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The dead body found in the Chemanga River has nothing to do with Todd. He’s been busy making beds at the family motel and writing alien stories to entertain his friends. Sure, a murder is big news, but what would really interest him? A paying job and a story line free of UFOs and poop jokes. And then he meets Rat.
Just a little older than Todd, Rat’s already been to Vietnam and back. He’s got a tattoo and a messed-up family life. And when he offers Todd a gig at the drive-in theater, Todd takes it. After all, it pays actual money. But hanging out with Rat leads to a host of strange experiences and perplexing questions. More and more, that corpse from the river is on Todd’s mind, and no matter how he shifts the pieces around, Rat is always part of the puzzle.
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Tedd Arnold, the author and illustrator of numerous picture books, lives in Elmira, New York.From School Library Journal:
Grade 6-10–Despite a slow start, this is a solid story set in the early 1970s, with a likable main character and a thrilling climax. Readers will sympathize with Todd, a creative, sensitive boy who helps his parents run a motel in upstate New York and dreams of becoming a writer. When he crosses paths with Rat, a moody young Vietnam veteran, he gets a job at the drive-in theater where Rat works, and finds himself fascinated by the young man, who is compelling but possibly dangerous. Todd begins to wonder if his new friend might have something to do with the unidentified body pulled out of the river. However, the mystery builds quietly as other elements take precedence, including Todd's encounter with an abandoned puppy and the subsequent rabies shots he must endure, his resentment over chores at the motel, his struggles to write a story for English class, and his grandmother's deteriorating mental condition. When the river floods, both Todd and Rat are caught up in the disaster, and the truth comes out at last. The final chapters are riveting, but readers hoping for a fast-paced mystery might be disappointed by the leisurely unfolding of events up to that point. More patient readers will enjoy the details of small-town life and identify with Todd's preoccupations and yearnings.–Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library
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Book Description Dial, 2007. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0803730209
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