Herculeah Jones uncovers the mystery to the disappearance of her best friend's dad after buying a second-hand camera, but the road leading to a reunion is not as easy as they had expected as Herculeah and Meat are faced with a killer along the way.
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Betsy Byars began her writing career rather late in life. "In all of my school years, . . . not one single teacher ever said to me, 'Perhaps you should consider becoming a writer,'" Byars recalls. "Anyway, I didn't want to be a writer. Writing seemed boring. You sat in a room all day by yourself and typed. If I was going to be a writer at all, I was going to be a foreign correspondent like Claudette Colbert in Arise My Love. I would wear smashing hats, wisecrack with the guys, and have a byline known round the world. My father wanted me to be a mathematician." So Byars set out to become mathematician, but when she couldn't grasp calculus in college, she turned to English. Even then, writing was not on her immediate horizon.
First, she married and started a family. The writing career didn't emerge until she was 28, a mother of two children, and living in a small place she called the barracks apartment, in Urbana, Illinois. She and her husband, Ed, had moved there in 1956 so he could attend graduate school at the University of Illinois. She was bored, had no friends, and so turned to writing to fill her time. Byars started writing articles for The Saturday Evening Post, Look,and other magazines. As her family grew and her children started to read, she began to write books for young people and, fortunately for her readers, discovered that there was more to being a writer than sitting in front of a typewriter.
"Making up stories and characters is so interesting that I'm never bored. Each book has been a different writing experience. It takes me about a year to write a book, but I spend another year thinking about it, polishing it, and making improvements. I always put something of myself intomy books -- something that happened to me. Once a wanderer came by my house and showed me how to brush my teeth with a cherry twig; that went in The House of Wingscopyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.From Kirkus Reviews:
Frizzing up whenever danger threatens, amateur sleuth Herculeah Jones's hair gets a real workout in this tale of murder, weight, and family secrets. The spotlight is on Herculeah's chunky friend, Meat, who finds a corpse in the restroom of the local comedy club. Moments later, the body's gonealthough a trail of clues remains. Meanwhile, on the film from an old camera, Herculeah finds pictures of Meat's long-absent father, and believes she must conceal them. Byars (Tarot Says Beware, 1995, etc.) keeps readers on the edges of their seats with alternating shocks, cliff- hangers, and revelations; she throws in plenty of red herrings, plus tantalizing references to Herculeah's past and future cases before closing with a dazzling series of twists: Not only does the killer turn out to be a sympathetic sort who strangled her comedian boyfriend for telling ``fat'' jokes at her expense (in a mordant denouement, she and Meat reel off a series), but contrary to Herculeah's expectations, Meat is thrilled to learn that his father is Macho Man, a WrestleMania regular. Some plot elements get short shrift, but several characters show surprising depth, and readers should be prepared to read this in one breathless sitting. (Fiction. 10-12) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Viking Juvenile, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0670877352