Leon and the Spitting Image

Leon and the Spitting Image

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060539320
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/10/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,114,886
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Allen Kurzweil is a prize-winning novelist, children's writer, inventor, and journalist. His work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the New Yorker, the New York Times, Smithsonian, and Vanity Fair. He is a graduate of Yale University and the recipient of Fulbright, Guggenheim, and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.


Bret Bertholf is a painter, writer, musician, and the yodeling singer for Halden Wofford & the Hi Beams, an acclaimed traditional country/western band, as well as the coordinator of children's events at the Tattered Cover Book Store. The artist is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and lives in Denver, Colorado.

Read an Excerpt

Leon and the Spitting Image

Chapter One

The Envelope

The night before the start of fourth grade, Leon Zeisel was on pins and needles. He lay in bed thinking about just one thing. An envelope.

Leon had first discovered the envelope one week earlier, while poking through his mom's desk. The envelope had attracted his attention for a simple reason. His name was written across the front in thick block letters. For a brief moment he had thought the envelope might contain a special surprise -- tickets to a Yankees–Red Sox doubleheader would have been sweet -- but that dream disappeared as soon as he noticed the school seal and a single word stamped in blood-red ink:

CONFIDENTIAL

That warning did the trick. Curious though he was, Leon shoved the unopened envelope back inside the desk.

But after a few days, curiosity turned into concern, and concern then turned into terror. Which was why, the night before school started, Leon slipped out of bed and made a beeline back to his mom's desk. Once there, he pulled the middle drawer halfway out. That released a catch on the slim side drawer. Don't rush, he told himself. Mom's working late.

Leon squinched his eyes shut and clucked his tongue. Only after completing his good-luck routine did he remove the envelope, undo its clasp, lift the flap, and inspect the contents -- three sheets of paper, each with the phrase home report centered at the top. His fingers started shaking and his heart started thumping as it dawned on him that he was holding a top-secret history of his life at the Classical School.

Leon took a deep breath and began to read. Page one came from his first-grade teacher, Mrs. Sloat. She wrote: "Given the tragic loss of his father, it is not surprising that Leon is a tad delayed in the domain of manual dexterity."

Leon sighed. He didn't like being called delayed. And bringing in his dad -- who had died in a freak accident at a fireworks factory when Leon was four -- felt like a cheap shot.

He went back to Mrs. Sloat's assessment: "Leon's frustration most regularly expresses itself during craft time. He completed his macaroni necklace only with a great deal of assistance. And although a macaroni necklace might not seem important, it is. For here at the Classical School, our motto has always been, 'Nimble fingers make for nimble minds.'"

Geez! How many times had he heard that stupid saying!

Leon recalled only one thing about Mrs. Sloat, and the memory wasn't pleasant. He remembered her badgering him to stick his hands in Play-Doh and to feel the squishiness. Leon hadn't liked squishiness back in first grade, and he didn't like squishiness now.

He turned to page two. It came from his second-grade teacher, Miss Toothacre. Her report was just as grim. Miss Toothacre wrote, "Leon continues to be hampered by a troubling lack of fine motor skills."

That was another dumb thing he had heard a thousand times. Leon knew only too well that "lack of fine motor skills" had nothing to do with fancy cars. Teachers used the expression to avoid calling him a klutz.

The comment hurt. Suppose he was hampered; wasn't that Miss Toothacre's fault? She was the one cramming him into a bogus confidential report. Didn't that make her the hamperer?

Leon wiped his nose on the sleeve of his pajamas and braced himself for the third-grade report. It was now Mr. Joost's turn to get his licks in. Mr. Joost wrote, "Leon's handwriting is significantly below grade level, and he is challenged by even the most basic manual tasks, such as tying his laces. At this juncture, I would seriously encourage corrective measures. One suggestion: Flute lessons might improve his finger movement."

Leon had always wondered why his mother forced him to take music classes with Miss Brunelleschi. Now he knew.

The home reports felt like strikes one, two, and three. And that made it all the more odd that the only nice words in the whole secret history came from Skip Kasperitis, the former minor-league pitcher who taught PE.

Coach Kasperitis wrote, "Leon is a real treat and a very special kid. His coordination needs work, but there's no question he's a champ. And if he ever learns to master his passion, I'll tell you this, Leon Zeisel is the kind of kid who could make magic."

Leon and the Spitting Image. Copyright © by Allen Kurzweil . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Leon And The Spitting Image (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the best I read this book in the ofurth grade &nd this is like a 200 page book &nd I read it (: This book is suitable for anyone. IT IS HILARIOUS!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so halarious!!!!!!When I picked this book up I couldn't put it down it was so good! If you can't find an good book to read I would definyly pick this one out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!![It's also good for book club's too!!]
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I realy like this book. I am alittle too old for it now (i am ten) but i recoment it for third grade and fourth grade.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome! Its so good i wish there were ten more of these books! I can not wait to read the next one!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever, I never wanted to put this book down it was so good
sparklegirl on LibraryThing 8 months ago
It was a little long and about halfway through the book I thought "Okay, the problem is solved so, what is the next half of the book about?" It was very good though.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loveit allot! !!??!!''
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I lov this book it is amazig i remember the day it came out at the public library ahh reading is beatiful.:) you love to read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The auther is coming to my school!!!!!!!!! Best book ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Debbie Greenspan More than 1 year ago
this story is very very well writen and im a writer. too
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although he's probably most widely known for his role on TV's 'Perfect Stranger,' actor Mark Linn- Baker has an impressive resume. His Broadway credits include 'A Year With Frog and Toad,' 'A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum,' 'Doonesbury,' and 'Laughter on the 23rd Floor.' In addition, he is a producing director of New York Stage and Film. Linn-Baker's voice is so dextrous that he easily becomes an imaginative fourth grader or Miss Hagmeyer, a teacher who makes the Wicked Witch of the West look kind and has ears that look like 'giant rotting mushrooms.' He could probably read a dictionary and make it fun, but that's not necessary as 'Leon and the Spitting Image' is a laugh provoking story that will have 4 - 6 graders nodding heads and grinning in approval. Leon Zeisel lives in New York City in a rather rundown hotel where his mother is employed. Actually, being rundown isn't the most interesting aspect of the hotel - it's a hotel for animals. However that's not really a problem for Leon because he's worried about having to repeat the fourth grade. He attends a school that judges students by their skill at handicrafts - an ability definitely lacking in Leon. Plus, he has to face a dreadful bully - Lumpkin the Pumpkin who taunts and torments him with a dodgeball. Leon has no alternative but to come up with something acceptable that he has made with his hands. Believe it or not, he sews a doll that is the spitting image of the mean Miss Hagmeyer. Not only is the image precise, but this doll has magic powers - when moved Miss Hagmeyer does the same thing as if hypnotized. Revenge has never been so sweet or funny. - Gail Cooke
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is so funny and fun to read. A quick read and a good read! Highly Recommended!!