Monday, October 17, 2016

MMGM: Disappearing Act

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick

Disappearing Act, by Sid Fleischman
Disappearing Act

Written by Sid Fleischman
Cover art by Chad Beckerman

Greenwillow Books, 2003
Ages 8 and up
144 pages, 21500 words


Themes:
Humor, Mystery


Opening:
       Hear that screaming? That's my sister, Holly. It's not exactly screaming. It's singing. She's practicing to be a world-famous opera singer. She thinks people will actually pay to listen to her.
       I have to listen because she's driving. We're heading for California in her old VW with about a million miles on it. The only thing holding it together is the green paint. Holly couldn't find Los Angeles without me, Kevin. She gets lost going around the block. Aside from her sense of direction, she's brilliant.
       We have to get out of New Mexico. Some guy is stalking her. Us,  I mean.


Thoughts:
Holly and Kevin are orphans on the run from a mysterious stranger. They try to disappear among the colorful residents living and performing in Venice Beach, California.  But a middle-schooler and an opera-loving twenty-one year old are hard to hide, especially when they may hold the key to a lost treasure. Their pursuers are not above murder. It will take all the kids' ingenuity, plus a little help from their friends, to unravel the mystery and get their lives back to normal. As normal as it gets in their eccentric neighborhood.

All of Sid Fleischman's books are brilliant, but I have a fondness for this particular book. I can't tell you why. Normally I am drawn to stories set in the past or something with a bit more magic, but Disappearing Act probably appeals to me because it is so fresh. The voice is spot on. The setting so welcoming. The main characters plucky, pathetic, and likeable. The ludicrous, yet true-to-life characters they meet win your heart. Oh, and it's just plain funny.


Bonus: 
 1. If you enjoyed Disappearing Act, you can read dozens of other books by Fleischman. The Ghost in the Noonday Sun is my all-time favorite, though not a comedy like this one. Fellow MMGMer, Janet, recommends the classic The Whipping Boy, reminiscent of both The Prince and the Pauper and The Ransom of Red Chief.


The Ghost in the Noonday Sun, by Fleischman.
Cover art by Tim Jessell, illustrated by Peter Sis
The Whipping Boy, by Fleischman.
Cover art by Dan Andreasen, illustrated by Peter Sis

2. If you love comedy, you can read more about the winners of the Sid Fleischman award for humorous kidlit on the SCBWI website. You may find a few new favorite authors among them.

 

3. Interested in the man himself? Bookpage posted an interview about The Giant Rat of Sumatra, and Reading Rockets did another amazing interview. View the transcript or watch the video below.

 



Have you reviewed a Marvelous Middle Grade Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday recommendations for October 17, 2016.

MMGM started way back in 2010 by Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of Lost Cities. Each week, participating bloggers review our favorite books for ages 8-12. Why not join us?

19 comments:

  1. Believe it or not, I haven't read any of Sid Fleischman's books. This one does sound pretty great, though. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I envy you, with a world of Sid Fleischman books to discover! Some are pretty short. Most are quick reads. He even wrote some picture books: the McBroom stories, which are basically tall tales. Have fun!

      Delete
  2. I'm drawn in by the excerpt you shared. What intriguing premise as well. We really enjoyed By the Great Horn Spoon at our house--and I've been wanting to read The Whipping Boy. He's an amazing writer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Somebody recommended Great Horn Spoon as a read aloud, though I confess, I only got half-way, then misplaced it. And I forgot to mention how we enjoyed the audiobook version of Disappearing Act made by Full Cast Audio. Definitely great for car trips.

      Delete
  3. I've only read Sid Fleischman's THE WHIPPING BOY. I will have to give this one a try. Very intriguing story line. Sid had a long life of 90 years. Thanks for the review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I could have heard him speak. He was an interesting person and a fabulous writer. Thanks.

      Delete
  4. I can see I have some work to do. This author sounds like someone I should be reading. Thanks for telling me about his works.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh definitely. This contemporary piece is toned down. He loved outrageous humor, like in Chancy and the Grand Rascal. So O'Henry.

      Delete
  5. This is one I have on my TRB list because I also like Sid Fleischman so much. Great review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Try the audio book if you haven't time to read it. It's just two hours, but well-done. Thanks.

      Delete
  6. This sounds super amazing and I LOVE the mystery theme! AAHH I really want to put off all my current reads and just read this now!!! Sigh, alas alack. Thanks for the rec! ~Sue Kooky

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL at least you'll have something amazing to look forward to. Have fun!

      Delete
  7. I actually have an audio copy of this that I got on sale several years ago, but I've never read it. Your review has just moved this to the top of my post-Cybils TBR.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I enjoy your blog, but I have trouble commenting there. So now I can tell you how much we appreciate your reviews because we love audiobooks!! Let me know what you think. Thanks.

      Delete
    2. Thank you. I am planning to change blog hosts after the Cybils are over. And I will try to remember to come back when I have read this.

      Delete
  8. This book sounds great! Thanks for the review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank-you. You'll have to let us know how it stacks up against your MG favorites.

      Delete
  9. What a great opening! It hooked me immediately. Love the intriguing story line. Sounds like a great read. And, I love opera. So, I'm sold.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the siblings' loving relationship and the narrator's love/hate relationship with his sister's opera fetish. I think you'll be recommending this one. Thanks.

      Delete

Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!