war. Derek knows. Fifth grade is hard enough without landing in the principal's office. It gets even harder when his best childhood friend becomes his chief tormentor. It was Budgie's mom who found him at the bus stop one rainy morning and told him it was a Saturday, and the nickname "Saturday Boy" clings, along with every other classroom embarrassment. He just can't seem to keep his head down. But Derek is armed with 91 letters from his dad. He knows just the one to pull out when he's mad or sad or just missing his superhero sidekick. Debut author Fleming deftly balances the building tension of the wartime absence of Derek's supportive father against the trials of being bullied at school. Through Derek's first-person narration, readers are drawn to the likable boy, who reveals the tension caused by anxiety for a parent's safety. To escape his troubles at school, Derek imagines heroic adventures with his dad and misses the clues to developments at home. While he is surrounded by loving and understanding adults, the focal point of his peer interactions is Budgie, who plays a large role in unmasking the pressures of a family living with the sacrifices of war. Fleming wields a light touch with the story's pacing and a steady hand for hard reality in this tender portrait of a boy under stress. (Fiction. 10-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670785513
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile
  • Publication date: 6/13/2013
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 151,179
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Lexile: 710L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

David Fleming lives in the woods in Weston, Massachusetts, with his wife and two willful, boisterous sons. He graduated from Wheaton College with a degree in English dramatic literature and theater and now works for a landscape designer. When the ground is frozen, he writes. He has been published in Monkeybicycle, Stuff Magazine, and Wellesley/Weston Magazine and at beattoapulp.com. The Saturday Boy is his first novel.

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Read an Excerpt

SOMETIMES WHEN I CAN'T SLEEP, I stare up at it and pretend it’s a real helicopter, and me and Dad are in it flying top secret missions and battling the forces of evil to save the world. And we have cool code names and sunglasses and stuff. Before he left we hung the Apache helicopter model right over my head so it would be the first thing I saw when I woke up. That was a long time ago.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2013

    Awesome

    This is the best book in the world

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2014

    Good

    A lot better than i had expected.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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