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Zazoo, almost 14, lives with her adoptive grandfather, who brought her from Vietnam to his village in France when she was just two years old. They have many things in common, including a love of poetry—and a tangled history that Zazoo is only now beginning to understand. She has always known that Grand-Pierre was involved in World War II, but not what that meant, and she never imagined that he had fought in Vietnam.A boy who rides his bicycle into her village one morning asks a question from which many stories ...
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Zazoo, almost 14, lives with her adoptive grandfather, who brought her from Vietnam to his village in France when she was just two years old. They have many things in common, including a love of poetry—and a tangled history that Zazoo is only now beginning to understand. She has always known that Grand-Pierre was involved in World War II, but not what that meant, and she never imagined that he had fought in Vietnam.A boy who rides his bicycle into her village one morning asks a question from which many stories begin to unfold. The bicycle boy, Marius, and the middle-aged local pharmacist turn out to have surprising connections with Zazoo and Grand-Pierre. With the help of new and old friends, Zazoo makes the bittersweet discovery that the past isn't over, but that it informs and colors the present and the future. Richly textured and beautifully written, Zazoo is an unusual and engrossing novel.

Author Biography: Richard Mosher lives in St. Paul, Minnestota. He is the author of one previous novel for young people, The Taxi Navigator, published by Putnam. This is his first book for Clarion.

