- 17,99 zł
During the Great Depression, a boy who faces bullying stumbles upon a mystery and comes of age in this novel that integrates fact and opinion and has a rich 1930’s vocabulary. Extra material: An Author’s Note is included in the back of the book.
Mike Costa has lived his whole life in The Strip, Pittsburgh’s warehouse and factory district. His father’s large Italian family runs a food wholesale business, and Mike is used to the sounds and smells of men working all night to unload the trains that feed the city. But it’s 1933, and the Depression is bringing tough times to everyone. Money problems only add to Mike’s worries about his beloved grandfather, who is getting forgetful and confused.
Mike is being tormented at school by a loud-mouth named Andy Simms, who calls Mike “Macaroni Boy.” But when dead rats start appearing in the streets, that name changes to “Rat Boy.” Around the same time Mike notices that his grandfather is also physically sick. Can whatever is killing the rats be hurting Mike’s grandfather? It’s a mystery Mike urgently needs to solve in this atmospheric, fast-paced story filled with vibrant period detail.
Ayres (Voices at Whisper Bend) takes to the gritty streets of the Strip, the warehouse district in Pittsburgh, for a Depression-era tale steeped in mystery and exploring family ties. Mike Costa knows his family is fortunate their Italian food market, Costa Brothers Fine Foods, holds its own while many businesses are failing. Mike even has his own job, trapping rats in the storeroom. But Mike finds it difficult to feel lucky as a boy bullies him at school and as his grandfather's deteriorating mental health is compounded by increasing bouts of gastric distress. Clues as to what might be making his grandfather sick, and what may be killing rats (as well as two hobos) around town, spur Mike into an urgent and dangerous bit of sleuthing. Ayres peppers her story with vivid period details (including descriptions of the city's immigrant population), but the historical color cannot salvage a disappointing, often unappetizing plot. Though the novel starts promisingly enough, fueled by realistic dialogue and characters, its repetitious structure and rushed conclusion give it a formulaic feel. Ages 8-12.