From the Publisher
Praise for Markus Zusak
“The Book Thief will be appreciated for Mr. Zusak's audacity, also on display in his earlier I Am the Messenger. It will be widely read and admired because it tells a story in which books become treasures. And because there's no arguing with a sentiment like that.” New York Times Book Review
“Zusak doesn't sugarcoat anything, but he makes his ostensibly gloomy subject bearable the same way Kurt Vonnegut did in Slaughterhouse-Five: with grim, darkly consoling humor.” Time Magazine
Praise for Fighting Ruben Wolfe
“Zusak debuts with an intense tale about boxing, brotherly solidarity, and searching for self-respect. . . . Engrossing.” Kirkus Reviews
“Zusak's first-person narrative is electrifying. . . . Coarse and poetic at the same time, the power of Zusak's prose and vivid imagery will continue to reverberate long after the last punch is thrown.” Teenreads.com
Praise for Getting the Girl
“Zusak uses simple but poetically poignant language to convey Cam's inner teenage turmoil, confusion, and heartache. This highly recommended novel is a sad, funny, loving, and ultimately heartwarming coming-of-age story.” Voice of Youth Advocates
“The extravagant prose does work well in describing the relationship between Cam and Octavia, demonstrating the often-ignored fact that teenage boys also fall breathlessly and heart-stoppingly in love.” The Horn Book
Children's Literature - Laura Challenger
How far does brotherhood extend? This question lies at the heart of Markus Zusak's stories. Previous published separately, three novels have been combined into one book entitled Underdogs. In The Underdog, Cameron and his older brother Ruben are constantly battling each other, but are nonetheless close. Cameron wants to have a relationship with a girl and dreams of how he will treat her. He also is motivated to earn money and works with his plumber father on weekends, where he meets what he believes is the girl of his dreams. But Rebecca is not going to be his and life with all its family interactions and complications continues unabated as Cameron tries to deal with what life has dished out. Cameron's older brother, Ruben, in search of himself, is determined not to end up like his unemployed father. In Fighting Ruben Wolfe Cameron and Ruben seek dignity and respect as they encounter many hard situations that have no easy way out. Zusak's story is about family love and the justification of actions. Ruben gets into a fight at school when a classmate says something humiliating about his sister, Sarah. Perry Cole, a man who operates a boxing group, hears about the fight and wants to employ the boys. Ruben accepts, hoping to make something more of himself. Cameron agrees to join primarily because his brother does; however, Ruben has the skill, and Cameron has the heart. The last fight of Cameron's career is against his brother. Cameron realizes that for him to win against his talented brother, he must believe in himself. The boys eventually tell their parents about the large amount of money they have won, and the parents are ashamed. However, the parents attend the fight between the boys and feel proud of how the brothers have proven their love for each other. This story is a great example of brotherly love and respect between family members. Ruben's search for himself is commendable, but it is Cameron's constant support that makes Ruben's search and success possible. Getting the Girl is a sequel to Fighting Ruben Wolfe and it begins by leading the reader into the changing life of Cameron Wolfe. The youngest of four children, Cameron is suddenly faced with discovering the new feelings of being a teenager. He does not like who he is. He is not a person with a lot of friends, especially girl friends. Cameron begins to notice his older brother Ruben's attitude toward girls. Even though Ruben never dates a girl for more than a few weeks, he has no trouble finding girls who take an interest in him. Cameron's ambition is to find a girl whom he can treat with respect. Cameron has never had a girlfriend, but desperately wants one. He dreams of finding just the right girl, and then he meets Octavia when she begins dating Ruben. After they break up, Octavia shows her true feelings towards Cameron. Cameron thinks that his dream has come true until he gets into a fight with Ruben because of Octavia. Not wanting to break up a family, Octavia disappears, leaving Cameron at odds with his brother and without the girl of his dreams. At first this story appears to be a typical teenage novel, but it adds more depth by incorporating an idealistic sense of family. Unlike most teenagers in most books, Cameron respects and values his family. He actually grows closer to Ruben in the end by confessing his feelings for Octavia. Cameron additionally grows closer to his sister and other brother Steve. The story does not merely focus on Cameron and Octavia, but delves into Cameron's relationship with several people. This allows the reader to see several perspectives, instead of the viewpoint of only the main character. Reviewer: Laura Challenger, Jordan Long, and Marilyn Courtot
A three-in-one volume binds together Zusak's two later books about Cameron with his first, paradoxically the last to appear in the United States.
Before the prize fights of Fighting Ruben Wolfe (2001) and the complications with Octavia in Getting the Girl (2003), Cameron and Ruben Wolfe were plotting to rob dentists and exact revenge on their sister Sarah's ex-boyfriend while their mother continually cooked sausage and mushrooms in tomato sauce for meals. Attempting to break free from the monotony of his family, Cameron begins working with his father on plumbing jobs and meets Rebecca Conlon in the process. While Cameron's failed to engage in life so far, could Rebecca be the first reason to reach out? With this compilation release of The Underdog, the rough-and-tumble adventures of the Wolfe brothers are finally all assembled. Zusak's stunning use of language and rich character development are present, while the introduction of the family framework provides additional understanding for the sibling dynamic in the later stories. It's a treat to see Cameron's visions, which will develop into stories in later chapters, especially since the author brings such a strong sense of frustration and despair to those insights.
Appealing to fans and providing an entry point for fresh readers, this is a much-appreciated addition to the Wolfe brothers' canon. (Fiction. 12 & up)