Amid old secrets revealed and rifts healed, a thirteen-year-old Vietnamese orphan raised in rural France by her aging "Grand-Pierre" learns about life, death, and love.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The quiet banks of a French canal, where this book is set, perfectly matches the reflective quality of Mosher's (The Taxi Navigator) resonant prose. With exquisite tenderness, the author explores the revelations of a Vietnamese-born girl raised by her adoptive grandfather, Grand-Pierre. A chance meeting with a mysterious Parisian boy sets 13-year-old Zazoo on a course to excavate secrets from the "Awful time," when Nazis invaded France. The horrors over a half-century ago echo the disturbing changes Zazoo now experiences, like the chronic ache in her chest and Grand-Pierre's failing health. Metaphors from nature the deceptively calm river, a "sad gray cat" from long ago and an ancient owl symbolize connections between past and present and emphasize the dull pain of longing still lingering with Grand-Pierre and other villagers. Despite the novel's somber undertones, there is a promise of rebirth as love, compassion and forgiveness help heal old wounds. The author's intelligent yet accessible wordplay on French vocabulary also leavens the narrative. Readers will be swept away by the evocative images and emotive scenes in this story, offering a mix of bitter and sweet. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
Set on a French canal, this novel stars a Vietnamese-born girl who excavates secrets from when the Nazis invaded France. "Readers will be swept away by the evocative images and emotive scenes in this story, offering a mix of bitter and sweet," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 13-up. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
A Vietnamese girl, named Zazoo by her adopted grandfather when he brought her to his village in France, tells about meeting a boy from Paris with a strange tale of long-ago love, and about getting acquainted with Felix Klein, the Jewish pharmacist, who lost everyone he loved in that Awful Time (WW II) when the village was occupied by the Nazis. Now Zazoo's grandfather Grand Pierre and Monsieur Klein are elderly men who have not talked to one another for 45 years, filled with guilt and hatred. Grand Pierre is recognized as a hero in his village, but he knows that being a hero means that he was a killer, and he has spent many long years since the war consumed by guilt. His adoption of Zazoo, whose parents were blown up by an abandoned landmine in Vietnam, is part of his healing process. Zazoo slowly gets the story worked out, piecing together what she hears from Grand Pierre, from Monsieur Klein, and from the boy Marius who has come to the village searching for happiness for his own grandmother. This is an unusual story, especially for YAs, but one that will appeal to readers who enjoy the beauty of a poetic story told about love growing and love lost. Zazoo offers the unique voice of a young girl awakening to her own love for Marius as she finds out about the tragic losses her beloved grandfather and Felix Klein endured. The setting couldn't be more romantic, with Zazoo and her grandfather living on a canal, tending the lock, and Zazoo spending most of her time on the water, on her boat that she and her grandfather built, or swimming underwater amid the reeds and lilies, and waiting for the ice to form in the winter so she can skim on the water's surface with her ice skates. Zazoo is awise girl, perhaps because of being so close to her grandfather, who now needs her help more and more as his memory fades—he even forgets where to pee. The tragic death of her own parents, far away in Vietnam, where she was born but which she cannot remember, and being an Asian girl in a French village where no one else is Asian, cause her to be isolated from everyone but her grandfather. This feeling of otherness is one reason why Marius, who thinks she is beautiful, becomes so important in her life, as does Monsieur Klein, who understands that she needs support as her grandfather becomes more and more infirm. Many YA readers will need some introduction to Zazoo, especially if the French setting and the multilayered nature of the storytelling seem too challenging at first. It may take several chapters before the novel's many enticements capture the reader. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, Houghton Mifflin, Clarion, 255p., $15.00. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; September 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 5)
From The Critics
Zazoo tells the story of a thirteen-year-old girl on the brink of womanhood who questions not only her past, but also the history surrounding her adoptive grandfather, the village pharmacist who loathes him, and a boy on a bike whose one question about the pharmacist becomes the catalyst that unearths the connections between them all. After her Vietnamese parents were killed by a land mine, the two-year-old Zazoo was brought to a small French village by her adoptive grandfather, Grand-Pierre. She and Grand-Pierre live in an old stone mill between a canal and a river and have a loving relationship filled with shared poetry and companionable outings. Raised next to water, Zazoo finds solace in swimming swiftly through the reeds and rushes. It is during one of her early morning swims she meets Marius, a strange boy on a bike, who asks about Monsieur Klein, the village pharmacist. Zazoo, who is on friendly terms with the old man, agrees to investigate without revealing the boy. The two delight in each other's differences—he, calm and quiet unlike most other boys and she, an independent water goddess with lovely dark eyes. And as gentle as the water that flows down the river, so does their burgeoning long-distance relationship develop, consisting of poetic messages scrawled on stiff postcards. Once Zazoo asks Monsieur Klein about his past, one question leads to another. Slowly, the mysteries of war, love, and loss are unraveled. To her surprise, Zazoo discovers that Monsieur Klein and her grandfather have been locked in a forty-eight-year-old grudge. And just as she learned the way of water, Zazoo dives and resurfaces into their pasts and present, learning when to hold back and when to keepasking. With her persistence, love, and compassion, as well as the exciting story of Marius's connection to Monsieur Klein, Zazoo brings old enemies together and helps heal deep wounds. Zazoo, written by Richard Mosher, is incredibly poignant. For all its provincial charm, it addresses very real issues of adoption, World War II and the Vietnam war, love affairs, misunderstandings, the stubborness and sorrow of old men, and the sometimes difficult experience of a Vietnamese French girl searching for her place in the world. The novel is also gorgeously written. Mosher paints Zazoo's world with a gentle beauty and sprinkles it with poetry. But what truly distinguishes this novel from others is its emphasis on dialogue. Mosher allows the characters to tell their stories with quiet dignity, patterned on the rhythms of French. Their interactions are loving and graceful, even in the hardest of conversations, and what they say shows their true hearts. Mosher has created an intimate world in Zazoo. Even the way the book is designed—with chapters starting on either side of the page, almost like a journal—aids in the feeling of diving deeper and deeper into a well of secrets that need to be told before it's too late. It's impossible to put down Zazoo and walk away untouched because the story lines whisper like the murmur of water. This is the kind of book to be read again and again because of the many jewels tucked between its pages. Although Zazoo is a very real story of human pain, it is also a story of hope, healing, and reconciliation. 2001, Clarion Books, 224 pages, Coughlin
Children's Literature
