School Library Journal (05/01/2007):
Gr 6-10Despite a slow start, this is a solid story set in the early 1970s, with a likable main character and a thrilling climax. Readers will sympathize with Todd, a creative, sensitive boy who helps his parents run a motel in upstate New York and dreams of becoming a writer. When he crosses paths with Rat, a moody young Vietnam veteran, he gets a job at the drive-in theater where Rat works, and finds himself fascinated by the young man, who is compelling but possibly dangerous. Todd begins to wonder if his new friend might have something to do with the unidentified body pulled out of the river. However, the mystery builds quietly as other elements take precedence, including Todds encounter with an abandoned puppy and the subsequent rabies shots he must endure, his resentment over chores at the motel, his struggles to write a story for English class, and his grandmothers deteriorating mental condition. When the river floods, both Todd and Rat are caught up in the disaster, and the truth comes out at last. The final chapters are riveting, but readers hoping for a fast-paced mystery might be disappointed by the leisurely unfolding of events up to that point. More patient readers will enjoy the details of small-town life and identify with Todds preoccupations and yearnings."Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library" Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly (05/07/2007):
In this dark and consistently gripping mysteryArnold's ("Parts") first foray into YA territory14-year-old Todd Anthony whets readers' appetites with a list of possible first lines, beginning with A dead guy washed up from the river. Set in upstate New York during the Vietnam War, Todd works at his parents' motel and spends his school days writing stories to entertain his friends. One day while biking home, he encounters a small dog; when Todd picks it up, it bites him and darts into the road where it is hit by a cement truck. He is forced to kill itit's been too gravely woundedand he is subsequently devastated. Todd keeps his actions secret; he writes about the incident for a school assignment, but is unable to turn it in. I pull her closer. Feel a tiny lick on my wrist. I'm crying. Shaking. I never knew what crying really was. While searching for the dog's owner, Todd meets Rat, a tattooed and evasive veteran only a few years older than Todd, who offers him a job at the local movie drive-in. Meanwhile, a dead body has been discovered in the nearby river and Todd begins to suspect that Rat is involved on some level. Arnold amply demonstrates his ability to write for an older crowd, spinning a suspenseful yarn with a dizzying climax that sweeps Todd off his feetboth literally and emotionallyand will likely do the same to readers. Ages 12-up. "(Apr.)" Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"Realistically and sensitively written as Todd's own manuscript, this entertaining and thoughtful account is an absorbing snapshot of early 1970s life, as well as fast-paced coming-of-age fare that should appeal to young male readers."--Kirkus Reviews
After developing an unusual friendship with a young Vietnam War veteran in 1972, fourteen-year-old Todd discovers his writing talent and solves a murder mystery.
The dead body found in the Chemanga River has nothing to do with Todd. He's been busy making beds at the family motel and writing alien stories to entertain his friends. Sure, a murder is big news, but what would "really" interest him? A paying job and a story line free of UFOs and poop jokes. And then he meets Rat.
Just a little older than Todd, Rat's already been to Vietnam and back. He's got a tattoo and a messed-up family life. And when he offers Todd a gig at the drive-in theater, Todd takes it. After all, it pays actual money. But hanging out with Rat leads to a host of strange experiences and perplexing questions. More and more, that corpse from the river is on Todd's mind, and no matter how he shifts the pieces around, Rat is always part of the puzzle.
Kirkus Review - Children 03/01/2007 pg. 216 (EAN 9780803730205, Hardcover)
Kliatt 03/01/2007 pg. 8 (EAN 9780803730205, Hardcover)
School Library Journal 05/01/2007 pg. 128 (EAN 9780803730205, Hardcover)
Publishers Weekly 05/07/2007 pg. 61 (EAN 9780803730205, Hardcover) - *Starred Review
Booklist 05/01/2007 pg. 44 (EAN 9780803730205, Hardcover)
Voice of Youth Advocates 06/01/2007 pg. 137 (EAN 9780803730205, Hardcover)
Bulletin of Ctr for Child Bks 06/01/2007 pg. 401 (EAN 9780803730205, Hardcover)
Hornbook Guide to Children 07/01/2007 pg. 361 (EAN 9780803730205, Hardcover)
Wilson Middle/Junior Hi Catalo 01/01/2008 pg. 116 (EAN 9780803730205, Hardcover)
Wilson Senior High Core Col 01/01/2008 pg. 88 (EAN 9780803730205, Hardcover)
Wilson Senior High Core Col 01/01/2011 pg. 875 (EAN 9780803730205, Hardcover)
Contributor Bio: Arnold, Tedd
Ted Arnold illustrated My First Baking Book, My First Camera Book, My First Gamebook, My First Computer Book, and has designed many Bialosky and Friends(r) products.