Wing Nut

( 2 )

Overview

Twelve-year-old Grady Flood and his mom, Lila, have been on the road ever since Grady’s dad died seven years ago. When their old car breaks down, they find themselves stranded in rural Pennsylvania where Lila gets work as a cook and caretaker. There’s nothing out of the ordinary in that, unless you factor in her new boss. Old Charlie Fernwald, a skilled mechanic and bird enthusiast, is definitely out of the ordinary. In fact, if Grady’s not mistaken, Charlie is a certifiable “wing nut.” For the time being, Grady ...

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Overview

Twelve-year-old Grady Flood and his mom, Lila, have been on the road ever since Grady’s dad died seven years ago. When their old car breaks down, they find themselves stranded in rural Pennsylvania where Lila gets work as a cook and caretaker. There’s nothing out of the ordinary in that, unless you factor in her new boss. Old Charlie Fernwald, a skilled mechanic and bird enthusiast, is definitely out of the ordinary. In fact, if Grady’s not mistaken, Charlie is a certifiable “wing nut.” For the time being, Grady figures, he can help Charlie with his birds and maybe even learn how to fix a car engine. But before he can do either, something goes terribly wrong.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The story of a boy who finally finds a place to call home should resonate deeply.”—Kirkus Reviews

 

“Grady, Charlie, and Lila have sharp edges that reveal their individual personalities. Their emotions are heartfelt, and readers will be encouraged by the hopeful, upbeat ending . . . [A] satisfying story.”—School Library Journal

 

“A spirited, fresh treatment of the familiar plot of a homeless but self-reliant family finding permanence.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

 

“[A] well-told tale.”—Voice of Youth Advocates

 

“What will attract readers like martins to a gourd nest is the author's careful integration of bird lore and the unusual challenges of creating and maintaining a purple martin colony. A good book for reluctant boy readers.”—Booklist

School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Since his father's death seven years ago, Grady, now 12, has followed his footloose, attractive mom, Lila, from one shaky living situation to another, staying put only until her optimism turns to anger over some affront. Feeling her work at the Sunward Path commune is underappreciated, she and Grady are heading for New York when their junker car breaks down in rural Pennsylvania. As usual, Mom lands on her feet, accepting a position cooking for cranky widower Charlie Fernwald, a retired farmer who is, in Grady's opinion, nutty about purple martins-not martians as Grady at first believes. The elderly man is willing to take them on temporarily to fool his son into believing that he's being properly looked after. Lila is willing to play this charade, while slipping healthful veggies into Charlie's diet in hopes of winning him over to obtain a more permanent position. Grady appreciates his host's willingness to teach him about cars, but steadfastly refuses to go to school, secretly releases invasive house sparrows from Charlie's trap, and worries about keeping his mom from becoming romantically involved with the local mechanic. While there is nothing terribly original in a lonely boy and a cranky elderly man overcoming differences to find common ground, Grady, Charlie, and Lila have sharp edges that reveal their individual personalities. Their emotions are heartfelt, and readers will be encouraged by the hopeful, upbeat ending. Nicely integrated plugs for both Katherine Paterson's The Great Gilly Hopkins (HarperCollins, 1978) and the Web site of the National Purple Martin Association are woven into this simple, satisfying story.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Thirteen-year-old Grady Flood and his drop-dead gorgeous mother Lila have been on the move ever since he was six and his father, a mechanic, was crushed under a car. Escaping yet another intolerable situation, they begin their next adventure when their beat-up car breaks down in rural Pennsylvania. Mother and son find themselves working for the cantankerous elderly Charlie Fernwald, a bona fide "wing nut," a widowed purple martin fanatic obsessed with the birds' seasonal arrivals. At first, the ever-wary Grady dismisses Charlie as "crazy as a stinkbug on a hot sidewalk," but the old man grows on him, as do his beloved birds. Charlie sees Grady's potential and nurtures the smart but long-neglected boy in a way that Lila can't. Watching Grady blossom-and struggle-under the tutelage of his unlikely teacher is emotionally tumultuous but ultimately heartwarming. Young readers may not become as enamored with the details of purple martin life as Grady and Charlie, but the story of a boy who finally finds a place to call home should resonate deeply. (Fiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312384203
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 10/28/2008
  • Edition description: STRIPPABLE
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 249,727
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 740L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

M.J. Auch is the award-winning author of One-Handed Catch, Guitar Boy and numerous other books for young readers. Books were a part of M.J.’s life from an early age; her mother was a second grade teacher who always made sure there were plenty of books in the house. M.J. now lives on a small farm in upstate NY with her husband and co-illustrator, Herm, and their two dogs, Sophie and Zeke.

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Customer Reviews

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( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 3, 2012

    Great Story for Tweens

    I read this book because it was required reading for my son's summer reading assignment. I found it to be very, very well written and chockful of wonderfull life lessons. The main character could be your typical kid, although he has suffered mild hardships that make him a very strong young man.

    I was eager to learn how the story ended, so I couldn't put it down. That's always a testament to a well-written novel.

    I would recommend this quick read to young adults and kids alike!

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

    Posted January 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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