Zazoo is a Vietnamese orphan who is being raised in France by her adoptive grandfather, known to Zazoo and the townspeople as Grand-Pierre. Zazoo, rescued from Vietnam at age two and now on the cusp of womanhood, has had an apparently idyllic childhood with Grand-Pierre. But her happiness is now threatened by Grand-Pierre's growing senility, her growing loss of innocence and the slowly emerging truths about Grand-Pierre's and her own past. Part love story and part wartime horror story, this novel, told in first person by Zazoo, is a compelling read. Zazoo is a fascinating, multi-dimensional character who is equally disquieted by her changing physique and the town's wartime secrets and tragedies that have been lurking just below the surface of her awareness. More reflective than action-packed, this book will appeal to readers who are ready to take life's bitter with its sweet. 2001, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin, $16.00. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Judy Katsh
Zazoo, a thirteen-year-old Vietnamese girl living in France, knows very little about her history. She knows that her parents were blown up in Vietnam and that her Grand-Pierre brought her back with him to France when she was just two years old. It takes Marius, a young man she happens to meet, to arouse her curiosity. He asks if her old village's pharmacist is or ever was married, a question she cannot answer. With that one odd question, she realizes how much she does not know about the people in her life, including Grand-Pierre, and sets out to learn about their pasts. From the very first paragraph, Mosher's vivid imagery makes Zazoo's world come to life. Zazoo's reaction to puberty and her desperate desire for doodoons (breasts) are right on target. Sometimes childish but with adult responsibilities, Zazoo is the perfect characterization of a young teen. This book is her tale, a romance with a little history thrown in, and it is told well. Logical but not predictable, the story unravels as Zazoo slowly learns of her Grand-Pierre's past and of how this mysterious young man and the village pharmacist somehow are tied to it. Although the characterization is well done—each person in the story is fully developed, showing both good and bad traits—the conflicts are resolved too easily, as seen by the quick reconciliation of two men who had not spoken for decades. Despite this weakness, Zazoo's story is still a worthy addition to any library collection. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, Clarion, 256p, $16. Ages 11 to 15.Reviewer: Jennifer Rice
From The Critics
Almost 14 years old, Zazoo is really "French on the inside" and "Vietnamese on the outside." Adopted by an older WWII French war hero, after a land mine killed her natural parents, Zazoo has never questioned anything about her life with her new father, Grand Pierre. She knows that her father fought in WWII, but not in Vietnam. Suddenly, a strange boy riding a bicycle into her village one morning asks a question that causes her to change her views of the people she's known all her life. As Zazoo struggles to reconcile the actions of her friends and family during WWII, the Vietnam War, and their life now, she reveals three love stories at differing stages, one of them her very own. Woven in and around the story is the healing property of nature and art. Zazoo and Grand Pierre's shared affinity for water and poetry pulls them together to form a tight and loving bond that enables her to cope with her father's eventual advancing age and memory loss. This book's tender strength rests in how the author, Richard Mosher, manages to take seemingly unconnected incidents and interweave them into one meaningful and beautiful whole. As Zazoo discovers, the past is never over; it simply informs and colors the present and the future. Genre: Vietnam War/Family Relationships 2001, Clarion Books, 256 pp., $16.00. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Mariana Van Meter; Scottsdale, Arizona
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-Brought from her Vietnamese homeland when she was a toddler, 13-year-old Zazoo lives with her adoptive grandfather in France. Their home is an old, stone mill and together they work as lockkeepers on the nearby canal. From the girl's earliest memories, Grand-Pierre has composed poetry with her. Zazoo swims late into the autumn and she loves exploring the local waters in a boat the old man has made for her. Just as soon as the ice is set, they skate by moonlight on the canal. However, Grand-Pierre is undeniably slowing down and with his memory failing, Zazoo has assumed the role of a caregiver. She listens in the night to steer him away from the closet when he needs the bathroom and she spends hours with him, gazing out onto the canal, reminding him of the poems they once recited together. During an early-morning swim, Zazoo meets Marius, an intriguing 16-year-old stranger who questions her about the village pharmacist. The girl befriends the cultured and kindly Monsieur Klein, who holds the key to unlocking the hidden conflicts of her grandfather's younger years. Considered a hero of the Resistance, Grand-Pierre knows the folly of such labels. His story of trauma and loss unfolds through Zazoo's gentle questions and through her growing friendship with Monsieur Klein. As she sorts through the emotions that past tragedies resurrect, she also holds out hope for future meetings with Marius. Zazoo is a beautiful and lyrical novel, with poetry woven throughout. It is a story of love, devotion, and unwavering commitment that bridges generations and cultures.-Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A slow and almost dreamlike exploration of the myriad ways that the past-especially a cataclysmic past-informs the present. Zazoo, almost 14 at the opening, was adopted from Vietnam at the age of two and lives in an old mill by a French canal with the man she calls Grand-Pierre; he's the lock-keeper. As Grand-Pierre's memory fades, a mysterious and attractive young man bicycles into Zazoo's life, asking questions. Soon Zazoo finds herself probing the past that created her Grand-Pierre, M. Klein, the elderly Jewish pharmacist who alone among the villagers shows no love for Grand-Pierre, and herself, orphaned by a landmine in a later war. Mosher's (The Taxi Navigator, 1996) sense of setting is luminous, and the descriptions of life along the canal evoke Wind in the Willows in their watery beauty. The slow revelation of the many intertwined personal histories is truly elegant, and the several love stories that emerge are almost painfully romantic. Zazoo's voice is honest and distinct as she tells her story; the secondary characters develop with real three-dimensional complexity as well. This is a story of memory and contemplation, not action, with most of the elements unfolding slowly over the course of a year through dialogue and reminiscence. It is perhaps over-constructed in its piecing together of the various plot elements and its drive to tie them up neatly by the end, but patient readers will find themselves forgiving this and the slow pace in their involvement with the language and the characters' evolving relationships, particularly the glorious symbiosis achieved by Zazoo and her Grand-Pierre. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
A slow and almost dreamlike exploration of the myriad ways that the past—especially a cataclysmic past—informs the present. . . .The slow revelation of the many intertwined personal histories is truly elegant, and the several love stories that emerge are almost painfully romantic. Zazoo's voice is honest and distinct as she tells her story; the secondary characters develop with real three-dimensional complexity as well. This is a story of memory and contemplation, not action, with most of the elements unfolding slowly over the course of a year through dialogue and reminiscence.
Kirkus Reviews with Pointers

