When Zachary Beaver Came to Town (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

( 99 )

Overview

The red words painted on the trailer caused quite a buzz around town and before an hour was up, half of Antler was standing in line with two dollars clutched in hand to see the fattest boy in the world.

Toby Wilson is having the toughest summer of his life. It's the summer his mother leaves for good; the summer his best friend's brother returns from Vietnam in a coffin. And the summer that Zachary Beaver, the fattest boy in the world, arrives in their sleepy Texas town. While ...

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When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

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Overview

The red words painted on the trailer caused quite a buzz around town and before an hour was up, half of Antler was standing in line with two dollars clutched in hand to see the fattest boy in the world.

Toby Wilson is having the toughest summer of his life. It's the summer his mother leaves for good; the summer his best friend's brother returns from Vietnam in a coffin. And the summer that Zachary Beaver, the fattest boy in the world, arrives in their sleepy Texas town. While it's a summer filled with heartache of every kind, it's also a summer of new friendships gained and old friendships renewed. And it's Zachary Beaver who turns the town of Antler upside down and leaves everyone, especially Toby, changed forever.

With understated elegance, Kimberly Willis Holt tells a compelling coming-of-age story about a thirteen-year-old boy struggling to find himself in an imperfect world. At turns passionate and humorous, this extraordinary novel deals sensitively and candidly with obesity, war, and the true power of friendship.

 

When Zachary Beaver Came to Town is the winner of the 1999 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

1999 National Book Award winner for Young People's Literature.

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Editorial Reviews

Deirdre Donahue
This book packs more emotional power than 90% of the so called grown-up novels taking up precious space on bookshelves around the country. Kimberly Willis Hot's When Zachary Beaver Came to Town will resonate with readers.
USA Today
Horn Book
In her own down-to-earth, people, smart way, Holt offers a gift...It is a lovely---at times even giddy---date with real life.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When "the fattest boy in the world" rolls into Antler, Tex., in a trailer, 13-year-old Toby's perspective can't help but change. In a starred review of this National Book Award winner, PW praised the "well-developed characters, all fantastic and flawed in their own ways, [who] add plenty of spice." Ages 10-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, September 1999: The summer of Toby's 13th year is full of changes. It's 1971, and his best friend Cal's big brother has gone off to fight in Vietnam. Toby's mother has left too, gone to Nashville to pursue her dream of becoming a singing star. Toby has been left behind in the tiny town of Antler, Texas with his quiet postmaster Dad, who raises worms. Toby has a crush on pretty Scarlett, but she has eyes only for Juan. The big excitement in town is the arrival of a trailer containing the fattest boy in the world—Zachary Beaver, all 643 pounds of him. This tale of Toby and Cal's growing friendship with Zachary is full of humor as well as sadness as Toby learns to deal with loss. It's beautifully and sensitively related by Holt (author of My Louisiana Sky), who displays a finely tuned sense of place and time. A rich and satisfying read. KLIATT Codes: J*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior high school students. 1999, Random House, Dell, Laurel-Leaf, 227p.,
— Paula Rohrlick
Library Journal
Gr 5-8-A humdrum Texas summer is transformed when Toby and Cal befriend a surly sideshow star, arguably "the fattest boy in the world." Holt deftly fleshes out her characters and expands their worldview beyond the borders of their small town. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Holt reinvents the coming-of-age story, breathing life into a quirky cast of characters that inhabits the enervated town of Antler, Texas. It's said that nothing ever happens in Antler, so the arrival of a trailer decked out with Christmas lights is news. Soon the townsfolk are lining up to peek at Zachary Beaver, world's fattest boy. A master at finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, the author peoples her town with a quiet postmaster/worm-raising father, aspiring country-singer mother, watchful sheriff, eccentric judge, town historian Miss Myrtie Mae, flirt Scarlett, and, at the center of it all, sensitive narrator Toby Wilson and his sidekick, best friend Cal. In the lazy days of one summer, Toby makes a good friend, loses his mother to the Grand Ole Opry, dances under the moonlight with heartbroken Scarlett, and tries to toughen up after the death of Cal's brother, who's been serving in Vietnam. Toby is an unusually strong narrator—awkward, earnest, and conflicted—who feels bad about a lie or simple wrongdoing. He nudges the lingering, Sunday-drive of a plot forward until, in the end, the gawked-at carnival boy in the trailer proves a most unlikely means of redemption. The events of the story combined may seem no larger than a pebble underfoot, yet the characters tug at readers, gaining steadily their attention and affection. (Fiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780606237611
  • Publisher: Sanval, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/19/2011
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: THIS EDITION IS INTENDED FOR USE IN SCHO
  • Pages: 227
  • Sales rank: 1,213,686
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Kimberly Willis Holt is the author of the many award-winning novels for young adults and children, including The Water Seeker, My Louisiana Sky, and Keeper of the Night. She is also the author of the bestselling Piper Reed series of chapter books and picture books including Waiting for Gregory and Skinny Brown Dog. When Zachary Beaver Came to Town was her third book and won a National Book Award for Young People's Literature. She lives in West Texas with her family.

