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
24 Book Reviews
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  • kkgautamm
    kkgautammMonday, July 20, 2020 at 5:12 pm33 stars
    i read this book for school, but it was much more interesting than i thought it would be! its a great coming of age novel, and the ending made me really happy.
    • kkgautamm
      kkgautammWednesday, 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.
      • kkgautamm
        kkgautammTuesday, 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!