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The Weirdo


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About the Author

THEODORE TAYLOR (1921-2006), an award-winning author of many books for young people, was particularly known for fast-paced, exciting adventure novels. His books include the bestseller The Cay, Timothy of the Cay, The Bomb, Air Raid--Pearl Harbor!, Ice Drift, The Maldonado Miracle, and The Weirdo, an Edgar Award winner for Best Young Adult Mystery.


Environmentalism provides the political backdrop for this story of the courage and self-acceptance acquired by ``weirdo'' Chip Clewt, 17, in his fight to save the bear population in a North Carolina swamp. Badly disfigured in a fire, the boy takes refuge from the world with only the bears and Tom, his boss, for company. But when Tom disappears, Chip enlists his new friend Samantha to help prove that the man was murdered by poachers. In an eloquent debate that proves informative and moving, human and animal rights are pitted against each other. This murder mystery/love story/environmental thriller by the author of The Trouble with Tuck weaves an uncommon spell. Deftly drawn characterizations, from the admirable to the loathsome, and an engrossing journalistic format are among the many strong points that make his timely and compelling novel a winner. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)

Gr 6-9-- ``Weirdo'' is the insulting nickname the townsfolk give Chip Clewt, a 17-year-old boy who had been badly burned in an airplane crash before he came to live with his artist father in the secluded Powhatan Swamp. Now assisting a graduate student observe and tag bears in the swamp in order to protect them, he has aroused the tempers of local hunters. Samantha Sanders, the 16-year-old daughter of one of the most vocal opponents of the hunting ban, meets Chip when she follows a prize hunting dog into the swamp. She gradually comes to understand the issues that concern him, and when the graduate student disappears, she and Chip investigate on their own. A strong friendship develops as the two lonely teenagers solve a murder while lobbying for animal rights. The story is carefully plotted with revealing flashbacks and alternating chapters that juxtapose Samantha's experiences with Chip's college essays on life in the Powhatan. The language is richly descriptive and the animal research information interesting. Both teenagers come to the realization that self-acceptance is the first stage in loving someone else, and that gives them the courage to make a difference in their environmental stand. A highly readable story that has the elements of romance, mystery, and animal adventure going for it. --Yvonne Frey, Peoria Public Schools, IL

An eloquent debate pitting human and animal rights against each other is both informative and moving as this murder mystery/love story/environmental thriller weaves its uncommon spell. Deftly drawn characterizations, from the admirable to the loathsome, and an engrossing journalistic format are two of the many strong points that make this timely and compelling novel a winner.--Publishers Weekly

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