 

Holt was born in Pensacola, Florida, and lived all over the U.S. and the world—from Paris to Norfolk to Guam to New Orleans. She long dreamed of being a writer, but first worked as a radio news director, marketed a water park, and was an interior decorator, among other jobs. She resides in West Texas with her family.

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Read an Excerpt

Nothing ever happens in Antler, Texas. Nothing much at all. Until this afternoon, when an old blue Thunderbird pulls a trailer decorated with Christmas lights into the Dairy Maid parking lot. The red words painted on the trailer cause quite a buzz around town, and before an hour is up, half of Antler is standing in line with two dollars clutched in hand to see the fattest boy in the world.

Since it's too late in the summer for firecrackers and too early for the Ladybug Waltz, Cal and I join Miss Myrtie Mae and the First Baptist Quilting Bee at the back of the line.

Miss Myrtie Mae wears a wide-brimmed straw hat. She claims that she's never exposed her skin to sun. Even so, wrinkles fold into her face like an unironed shirt. She takes her job as town historian and librarian seriously, and as usual, her camera hangs around her neck. "Toby, how's your mom?

"Fine," I say.

"That will really be something if she wins."

"Yes, ma'am, it will." My mouth says the words, but my mind is not wanting to settle on a picture of her winning. Mom dreams of following in the footsteps of her favorite singer, Tammy Wynette. Last month she entered a singing contest in Amarillo and won first place. She got a trophy and an allexpense-paid trip to Nashville for a week to enter the National Amateurs' Country Music Competition at the Grand Ole Opry. The winner gets to cut a record album.

Cars and pickups pull into the Dairy Maid parking lot. Some people make no bones about it. They just get in fine to see him. Others try to act like they don't know anything about the buzz. They enter the Dairy Maid, place their orders, and exit with Coke floats, chocolate-dipped cones, or curlicue fries, then wander to the back of the line. They don't fool me.

The line isn't moving because the big event hasn't started. Some skinny guy wearing a tuxedo, smoking a pipe, is taking the money and giving out green tickets. Cal could stand in line forever to relieve his curiosity. He knows more gossip than any old biddy in Antler because he gathers it down at the cotton gin, where his dad and the other farmers drink coffee.

"I got better things to do than this," I tell Cal. Like eat. My stomach's been growling all the time now because I haven't had a decent meal since Mom left a few days ago. Not that she cooked much lately since she was getting ready for that stupid contest. But I miss the fried catfish and barbecue dinners she brought home from the Bowl-a-Rama Cafe, where she works.

"Oh, come on, Toby," Cal begs. "He'll probably move out tomorrow and we'll never get another chance."

"He's just some fat kid. Heck, Malcolm Clifton probably has him beat hands down." Malcolm's mom claims he's big boned, not fat, but we've seen him pack away six jumbo burgers. I sigh real big like my dad does when he looks at my report card filled with Cs. "Okay," I say. "But I'm only waiting ten more minutes. After that, I'm splitting."

Cal grins that stupid grin with his black tooth showing. He likes to brag that he got his black tooth playing football, but I know the real story. His sister, Kate, socked him good when he scratched up her Carole King album. Cal says he was sick of hearing "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman" every stinking day of his life,

Scarlett Stalling walks toward the line, holding her bratty sister Tara's hand. Scarlett, looks cool wearing a bikini top underneath an open white blouse and hip huggers that hit fight below her belly button. With her golden tan and long, silky blond hair, she could do a commercial for Coppertone.

