Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Charlatan's Boy

Author:  Jonathan Rogers
My recommended age: 11+
Their recommended age:  NA
Publisher:  Waterbrook Press
Number of pages: 320

Publisher’s description:
“I only know one man who might be able to tell me where I come from, and that man is a liar and a fraud.” 
 As far back as he can remember, the orphan Grady has tramped from village to village in the company of a huckster named Floyd. With his adolescent accomplice, Floyd perpetrates a variety of hoaxes and flimflams on the good citizens of the Corenwald frontier, such as the Ugliest Boy in the World act.

It’s a hard way to make a living, made harder by the memory of fatter times when audiences thronged to see young Grady perform as “The Wild Man of the Feechiefen Swamp.” But what can they do? Nobody believes in feechies anymore.

When Floyd stages an elaborate plot to revive Corenwalders’ belief in the mythical swamp-dwellers known as the feechiefolk, he overshoots the mark. Floyd’s Great Feechie Scare becomes widespread panic. Eager audiences become angry mobs, and in the ensuing chaos, the Charlatan’s Boy discovers the truth that has evaded him all his life—and will change his path forever.

My thoughts:
·         Characters:   Lovable, entertaining, and easy to understand.  Rogers must've been really in tune with his 'players' to get them so real.  I could almost see Floyd, Grady, and even the minor characters with such clarity, that it was wonderful.

·         Plot: Awesome job.  The end isn't AT ALL  what you would think, which is good work at plot twisting.  I had to keep reminding myself, that Feechies aren't real.

 ·         World building:  Amazing.  Rogers did a fantastic job 'making' Corenwald island.

·         Writing: Rogers style is easy to read, yet full and vibrant.  It doesn't get you muddled up at all.  I think (just by the writing) a 8 year old could read it.  As to whether they would understand the depth, plot, and happening, I'm not so sure.  Rogers can also add those bits of humor without being stupid or foolish.  Honestly, I think I spent over half the book laughing.  Furthermore, Rogers wrote how the characters would speak.  Since it is in First person, a lot wasn't grammatically correct, as Grady doesn't have college degree English, it made it seem all the more real.

·         Cover: Isn't it great?  Looks like a circus poster.  I kept going back to look at it over and over again.

·         Ending:  You'd never guess what happens.  And I'm not going to give it away.

Grady and Floyd's profession isn't a super one, they are Charlatans, ya know.  
 Realistic dialog.
Amazing Cover.
Surprising ending.
Well written.
Easy to read.
Well developed Characters.
Clean content.


Romance and sexual content:


Drugs and drink:
Random Preview:
“Laaadies and geeentermen!” he hollered, sort of stretching it out like he was growling it. “Laaadies and geeeentermen! My name is Perfesser Floyd Wendellson, collector of the rare and the beautiful, and the world’s foremost authority on feechie life and habits!”

My box had a knothole in the side panel, and when I hunkered down, I could see the villagers gathering around the wagon. Things get quiet in the villages, so the commotion of a stranger pulling up in a wagon and hollering about feechiefolks fetched a crowd right off. And once the villagers was in earshot, they wasn’t going anywhere. You never seen anybody could hold a crowd like Floyd. He cut a fine figure in his shiny coat and squared-off hat—so tall and straight. His black mustaches wagged when he talked, and even folks who didn’t believe a word he said couldn’t wait to see what he was going to say next.

I knowed Floyd’s patter by heart. He rearranged the pieces pretty freely, stretching it out if folks was slow to gather, or leaving parts out if folks seemed restless, but the main points of the speechifying was the same every time, and they was pretty simple:

First, Floyd was the bravest adventurer ever to pole a flatboat and the only civilized man ever to come out of the Feechiefen Swamp alive.

Second, for one night and one night only, Floyd was giving a lecture in the village hall—a lively report of his travels with a full account of the habits and customs of the feechiefolks, the wild and mysterious native inhabitants of the Feechiefen.

Third, Floyd’s lecture would include the displayment of a he-feechie he had brought back from the swamp, the only genuine feechie to be found in the civilized world.

Fourth, everybody in the village was invited to come listen to Floyd’s lecture for the small price of one copper coin per person.

Sometimes Floyd started in on all the other so-called feechie authorities—how they’d just find a ugly boy, diaper him in muskrat pelts, slobber him with mud, and call him a feechie. How them other feechie experts was all just charlatans and frauds and only Floyd had the real thing. It took some gumption to tell such a barefaced lie as that. There aint a lot to admire about Floyd, but the man does have gumption. Sitting in that box and listening to Floyd run on about what a fine specimen of feechiehood I was, can you blame me for believing it myself?

“Wild Man of the Feechiefen Swamp” is a heap better than “ugly boy whose mama didn’t want him.” When it comes to Floyd’s tales, you got to pick and choose what to believe anyway; I figured I might as well believe the tales I liked the best.

And I never believed them feechie tales more than in the five minutes just before the box flung open. By the time Floyd got to my cue, I was about to bust I felt so feechiefied. “He’s really quite harmless”—that was my cue. When
Floyd worked them words into his patter, I commenced to yowling like a panther and growling like a bear and howling like a wolf, thumping around in my box and putting up such a ruckus as you never heard in your life. I kept it up until Floyd whapped on my box a few times with his cane.

It didn’t take much of that business to get the crowd whipped up pretty good. I know Floyd and me was supposed to be the show, but the crowd made a pretty good show their own selves, and I liked nothing better than watching it through my knothole.
You guessed it:

*DISCLAIMER* I recieved this book for free to review from Waterbrook Multnolmah Books. All opinions are my own. 

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