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Me and Billy
     

Me and Billy

by James Lincoln Collier
 

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Life at Deacon Smith’s Home for Waifs would be completely dreary if it weren’t for Possum’s best friend, Billy, who “thinks up lies faster than he can talk” and provides plenty of excitement for the other boys. When Billy hears that gold is hidden in the mountains—“Great big chunks of it, some of ‘em big as your

Overview

Life at Deacon Smith’s Home for Waifs would be completely dreary if it weren’t for Possum’s best friend, Billy, who “thinks up lies faster than he can talk” and provides plenty of excitement for the other boys. When Billy hears that gold is hidden in the mountains—“Great big chunks of it, some of ‘em big as your fist”—he plans to escape, taking Possum with him. The two runaways embark on a journey in search of their dream—the gold that will lead to a better life. To earn enough money for their adventure, they join Professor Alberto Santini, “savant of the healing arts,” and his road show. The professor teaches the boys how “spieling” can make a buck, but it’s only the professor who seems to be earning any money. Just as Possum and Billy realize that they’ve been conned, they get tangled up in a murder. The boys try to keep ahead of the law as they continue their search for gold, but their friendship becomes strained as Possum begins to feel more and more “different in some ways” from Billy. Is the boys’ friendship strong enough to carry them through to the end of their journey?

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Billy Foster is a born liar. All the boys in the Deacon Smith Home for Waifs love to hear Billy's tales. Deacon Smith is hard on all the boys and he enjoys giving a boy a good whipping from time to time. Billy arrived at the Home in a basket one winter. He does not even know how old he is for sure. Billy has no real birthday or last name and is completely unsure about who he is. But Billy knows for sure that he is Possum's best friend. Billy and Possum dream about running away from the Home to discover gold. Another one of Billy's lies is just the trick for the two boys and their dreams for the future. Once the boys run away they quickly discover they have new problems, no where to go and no money. Billy and Possum make a pledge to each other never to steal and this pledge is solemnly kept until they meet Professor Alberto Santini and his traveling road show. The two discover new places but most of all they discover new things about and within themselves. Billy and Possum's adventures will be enjoyed by even the most reluctant reader. This is a must for intermediate- and middle-school libraries. 2004, Marshall Cavendish, Ages 9 to 12.
—Sue Reichard
Kirkus Reviews
Possum (the only name the 12-year-old orphan has) tells his own life story and picaresque adventures with fellow orphan and best friend, Billy. The boys have lived in Deacon Smith's Home for Waifs since their births. Billy, the protagonist, is at once charming and amoral and dreams of escaping to find endless gold. When they do flee, they encounter a charlatan who feeds them and has them work selling his medical nostrums. After the "Professor," they meet and work with others, some upstanding and some unsavory. Billy steals a watch from someone who's been good to them, making Possum realize that Billy will never change. So he and Billy part. Set on the western frontier of the US in the time of horse-and-buggies, the story has a light tone and is often humorous, thanks to exaggeration, but it packs a wallop of exciting adventures and plot twists. Readers will recognize the extent, as Possum does, of Billy's character flaws, but they'll still like him. A good read-aloud selection that may lead to discussion about likable rogues. (Fiction. 4-7)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781620646663
Publisher:
Blackstone Publishing
Publication date:
06/01/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
192
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

James Lincoln Collier has written many books for children, including Give Dad My Best and Planet Out of the Past. Mr. Collier has also contributed more than five hundred articles to the New York Times Magazine, Reader’s Digest, and Boy’s Life.

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