Date reviewed: 4/6/04 Grade: YA IL 9-14
Summary: Homer’s mother continues to act strangely whenever faced with questions about his father. Homer’s artistic abilities confuses him because both of his parents were doctors (one of medicine, one of languages), not artists. Upon a summer move to a home that Homer never knew they owned, Homer suspects that his mother hasn’t been truthful about his dad. There is a man in town that she is afraid of, who townsfolk seem content to ignore as they would a ghost. Homer finds a new friend with an adventurous spirit and they hatch a plan to follow the “fake man” who wears a bad disguise, and find the answer to the mysterious connection between them.
Personal Reaction: Very intriguing, written in a fun style – friend Roger’s antics and maid Madeline’s straightforward talk fit perfectly (I wonder if the kids will “hear” it the same way?)
Points for discussion with children: mystery, art/artists, disguises/spying, private property, privacy, honesty
Possible classroom uses: Can be used well with a mystery unit. Easy to read, not too long.
Connections to other books? Other stories dealing with a child’s search for identity, if paired with a good mystery, will be easy to sell after this: Heaven by Johnson, Sharing Susan by Bunting, The Face on the Milk Carton by Cooney and I’m Not Who You Think I Am by Kehret. Nonfiction books on heredity.
Realia: paintings; fake moustache and glasses, dress up a doll in a bad disguise; photograph of a shack with broken windows; paintbrush/paints, sketchbook, migraine headache pills