Scarlett doesn't go to the back of the line. She walks over to me. To me. Smiling, flashing that Ultra Brite sex appeal smile and the tiny gap between her two front teeth. Cal grins, giving her the tooth, but I lower my eyelids half-mast and jerk my head back a little as if to say, "Hey."

Then she speaks. "Hey, Toby, would y'all do me a favor?"

"Sure," I squeak, killing my cool act in one split second.

Scarlett flutters her eyelashes, and I suck in my breath. "Take Tara in for me." She passes her little sister's hand like she's handing over a dog's leash. Then she squeezes her fingers into her pocket and pulls out two crumpled dollar bills. I would give anything to be one of those lucky dollar bills tucked into her pocket.

She flips back her blond mane. "I've got to get back home and get ready. Juan's dropping by soon."

The skin on my chest prickles. Mom is right. Scarlett Stalling is a flirt. Mom always told me, "You better stay a spittin' distance from that girl. Her mother had a bad reputation when I went to school, and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

Cal punches my shoulder. "Great going, ladies' man!"

I watch Scarlett's tight jeans sway toward her house so she can get ready for the only Mexican guy in Antler junior High. Juan already shaves. He's a head taller than the rest of the guys (two heads taller than me). That gives him an instant ticket to play first string on our basketball team, even though he's slow footed and a lousy shot. Whenever I see him around town, a number-five-iron golf club swings at his side. I don't plan to ever give him a reason to use it.

"Fatty, fatty, two by four," Tara chimes as she stares at the trailer. "Can't get through the kitchen door."

"Shut up, squirt," I mutter.

Miss Myrtie Mae frowns at me.

Tara yanks on my arm. "Uummmm!" she hollers. "You said shut up. Scarlett! " She rises on her toes as if that makes her louder. "Toby said shut up to me!"

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Reading Group Guide

1. The theme of friendship surrounds every character in this book, but the reader sees Toby's relationships more fully than the relationships of any other character. Examine Toby's friendships and discuss how they affect him. Define friendship; explain what it means to have friends and what character traits you value in your friends. What traits do you possess that make you a friend to others?

2. Toby's dad tells him, "You are a lucky person if you go through life and have one person need you." (p. 195) Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? Give examples from the book and from your own life to support your belief about the validity of this statement.

3. People all over Texas pay two dollars to see Zachary, then make fun of him and ask him rude questions about how much he eats. Have you ever made fun of somebody or called him or her names? How did that make you feel? Has anybody ever made fun of you? How did it make you feel? Why do people make fun of others? What benefit do they derive from this? What is the Golden Rule, and how could it be applied to this situation?

4. Discuss the reasons it is so important to Zachary to be baptized. What are other religious or spiritual rituals? What do they have in common? Have you or has someone you know had the same feelings that Zachary has about a spiritual ritual?

5. Toby and Cal both suffer loss, but they handle it differently. What factors contribute to the way they deal with their grief? Do they go through the five supposedly normal stages of grief -- denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance? Have you or has someone you know lost someone important? Was the experience similar and did you share the same emotions? How do you think you would handle what happened to Toby and Cal?

6. Cal and Toby have no way of knowing that coming face to face with Zachary will forever transform their lives. How does their encounter with Zachary help them decide what kind of friends and what kind of people they want to become?

7. Almost every character in the novel has a dream. Toby's mother wants to be a singer; Toby wants Scarlett to be his girlfriend; Cal wants to get out of Antler; and Zachary wants to be baptized. What other dreams do these characters have, and how are Cal and Toby affected when they help Zachary realize two of his dreams? What dreams do you have, and what are you doing to work toward their fulfillment?

8. Through Zachary's appearance in Antler, the author shows several ways people learn to live with and to like strangers. What are some of those ways? Have you ever had an encounter with a stranger that changed your life? How have you dealt with new kids at school or in church? Have you ever been the new kid? How were you treated?

9. Even though they are best friends, Toby and Cal keep secrets from each other. Toby writes a letter to Wayne, Cal's brother in Vietnam, and Cal is furious with Toby when he finds out. Cal knows that Zachary has never really traveled, and when Toby finds out that Cal knew this and didn't tell him, he is angry. Why do the boys keep secrets from each other? Is it ever all right to tell a secret? Does keeping secrets hurt other people?

