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The Beastly Arms
     

The Beastly Arms

4.3 3
by Patrick Jennings
 
Nickel and his mother need t find a new apartment. When their search leads them to an unfamiliar part of the city, Nickel is drawn to a strange building at the end of an alley, a building called The Beastly Arms. Nickel¹s mom thinks the building is creepy. But Nickel‹an avid photographer who has a gift for seeing what others miss‹senses that The Beastly Arms houses a

Overview

Nickel and his mother need t find a new apartment. When their search leads them to an unfamiliar part of the city, Nickel is drawn to a strange building at the end of an alley, a building called The Beastly Arms. Nickel¹s mom thinks the building is creepy. But Nickel‹an avid photographer who has a gift for seeing what others miss‹senses that The Beastly Arms houses a secret that only he can unearth. And that secret will leave you looking at the world in a whole new way.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Featuring colorful characters, a hint of mystery and an unusual perspective on urban life, Jennings's (Faith and the Electric Dogs; Putnam and Pennyroyal) winsome novel traces the remarkable discoveries of Nickel Dill, an 11-year-old nature lover and photography buff. Walking around the city with his camera (passed down by his grandfather), Nickel looks beyond the crowds and grime. His artist's eye allows him to see wildlife in cloud formations ("There's a mud puppy, catching a ball.... And the shrew who threw it!") and he gives each of his neighbors an animal identity ("Mr. Huddleston, the flower-stand man, was a bobcat, with his goatee and hairy ears, and Agatha, the pie lady, was a walrus"). When the rent goes up on their apartment, the boy and his mother are forced to move. One day while they are apartment hunting, they come across a mysterious man named Mr. Beastly (Nickel "couldn't put his finger on what kind of animal he was"), who offers them an apartment in his building for an incredibly low rent. Jennings doles out just enough clues to the Beastly Arms' history such as Mr. Beastly's fascination with Nick's pet kangaroo rat and the litter box smell that permeates the building to keep pages turning at a rapid rate. Nickel's passion for photography and his touching relationships with both his mother and his best friend, Inez, lay the groundwork for his ability to recognize and appreciate Mr. Beastly's gifts. Readers will remain alert and entertained as they wait to find out what secrets the young hero will uncover. Ages 10-up. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
"Featuring colorful characters, a hint of mystery and an unusual perspective on urban life, this winsome novel traces the remarkable discoveries of an 11-year-old nature lover and photography buff," said PW in a starred review. Ages 10-14. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Eleven-year-old Nickel is a dreamer. An avid photographer, every cloud and every person he sees reminds him of a particular animal. Nickel and his mother can no longer afford the rent in their city apartment building. And just when it seems they will have to move to the suburbs, Nickel meets a strange old man named Mr. Beastly. Mr. Beastly knows a lot about Nickel's favorite subject—animals. He even befriends Nickel's pet kangaroo rat, Miriam. When the old man offers a great deal on the rent, Nickel and his mom take an apartment at the Beastly Arms. Nickel senses that Mr. Beastly is harboring a secret, and Nickel intends to find out what that secret is. Tracing a strange smell through the nine-story apartment building, following his instincts as Mr. Beastly taught him, Nickel discovers a world that he never knew could exist in the city. Although far fetched in its vision, this novel offers an important environmental message that, with any luck, will strike a nerve with young adults. 2001, Scholastic Press, $16.95. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Christopher Moning
School Library Journal
Gr 5-6-In this offbeat novel, an easily distracted 11-year-old discovers just how apt the name of his new inner-city apartment house is. Perhaps it's the building's barnyard smell or the way landlord Julius Beastly alternates between unshaven stumblebum and nattily attired salesman, but Nickel knows there's something fishy going on-or, to be more precise, gamy. To Nickel, everyone resembles some kind of animal, as do the clouds that he photographs obsessively. And, as his head is usually in those clouds, if it weren't for his alert, boundlessly energetic friend Inez's elbow-jogging, he would constantly be running into mailboxes or standing lost in contemplation of dust motes in sunbeams. Still, camera in hand and pet kangaroo rat in pocket, Nickel sets out alone in the dead of night to explore the Beastly Arms's upper floors. He makes astonishing discoveries, prompting Mr. Beastly to admit the truth. It seems that almost all of the building's 73 rooms are filled with wildlife-bats, foxes, opossums, rodents, owls, and more-all rescued from building projects and other urban hazards over the past 40 years. Now Beastly is old and tired, willing to turn their caretakership over to a kindred spirit. In the end, what stands out here is not the premise (its booktalkability notwithstanding), but the protagonist. Nickel is about as different from Joey Pigza as it is possible to be, but like Jack Gantos, Jennings reveals a similarly vivid, winning blend of strength and vulnerability inside the head of his bright, creative, dreamy child.-John Peters, New York Public Library Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Nickel is a sixth-grader so attuned to animals that he sees them everywhere: first in the clouds-where the mutable shapes in the sky become camels, kangaroos, musk-oxen, and hares-and then in the people he meets in his city, recognizing in each an animal in disguise, bipedal like Miriam, his companion kangaroo rat. Nickel's concentration is all for the revealing of these animals, with little left for the world itself. His best friend, down-to-earth Inez, tolerantly calls him a bush baby and the image of those big eyes suits Nickel's observant character. He photographs the clouds and develops the pictures in the darkroom of the college where his mother teaches. The process of capturing and bringing to light pictures on film is carefully, gracefully detailed, and sets the pace for a novel full of revelations and dream-like encounters. The arc of the story is drawn by Nickel's desire to uncover the mystery of The Beastly Arms and its odd landlord, Julius Beastly. Nickel discovers the Beastly Arms while apartment hunting with his mother. Mr. Beastly is so eager to have them as tenants that he paints the front door and appears in a suit for their return visit to the building. He sets the rent so low that-given what Nickel and his mother both recognize as the man's essentially benign demeanor, and in spite of the place's persistent smell of animal dung-they can't refuse. When Nickel uncovers the mystery, it is less a surprise to the reader than a kind of enchantment: The building is Mr. Beastly's sanctuary for hundreds of the wild creatures who once lived in the spaces the city now occupies-rooms and rooms filled with small animals ("mice . . . voles, shrews, ferrets, gophers andmoles"), along with opossums, foxes, bats, and an owl or two. Mr. Beastly recognizes in Nickel a kindred spirit and enlists him as an apprentice caretaker for his wild charges. Beastly begins to reconnect with the world of humans while bestowing on Nickel a real connection to wild creatures in this richly imagined kind-hearted novel. (Fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780613514804
Publisher:
Sagebrush Education Resources
Publication date:
01/28/2001
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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