From the very first paragraph, Mosher's vivid imagery makes Zazoo's world come to life. . . .This book is her tale, a romance with a little history thrown in, and it is told well.
VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

Zazoo is a beautiful and lyrical novel, with poetry woven throughout. It is a story of love, devotion, and unwavering commitment that bridges generations and cultures.
School Library Journal, Starred

A lyrical book about memory and living with loss.
SLJ Best Books of the Year

Readers will be swept away by the evocative images and emotive scenes in this story, offering a mix of bitter and sweeet.
Publishers Weekly, Starred

[T]his finely crafted novel, told in Zazoo's authentic first-person narrative, speaks to more than one message; it also evokes the quiet passage of the seasons and the joys of friendship. A novel with a big message well told through the smallest details.
Booklist, ALA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807208403
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/1/2004
  • Format: Other
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Age range: 11 - 15 Years

Meet the Author

Richard Mosher was born in India and raised in upstate New York. When he was fifteen, he spent the year attending a French boarding school and hitchhiking around Europe during vacations. A graduate of Antioch college, Mr. Mosher is also the author of the novel The Taxi Navigator.

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Read an Excerpt

1 A New Look at How People Really Solve Drinking Problems If your best friend turned to you for advice about a drinking problem, what would you say? The automatic reaction of most people, nonprofessionals and treatment specialists alike, would likely be "Get yourself to AA." But is this truly the best response for that individual — is it the only solution? We've all heard so many things about recovery, but are they really true?

