Interest LevelReading LevelReading A-ZATOSWord Count
Grades 4 - 8Grades 4 - 8Y4.977017
2011 National Book Award FinalistAs a fourteen-year-old who just moved to a new town, with no friends and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him. So begins a coming-of-age masterwork full of equal parts comedy and tragedy from Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt. As Doug struggles to be more than the “skinny thug” that his teachers and the police think him to be, he finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer—a fiery young lady who “smelled like daisies would smell if they were growing in a big field under a clearing sky after a rain.” In Lil, Doug finds the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a whole town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Together, they find a safe haven in the local library, inspiration in learning about the plates of John James Audubon’s birds, and a hilarious adventure on a Broadway stage. In this stunning novel, Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published on February 5, 2013 by HMH Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0544022807
ISBN-13: 9780544022805
23 Book Reviews
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  • kgautam
    kgautamWednesday, May 29, 2019 at 11:07 am33 stars
    pretty good, read it for school. interesting to see him change throughout the story. nice to see the relationships form between characters that normally would not create relationships.
    • kgautam
      kgautamTuesday, May 28, 2019 at 3:19 pm33 stars
      pretty good, read it for school. interesting to see him change throughout the story.
      • loganTuesday, May 21, 2019 at 9:46 am
        this book was not that good. some parts were kind of interesting but there was no major problem and half the book was him drawing a bird.
        • bacon_bitzz
          bacon_bitzzWednesday, January 23, 2019 at 3:54 pm55 stars
          I love this author! This is a great book.
          • pinkiepie1a1
            pinkiepie1a1Sunday, April 30, 2017 at 7:44 am55 starsFeatured
            This book is amazing, It is really an emotional rollercoaster. You began with this 8th grader called Douglas (He is referenced as "Doug" or "Douggo") moving to a new town called Marysville. He finds himself talking to a girl who happened to be Lilian Spicer or Lil for short. Her dad is the owner of a store with a delivery service and Doug gets the job. He soon goes to the library and meets Mr.Powell, a librarian. Mr.Powell brings out Doug's interest in drawing and soon Doug uncovers a big mystery. This Book is really good, It's like a mystery, drama, comedy, and love novel all in one. I really recommend this book for people who are going through some issues because this book helped me out with mine. I don't know how, but it did.
            • bacon_bitzz
              bacon_bitzzWednesday, January 23, 2019 at 3:52 pm55 stars
              Great review!
            • lolo517200
              lolo517200Monday, November 2, 2015 at 12:58 pm55 stars
              this book is so good i really recommend this book
              • booknerd01
                booknerd01Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 6:11 pm55 stars
                We had this book read aloud to us but i couldn't wait to see what happened so I just got the book and finished it. It is a very good book and a great read.
                • xxpish
                  xxpishSaturday, September 7, 2013 at 12:01 pm55 stars
                  The first few pages really are interesting. I think this book will have a very different and unique plot line. I bet the rest of it will be awesome.
                  • bookish5
                    bookish5Monday, August 5, 2013 at 10:34 am55 stars
                    I really love Gary Schmidt's books and this sounds like one that I would particularly enjoy. The plot and the characters sound really interesting and I think it would be fun to read!
                    • ocelot
                      ocelotTuesday, July 30, 2013 at 3:09 pm33 stars
                      Doug Swieteck is a 14-year old and just moved to a new town. He has a bad brother, (a louse) and doesn't really want to do anything. He goes through a lot, and he makes his way to becoming noticeable in the new town.