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|Boys of blur|
Author: Wilson, Nathan D.
When his stepfather moves them to Taper, Florida, in the Everglades, twelve-year-old Charlie discovers a secret world hidden within the sugar cane fields, as well as new family connections and friendships.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.50
Points: 6.0 Quiz: 165732
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.20
Points: 10.0 Quiz: 71908
School Library Journal (-) (06/01/14)
Booklist (+) (06/01/14)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (06/14)
Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 06/01/2014 Charlie Reynolds first meets his cousin Cotton at a funeral in a Florida town near Lake Okeechobee. They aren’t blood relatives-Charlie’s white and Cotton’s black-but as Cotton points out, Charlie’s stepfather is Cotton’s father’s cousin, and “cousins is cousins.” Cotton introduces twelve-year-old Charlie to some of the darker mysteries on the swampy edge of sugar cane country, and although Charlie’s intrigued, he’s also oppressed by memories of how he and his mom once fled from his father in this very region, years ago before she remarried and life settled into loving security. There are things in the swamp more horrifying than an abusive father, however, and when a helmeted, sword-wielding grave-robber is one of the good guys in the neighborhood, it’s clear that things will only be going from perilous to dire. The author crafts a tale laced with literary influences, on the order of his Leepike Ridge (BCCB 7/07), but this time the inspiration is Beowulf. ?The book’s zombie-like Gren do the bidding of their evil “mother,” who lives in an underwater cave in the swamp, where the hero Charlie must slay her with a magical weapon from her own collection. Wilson orchestrates the menace with a sure hand, teasing readers with the uncertainty of whether mortal or otherworldly creatures are the greater threat. Pair this with James Rumford’s age-appropriate retelling of Beowulf (BCCB 11/07) for an even more powerful experience. EB - Copyright 2014 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 06/01/2014 *Starred Review* In Taper, Florida, football runs through the town’s veins like children through the sugarcane fields—fast as the rabbits they’re chasing. When Coach Wiz dies, 12-year-old Charlie Reynolds and his family travel to Taper for the funeral, and Charlie feels the tug of the land beneath his feet. He and his cousin Cotton take off through the cane until they reach a mound rising between the fields and outlying swampland, topped with a chalk stone, a dead snake, and a mysterious man wearing a helmet and carrying a rusty sword. In the swamp, a mystical sense pervades, and the boys learn of an ancient, evil tribe threatening the town and what they must do to keep it in check. Wilson brings the stuff of folklore to life in this novel, as elements of Beowulf, voodoo, and zombie mythos combine with the everyday to fantastic effect. The story moves at heart-pounding speeds, furthered by magic and mystery and rooted in ideas of familial bonds and self-discovery. In the end, it is a tale of one boy’s daring quest to save his family and to learn what it means to fly. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 06/01/2014 Gr 5–7—Charlie's in foreign territory when his stepfather brings the family back to Taper, FL, to attend the funeral of his high school football coach. Charlie immediately finds himself adopted as a cousin by a relative of his stepfather and, almost as quickly, caught up in the strange customs and eldritch history of the football-obsessed towns that surround the sugarcane fields. Wilson has invented timeless creatures embodying good and evil. A mysterious and terrifying "Mother" reanimates the recent dead, turning them into "Gren"—repellent, odiferous beings that pursue the boys through the muck, canals, and cane fields. The presence of Gren causes humans to think hateful thoughts. On the side of goodness, there's an odd, ghostly man wearing a helmet and wielding a rusty sword and Mother Wisdom, the football coach's widow who has magical healing powers. Additional layers of complications are provided by the appearance of Charlie's own father who'd abused Charlie and his mother before their divorce. There is also a half-brother Charlie never knew existed. Mixed in with the family drama and supernatural elements is some football. The atmosphere Wilson creates is darkly compelling, and the writing is poetic. The mythology, however, is more a net of allusions than a fully formed cosmology. Several references to Beowulf are made throughout the text, though how it directly relates to this contemporary story is unclear. Lyrical language, literary connections, and shifting points of view may leave the intended audience unwilling to wade through the muck with Charlie.—Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.