To find out how people whose lives have been troubled by alcohol have overcome their difficulties, I decided to turn to the foremost experts — those who have actually done it, people who have mastered their former alcohol problems in different ways.* I wanted to determine exactly what these "masters" did — what specific strategies they used — to get sober and stay sober. My call for information was answered by hundreds whose drinking at its worst ranged from what many of us might define as a social drinker's quota to more than a fifth of hard liquor a day. (All of the 222 masters completed a seven-page questionnaire about their drinking pasts, the turning points, how they resolved their alcohol problems, and how they got on with their lives.)

Who Are the Masters?

The masters came to me through postage-paid flyers distributed in public places across the country, advertisements and listings in newspapers and special-interest magazines, postings on the Internet, and recovery groups. Some masters knew me or had heard about my work through a friend.

They come from all walks of life — they're attorneys, maintenance workers, former topless dancers, college professors, physicians, schoolteachers, homemakers, engineers, judges,former bartenders, current bartenders, nurses, and journalists. They're Christians and atheists, gay and straight, people from their twenties to their eighties who got sober anywhere from their teens through their fifties and sixties. They include husbands and wives who got sober together as well as a mother and her two grown children who all quit on their own but at different times. A quarter of them are recovery group leaders, mental health professionals, and/or chemical dependency counselors, so they know sobriety from both ends, as former problem drinkers and as experienced helpers of those who are still struggling. Gender-wise, there is close to an even split: 54 percent of the masters are men and 46 percent are women.

Along with stories of people who were rendered destitute because of their drinking, I wanted to include the experiences of people with mild or moderate alcohol problems, because little help is available for them, despite the fact that they are thought to outnumber stereotypical brown-bag "alcoholics" by three or four to one. Therefore, the stories of the masters' drinking days vary from sagas of high-functioning drinkers who were able to raise families and move upward professionally despite their alcohol abuse to those of hard-core "drunks" who describe loss of jobs, health, children, and dignity. The masters' drinking at its worst ranged from a reported three to five daily drinks for some people up to two daily quarts of vodka for one man.

At the lower end of the scale, Janet C. (who believes she was "chiefly mentally addicted" to alcohol but considers herself to be an "alcoholic" nonetheless) typically had two or three single-shot martinis before dinner and one or two scotches with soda afterward —

surely beyond healthy drinking, but not what most people think of when they picture the stereotypical "alcoholic." Although she felt that her drinking kept her from being a good parent to her two teenagers, she was always responsible enough to know that she "didn't dare drive" them around in the evenings.

At the other extreme, the two-quart-a-day vodka drinker, George M., attributes all of the following to his drinking: "My wife left me; I lost my career, my possessions, my teeth, and much of my eyesight; my friends disappeared. I lived in a spare bedroom in my mother's house, soiled the bed often, had drunk driving and disorderly conduct arrests, and was suicidal." (With the help of AA, he has been sober for more than five years now.) Like George, a number of other masters once abused drugs such as marijuana and cocaine in addition to alcohol. For all but five of them, alcohol was the drug of choice.

Nearly all of the masters have been continuously sober for five or more years;* the average length of sobriety for the entire group is just over thirteen years. Two thirds of them have at least a decade of sobriety.

Sobriety Means Different Things to Different People For most of the masters, sobriety is synonymous with abstinence. For the vast majority, abstinence turns out to be the best policy: nine out of ten are totally abstinent.

Others have a small amount of alcohol on very rare occasions - - say, when making a toast at a wedding reception. About one out of ten of the masters are near-abstinent, occasional, or moderate drinkers, which challenges the notion that one sip of alcohol will lead you back to full-blown "alcoholism." For serious problem drinkers and those who are already contentedly abstinent, however, consuming any alcohol can be a risky proposition.

While most people think of sobriety as total abstinence, Webster's Tenth Collegiate Dictionary defines "sober" not as "abstinent" but as "1 a: sparing in the use of food and drink:

abstemious. b: not addicted to intoxicating drink. c: not drunk . . .

4. marked by temperance, moderation, or seriousness." The masters whom I call sober, then, are those who have resolved their alcohol problems and gotten on top of their drinking, usually through abstinence but sometimes through moderate or occasional drinking.

