A 12-year-old and his aspiring opera singer sister flee from a stalker. They don't know what he wants, but perhaps it has something to do with their missing mother. "Fleischman again unleashes his literary slight-of-hand, dispensing laughs and a lickety-split plot," according to PW. Ages 8-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Despite the complaint that it starts the reader with little background information about their predicament, Fleischman's wacky story of a brother and sister who invent new lives in order to escape a stalker would be an exciting-and at times, absolutely hilarious-book for almost any middle school student. A quick read, it takes an interesting look at the triumph of two runaway kids on their own in the crazy world that is California. PLB
Alison Daniels, Teen Reviewer <%ISBN%>0060519622
Twelve-year-old Kevin Kidd (alias Pepe Gomez) and his big sister Holly (alias Chickadee Gomez) are on the lam. After the disappearance of their archeologist mom in Mexico, their Albuquerque home has been burglarized and a mysterious man seems to be stalking them. They wash up on the beach in Venice, California, and cheerfully set about creating new lives. The bohemian milieu is good to them. Holly/Chickadee sings opera and Kevin/Pepe learns how to be a "hat man," a slightly more successful enterprise than his attempts at fortune telling. Life is getting better all the time until the stalker reappears and threatens to put a crimp in their futures. Newbery Medalist Fleischman has a good hand for breezy storytelling. Here, he is obviously enjoying painting the carny atmosphere of Venice and its living-by-their-wits occupants. "Toad," the stalker, may be in the background, but he doesn't put a crimp on Kevin's natural common sense any more than does the local gang of delinquents he sweetly turns around. The book is a good read, and a fast one, too—filled with Fleischman's signature humor and occasional sly wit. 2003, Greenwillow,
KLIATT has reviewed this in hardcover in March 2003 and also in audiobook (in this issue). To quote the hardcover review: This is for the youngest of YAs, and is a charming story of life on the boardwalk of Venice, California. Fleischman has dreamed up a wild story of a brother and sister on the run from a stalker, a man in a white suit...Their mother is an archaeologist who has disappeared and is believed to be dead; and the stalker is probably someone who knows the mother's work and thinks there is some information her children have in their possession that would make him rich... This is a funny romp, not to be taken seriously in any way, with wild coincidences and characters with crazy names. Holly and Kevin are remarkably capable young people who use their resources to defend themselves, make friends, and at the end, fulfill their dreams. KLIATT Codes: JRecommended for junior high school students. 2003, HarperCollins, 132p., Ages 12 to 15.
Gr 4-8-Twleve-year-old Kevin and his older sister Holly are on the run from a mysterious stalker named Toad and, befitting their offbeat lifestyle, they wind up in Venice Beach, California. Holly gets a chance to practice her opera singing under the alias of Chickadee Gomez while Kevin reinvents himself as Pepe, the kid fortune teller. The siblings encounter many wacky characters in their new home, including a medical student who juggles watermelons, a mother who imitates the Statue of Liberty, and a movie extra landlady. Of course, Toad follows them to Venice in a thin plot to gain a map that their missing and presumably dead mother left behind. Although the mystery aspects of the plot are sketchy, the colorful characters and vivid sketches of life in Venice make this novel by Sid Fleischman (Greenwillow, 2003) worthwhile. Galen Druke and the Full Cast Audio staff do an excellent job of imbuing the wacky characters with life. Fans of Sid Fleischman as well as those new to his work will enjoy this novel's humor and great dialogue.-Katherine Devine, Westminster Academy #26, Elizabeth, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
A brother and sister on the run find refuge and rescue among the eclectic and eccentric characters of Venice Beach. Kevin is 12, his sister Holly, 21, and their archaeologist mother has recently died in an earthquake while on a dig in Mexico. Shortly after her death, a mysterious predator they nickname the Toad begins to stalk them, precipitating their sudden and secretive move from New Mexico to Southern California. They rename themselves "Gomez," and Kevin (as "Pepe") turns his energies to making a living with the busking community on the beach, while Holly (as "Chickadee") gets a role as Mimi in a beachfront production of La Bohème-when the Toad shows up and threatens everything. The real treasure of this fast-paced narrative is the colorful assemblage of secondary characters, from Bumpy, the med-student-cum-watermelon-juggler, through Mrs. Niederhauser, the living Statue of Liberty, to their landlady, a career movie extra named Miss Fiesta Foote. Fleischman (Bo and Mzzz Mad, 2001, etc.) serves up an agreeable stew, flavored with heaps of coincidence and goodwill, and laced with a hearty dose of disregard for reality. Kevin and Holly, despite their almost total lack of resources, never lose heart, nor even think about such dreary things as school. This attitude is entirely in keeping with the other-dimensional feeling of Venice Beach and keeps the reader's attention focused on the plot, which leaps about good-naturedly and wraps up happily for all. Realistic fiction it's not, but good, quick, and smart fun-definitely. (Fiction. 8-12)