You’re stuck at the beach and it’s raining. Or the plans for a fun day at home fell through and your house has an echo: “There’s nothing to do, nothing to do, nothing to do.” Your kids aren’t teenagers yet. They’re too young to sound so old. If only your reluctant readers liked to read.
That’s not just boredom talking; it’s opportunity knocking. Hide this book where it’s sure to be discovered.
A HITCH AT THE FAIRMONT by Jim Averbeck, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014
Chapter one, sentence one: “No body meant no casket,…” Here begins Jack’s tale of woe, guaranteed to make any bored pre-teen realize life could be worse. 11 year old Jack never knew his dad and now his mom has driven off a pier. Jack is sitting in the funeral home looking at his mother's head shot and all the props supplied by her acting troop for a Hollywood funeral. By the end of the chapter, Jack and his buddy Schultzie have wiggled through a basement window in the funeral home. Jack has decided to seek answers. What they find is two sheet covered bodies that have no answers for them, but Jack decides not to take no, or no response, as final.
Then his Aunt Edith arrives to take charge. Boo, hiss! Things get worse and, if there were such a word, worser.
One would think that when Aunt Edith is kidnapped, life would be better for Jack. It’s really hard for the reader to feel sad about this turn of events. Why not say, “Good riddance!” or “Who cares?”
But Jack cares. Remember, he never knew his father, has lost his mom to a tragic accident, and except for Aunt Edith, he is a Boy Alone, a whole orphan with no family.
Then he meets Alfred Hitchcock. THE Alfred Hitchcock.
The first page of each chapter features a panel of drawings, cartoon style, by Nick Bertozzi. How appealing for any reader who has been confronted with a writing assignment in school and made to tell his story in words, not pictures. I suspect the author may relate.
Each chapter is a title of a Hitchcock movie. At the back of the book, the author has provided a list of these movies with famous scenes and where to see those…look for it…Hitchcock cameo appearances. Parents may be inspired to start a series of summer movie nights. There are 35 chapters and 35 Hitchcock films to enjoy.
I don’t want to spoil any surprises. With lots of action and Hitchcockian suspense, readers will be eagerly turning pages to get to the end which they won’t see coming. I didn’t.
Parents will enjoy reading about the author’s interesting life. Their kids will be too busy reading the book.
It's hard to predict when you will realize the book you so cleverly tucked away has disappeared. Your reluctant reader has disappeared, too. Find one and you will find the other.