I sought the masters' help in answering such questions as these:

How important is it to admit to yourself and others that you are an "alcoholic"?

Can you recover — and stay recovered — without going to a recovery group?

If you get sober with the help of a recovery group, do you have to keep going forever?

What about treatment at places like the Betty Ford Center and hospital alcohol programs — is it necessary?

Where do you turn if you have issues about your drinking but don't really feel you're an "alcoholic"?

Is it true that you have to "hit bottom" in order to become motivated to deal with a drinking problem?

Before taking action, are most people "in denial" about their drinking problems?

Do you wake up one morning and say, "That's it: I quit"? If so, what gets you to that point, and does everything else in life just kind of fall into place afterward?

Is it helpful to see yourself as forever recovering, or can you at some point think of yourself as recovered or cured?

Is it true that having just a small amount of alcohol will send you right back to where you left off in your drinking, or is having an occasional drink a possibility for some people?

What if you don't have strong religious or spiritual beliefs, such as faith in a "higher power" — can you still get sober?

Do you eventually lose your longing for alcohol, or do you pine for it forever?

I had some of my own thoughts about these matters, since over the years I have coped with and resolved my own issues with drinking.

But I wanted to find out what others who once struggled with alcohol had to say. What I learned from these masters is striking, and much of what they relate flies in the face of what we've been led to believe about "alcoholism."

Sober for Good examines the common threads among recovery stories of people who have resolved drinking problems in many different ways. A good deal of what the masters share about their triumphs over alcohol is supported by findings of experts whose research doesn't always make its way to the general public. I've interwoven these scientific findings with my discoveries about the masters.

Whether a drinking problem is serious or occasionally troublesome, the wisdom of the Sober for Good masters can help. These people offer possible solutions for those who are just wondering whether they have a drinking problem as well as for anyone who is ready to take action. They offer hope for anyone who is discouraged by the conventional route to recovery, who's looking for something different. If you're dealing with a loved one who has problems with alcohol, the words of the masters can offer insight for you as well.

(Chapter 7 is specifically for family and friends of problem drinkers.)

The masters' stories show that the road to sobriety does not always have a finite course ending in storybook abstinence. They suggest that recovery takes various shapes and forms as well as twists and turns over time and can be marked by interludes of drinking again — all in the context of a serious effort to keep drinking from interfering with a happy, functional life.

Sobriety Is More Than Not Drinking The masters' stories reveal that achieving sobriety involves much more than abandoning problem drinking — it's about taking active steps to achieve a new plane of living, to build a life with no room for alcohol abuse.

Ward R. (twenty-four years)* says his "last drunk" made him realize he had two choices: "I could either work on developing a way of life in which I didn't want to drink, or I could say ‘To hell with it' and continue drinking until I died." Ward made his choice by going to AA but using it in an unconventional way and by developing a life that has no room for drinking. He explains, "I am now retired and my life is full with traveling to other countries, exploring other cultures, being an active member of AARP, working on helping other seniors deal with telemarketing con artists, planning on being a volunteer deputy sheriff, being a member of a gun club, working with other recovering alcoholics, learning how to use the Internet, and remodeling a fixer- upper house I bought. I just don't have time to sit in a tavern or bar."

Marisa S. (seven years, with the help of Women for Sobriety)

says, "Without alcohol, I can be the person I want to be. I have gotten back into my career and have done extremely well, become passionate about my gardening and landscaping, started traveling for pleasure. I can answer the phone or the door without worrying whether I'll give myself away — ‘Am I too drunk?' or ‘Will people notice?'"

Paul V. (nine years, through AA) says, "Since I resolved my drinking problem, there isn't really an area of my life that has been unchanged. I quadrupled my income, I became an avid hunter, I am far less moody, and my relationship with God is in good order. My perceptions of everything are better."

Roxi V. (six years, with the help primarily of Secular Organizations for Sobriety but also AA) says, "I am happy and celebrate every day of my sobriety. I am a well woman." Roxi quit drinking in her mid- forties and since has gone back to school and gotten her M.S. degree.