10. When Toby and Cal first meet Zachary, they think he is rude, selfish, and not worth getting to know. What changes their perspective? Why are they willing to take risks to help Zachary? Does Zachary appreciate what Cal and Toby do for him? Have you ever changed your opinion about a person after getting to know him or her?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 99 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(54)

4 Star

(22)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(9)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 99 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    Good but not the best

    I like this book. We read this book in school. The only complaint i have is that it is kindof rude and possibly affensive to those who are above the average wieght. I dont suggust you buy it if you planned on reading this to younger kids that yoi are trying to teach not to steriotype. If you want to have a laugh though i do suggest it. The book is way better than the movie :)

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted May 26, 2012

    Great book for anyone

    This book is great when you want an easy fast clean good read. A tween classic.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted March 9, 2012

    BEST BOOK AND MOVIE EVER

    YOU HAVE TO READ THE BOOK AND WATCH THE MOVIE IT IS SO WORTH READING AND WATCHING
    HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK I THOUGHT THAT IT WAS SAD IN SOME PARTS
    BUT YO WILL LAUGH AND ENJOY THE WHOLE BOOK D LOVED EVERY PAGE I CHOULD NOT PUT IT DOWN.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    When Zachary Beaver came to town review by book_worm91

    When Zachary Beaver came to town was a good book to read. It wasn't the best book ever. It had a great story and a good message. I finish it in three days. overall I recommened this book to everyone.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2007

    One of the best books I've ever read!

    'When Zachary Beaver Came to Town' is truly one of the best books I've ever read. It's the kind of book that really doesn't seem to be about much, but yet it really is about many things. No matter what part of the book I was reading, it kept me interested. I always wanted to find out what happened next. I usually don't like books like these but there was something different about this book. It was very easy to feel like I was part of the story. I can't pinpoint what it was about the author's writing that was so good, it just was. I find it hard to read anything else because I know nothing will be as good as this book. I have read many books with more adventure in them than you can imagine. However, this book was better. Maybe it was because something like this is easier to relate to because it actually can happen. It is sad, happy, funny, and everything else. I highly recommend this book. It is better than words can describe.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted June 6, 2012

    !

    I absolutly LOVE this book. And I am even a picky reader, so you will probably love it too

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 11, 2012

    Sad but funny!

    This book is great. I read it with my class and everyone loved it. I recommend this book!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted November 20, 2012

    Just not my kind of book

    I have been reading it in school (like the other 100 people that said that) and i am half way through it. But i guess its just me when i say that this book gets very very boring. I dont understand the main problem in the book or anything even related to that, it's just Toby living out his life and it has really just been bouncing from one random problem to another. I'm not trying to diss out anyone who likes this book i'm just saying that I don't like when zachary beaver came to town. If u agree with me, read some books by Karen Travis. She is a really great auther! :D

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2011

    When Zacbary Beaver Came to Town

    Slow in some parts.Overall it was pretty good though.

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted September 23, 2013

    Amazing book

    I loved the book. It was happy and sometimes heart throbing.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted April 2, 2013

    Adam

    This is an AWSOME book. My kind of book. I met the author and she is nice. Realy nice

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 20, 2014

     

     

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2014

    I know someone named Zachary

    He's in my class at school

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2013

    My name is Zach

    Im Zach but im not nearly as as big as Zach Beaver. I sort of like this book. Im in 6th grade.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2013

    Weird

    I like it i just dont get it though

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2013

    Granja.fatima@yahoo.com

    I love ths book ... btw add me

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2013

    Random

    Havent read book yet.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2013

    Yuck!

    I read it during school last year, but I dreaded going to that class, because of this book. I didn't like it, one but. Don't waste your time and money on this piece of literature garbage.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted March 15, 2013

    ?

    I tried reading this book.
    I got it in a book extange back in third grade i think.
    I didnt get that far before i quit.
    This is one of the only books i've ever quit reading. That makes me sad.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2013

    Stupid

    This made me mad. It ripped me off. I pressed buy and pressed read and it only gave me twenty five pages! I am so ticked off.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 99 Customer Reviews

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