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Boys of blur /

"When Charlie moves to Taper, Florida he discovers a secret world hidden within the sugar cane fields"-- Full description

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Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Random House, 2014
Edition: First edition.
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Fans of Jerry Spinelli's Maniac Magee and Louis Sachar's Holes will enjoy this story about a boy and the ancient secrets that hide deep in the heart of the Florida everglades near a place called Muck City.

When Charlie moves to the small town of Taper, Florida, he discovers a different world. Pinned between the everglades and the swampy banks of Lake Okeechobee, the small town produces sugar cane . . . and the fastest runners in the country. Kids chase muck rabbits in the fields while the cane is being burned and harvested. Dodging flames and blades and breathing smoke, they run down the rabbits for three dollars a skin. And when they can do that, running a football is easy.

But there are things in the swamp, roaming the cane at night, that cannot be explained, and they seem connected to sprawling mounds older than the swamps. Together with his step-second cousin "Cotton" Mack, the fastest boy on the muck, Charlie hunts secrets in the glades and on the muck flats where the cane grows secrets as old as the soft earth, secrets that haunted, tripped, and trapped the original native tribes, ensnared conquistadors, and buried runaway slaves. Secrets only the muck knows.

Review by Booklist Review

*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.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

N. D. WILSON lives in Idaho with his wife and their five young explorers.

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