Best of all, she states, "I've grown as a person. I've become and am becoming the real Roxi, and I like me."

As Regina S. says, the masters have "built a life where drinking doesn't fit in." These are their stories.

Copyright © 2001 by Anne M. Fletcher All rights reserved Houghton Mifflin Company

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 14 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2006

    A Review About Zazoo

    Zazoo, by Richard Mosher, is about a girl named Zazoo, who lives with her grandfather next to a canal in France. She is grateful for her grandfather, Grand-Pierre, who adopted her when she was two years old. He adopted her in Vietnam after her parents died. Grand-Pierre loves her very much and was glad to have brought her to France to live with him after World War II. On page 125, Grand-Pierre says to Zazoo, ¿As soon as I saw you, I knew why I was back in Vietnam. I was there for you to save me.¿ Grand-Pierre felt guilty for all the killing he had done in the war. He likes the company of Zazoo and she started a brighter life for him after the war. Zazoo has a passion for being on the canal. She swims in the summer and rows her boat on the canal until winter comes and it freezes. After the ice is solid, she ice skates with Grand-Pierre. She spends most of her time in or on the water. Everyone in the village knows her for her desire to be on the canal. On page 171, Old Louie, the doctor she goes to when she is sick, says to her, ¿Our river beauty. They say you swim a great deal, and in the winter you skate?¿ On page 10, Zazoo says, ¿¿the fact that I was called not only Zazoo but Zazoo the Gill Girl.¿ Because of her deft swimming, she is called Gill Girl. Zazoo is also very friendly and curious. She meets Marius, who was visiting from Paris and instantly befriends him as she shares poems with him and talks about herself. Zazoo has few friends, and Marius seems like an interesting new person to her, who she can actually talk to. On page 24, Zazoo thinks to herself, ¿But now there was someone else who might understand: Marius the bird-watching bicyclist.¿ Trust and admiration is formed between them while Marius slowly reveals secrets that were kept since World War II. On page 5, Marius says after meeting Zazoo, ¿Can I trust you Zazoo? I mean to keep a secret?¿ She also becomes very close to Felix Klein, who she sees regularly to get pills for Grand-Pierre. As she starts to become aware of secrets that have been kept between Felix and Grand-Pierre, she asks him many questions. On page 15, Felix says, ¿You¿re young, you want to know things, so you ask.¿ Felix, Marius, and Grand-Pierre reveal secrets to her about World War II, that make her very depressed. The plot of the story begins when Marius meets Zazoo next to a canal in a small village in France. He asks her a strange question i.e., if Felix Klein is married. Although confused by this question, Zazoo befriends him after their short conversation. After Marius mysteriously has to leave, Zazoo ponders Marius. On page 15, Zazoo says, ¿I wondered again why Marius had to know whether Monsieur Klein was married.¿ However, they keep in touch with postcards, which Zazoo looks forward to receiving. Zazoo starts to become curious about World War II when Grand-Pierre tells her of the killings he took part in during the war. He says on page 58, ¿You changed me to something better than I was,¿ meaning that he hated himself after doing what he did during the war. Trouble occurs in the plot when Zazoo goes to Felix Klein to learn about what Grand-Pierre couldn¿t tell her about the war. Zazoo has no idea what horrible things she is going to find out. On page 65, Zazoo says to Felix Klein, ¿Something seems to terrible for him to tell me. Too awful. He said it might be too weak of him, but he couldn¿t answer my questions, I¿d have to ask elsewhere.¿ Felix agrees to tell Zazoo the truth. Felix, an eleven-year-old at the time, and his family were the only Jewish people in the village when World War II broke out. His sister Isabelle, and his parents were all hung and killed by the Germans. Felix wasn¿t the only one to miss Isabelle though. Grand-Pierre used to dance the tango with Isabelle when he was in his late twenties. Now Grand Pierre is seventy-eight years old. Grand-Pierre saved Felix and took him to the Cévennes Mountains to hide, so the Germans

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Past and Present United in Love

    I read this book a while back, after finding it while browsing through my town's limited library selection. Extremely well written, and delves into past historical events without feeling like atedious social studies lesson. Instead Mr. Mosher, delves into deep emotional ties from past tragedies that intertwine with the young life of a young Vietnamese girl raised living with her "Grand-Pierre" in France. The story really starts to take off when Zazoo meets the mysterious boy on the bike, named Marius. As Zazoo realizes her feelings for Marius, she also discovers the secrets of past loves, and of her ownfirst love appearing before her very eyes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2008

    Good Read!

