As the war comes to an end with the bombing of Hiroshima, Martin O'Boy and his best friend Billy Batson join the church choir to earn some money, but the organist, Mr. T. D. S. George, is interested in Martin for more than just his voice, in a sensitively written story of a young boy's triumph over sexual abuse.
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Grade 5-8-Doyle sets his story in the waning weeks of World War II. Martin O'Boy is an expert observer and narrator of the summer of 1945, focusing both on the ups and downs of his family and neighbors; news from the war; and the popular culture of the day, including Captain Marvel (who shares his name with Martin's friend Billy Batson). His naive voice mirrors the limited understanding of the book's prospective readers while adults will immediately see that the boy's presumptive mentor at his church is a sexual predator. Martin's world is believably real. Even the description of the sexual encounter seems like what a confused 11- or 12-year-old might say. Unfortunately, after Martin discovers that his molester is moving on to Billy, the plot becomes not impossible, but unlikely. The two boys take their revenge on the man, an organist, by sabotaging his showpiece at a celebration of the war's end. Later, Martin confesses what happened to him to a neighbor, just returned from the war, who immediately behaves as every boy would hope: the soldier confronts the organist and threatens him if he ever approaches either boy again. Thus what has been an adept and creepily believable tale edges into Captain Marvel land. Children will probably respond favorably to the "storybook" ending, but in a number of ways it trivializes what has preceded it. A flawed, but still notable, novel.--Coop Renner, Fairmeadows Elementary, Duncanville, TX
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Gr. 6-8. In his latest novel, Doyle once again conjures up a tough neighborhood in Ottawa, Canada, during the waning days of World War II. In first-person, present-tense narration, young Martin O'Boy describes his neighborhood and the tension at home in a precise, highly observant voice that always seems genuine. The book takes a scary, somber turn when Martin is molested by a trusted church organist, Mr. George. When Martin discovers that his friend has also been molested, the boys exact a revenge of sorts. The scenes of abuse, described graphically from a child's viewpoint, are unsettling, and readers may be frustrated that even though the boys tell an adult, the organist isn't really punished. But Doyle's portrayal of Martin's naive bewilderment and gradual realization of Mr. George's true character are authentic, and the lively colloquial dialogue and period details create a rich historical portrait with a winning young character at its center. Todd Morning
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Book Description Groundwood Books. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Only lightly used. Book has minimal wear to cover and binding. A few pages may have small creases and minimal underlining. Bookseller Inventory # G0888995881I3N00
Book Description Douglas & McIntyre, Toronto, Ontario, 2003. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Like New. 14.5 X 22.5 cm. Library book. Dust jacket protected by a plastic cover. The title page is missing. Bookseller Inventory # 024655
Book Description Groundwood Books, 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: Used: Good. Bookseller Inventory # SONG0888995881