By: J.B. Cheaney
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Audience: Middle Grade - Grades 5-7
*AUTHOR WE LOVE!*
Our story begins in a dusty little town in California, a bustling place called Hollywood...
Isobel Ransom is anxious. Her father is away treating wounded soldiers in France, leaving Izzy to be the responsible one at home. But it's hard to be responsible when your little sister is chasing a fasttalking, movie-obsessed boy all over Hollywood! Ranger is directing his very own moving picture... and wants Izzy and Sylvie to be his stars. Izzy is sure Mother wouldn't approve, but scouting locations, scrounging film, and "borrowing" a camera turn out to be the perfect distractions from Izzy's worries. There's just one problem: their movie has no ending. And it has to be perfect – the kind of ending where the hero saves the day and returns home to his family. Safe and sound. It just has to. The Wild West atmosphere of early Hollywood and the home front of a country at war form a fascinating context to award-winning author J. B. Cheaney's new novel about the power of cinema in helping us make sense of an unexpected world.
What an absolutely extraordinary setting! Middle grade readers are certain to be enthralled by the early Hollywood setting and the opportunity to see into the beginnings of the motion picture industry. Names like Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and even Charlie Chaplin may not mean much to young readers now, however, after this novel they are sure to do a bit of research on their own and maybe even inspire a new of wave of young filmmakers. In addition to all of the Hollywood magic, Cheaney’s characters are so well-realized, clever, and industrious that readers will delight in the crazy schemes they come up with next in order to make their Hollywood dreams a reality. While there is certainly light-heartedness to the story, it does tackle some serious topics as well. The effects of war on those left behind, trying to find stability in a world that is filled with chaos and change, and the adult responsibilities that children feel they have to take on. Overall, this book will have wide appeal for all types of middle grade readers. The setting of the Golden Age of Hollywood is one that is well-researched, new, and exciting. Additionally, Isobel, Ranger, and Sam are fantastic characters that readers will enjoy following as they scheme and swindle their way into making the next big picture while simultaneously learning a thing or two about themselves in the process.