    I really like historical fiction. I picked this book up by accident at the library and I really enjoyed it! I flew through the pages! There are many twists and turns. I would recommend it. Anyone who likes to travel to a different land and really get connected to the main character would like this book very much!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2007

    A reviewer

    Perhaps the writer spent more time with his nose in history books than thinking of a good plot and ending. The begining is good, but then it falls down hill. it leads nowhere. Sent me to sleep!!! Don't Waist Your Time!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2006


    I thought that this book was one of the best I've ever read, and I've read a lot of books. It was a classic story of an adolescent girl who is trying to define her identity, as she is Vietnamese, but feels 'French inside.' There is also a bit of romance between Zazoo and Marius, and the outcome was, overall, totally satisfying. DEFINITELY BUY!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2006

    An Excellent Book

    Zazoo is the story of a 13 year old girl named Zazoo who lives with her old adoptive grandfather in France. Thoughout the book Zazoo learns about the history of her grandfather and their village. Past romances and World War Two all play a large part in the book as Zazoo learns about life and love. The review below this pretty much tells you the ending and sounds like a book report so don't read it if you actually plan on reading Zazoo.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2005

    Very Good

    I thought this book was very good, even if it dragged in places. Zazoo is a girl everybody could relate too. She is very kind, thoughtful, and considerate.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2004

    A girl who had nothing and got it back

    This book is one of the best books I have read so far and trust me I have read many books. I liked this book because my personal interests include the Holocaust. The author used very graceful poetic words that are supposed to express something tragic, yet somehow comes out peaceful and promising. The characters used are also very easy to connect with. For example, Zazoo has to go through dealing with her problems for Grandpierre and keeping everything in order.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2004

    Zazoo- The Romantic Legacy

    This was a fantastic book. I loved this book because it combines the past and the present effectively. I can also connect to Zazoo because I know someone with Alzhiemers who is slowly but surely losing her memory, like Zazoo's grandpierre. I also liked how she is so poetic and dreamy but still has a firm grip on reality. It was cool how everyone is intertwined with each other- Marius & Zazoo, Grandpierre & Isabel, Monsieur Klien & Meme Simone. I am fasinated by France so this book helped me develop a deeper understanding of French culture.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2003


    The book is so interesting. It tells of youg Zazoo who lives with her adoptive grandfather, Grand-Pierre. They live in France. It is a little sad. I enjoyed the book because it was written by a great writer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2003

    an awesome read!

    zazoo is a beautifully written book! it was very touching and romantic. it even brought tears to my eyes in the end. this book is just terrific and i highly recommend this as a summer novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2002


    If ever a story merited reading aloud it is 'Zazoo,' the poignant story of a young Vietnamese/French girl and her journey to self-understanding. Joanna Wyatt gives a touching performance as the voice of the narrator, 13-year-old Zazoo. Born in Vietnam, Zazoo has lived most of her life in France, actually in Burgundy with her adoptive grandfather, Grand-Pierre. Her life is peaceful and serene; she has not questioned her past or Grand-Pierre's life before she came to live with him. The tenor of her days changes when Marius, a 16-year-old French boy, bicycles into her small village. His queries lead Zazoo to think and to ask about the time when France was under the boot of the Nazis. As multiple secrets are revealed we learn of a unique link between Marius and the village pharmacist. We also learn of Grand-Pierre's past, some of which he would not wish to be revealed. 'Zazoo,' as it explores the years of war, is a rather painful story yet it is one buoyed by love, hope, and forgiveness.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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