I DON’T KNOW HOW THE STORY ENDS for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Adults will likely swoon over this story while most kids will just shrug, never giving the51dGg8Hnj6L._SX338_BO1,204,203,200_ book a chance. It’s a period piece set in early Hollywood during the time of World War I. An undergraduate elective class I took many years ago helped me gain a connection to the story. I had five credits that could be outside my major and I chose a Film Studies class.

I learned about the greats like D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, and how those first Hollywood films were made. Each of their stories are quite amazing and their lives intertwine with that of the narrator of this new story, 12-year-old, Isobel.

Her doctor father volunteered to go off to war and care for injured soldiers. While he is away, Isobel’s mother takes her and a little sister to Hollywood to visit their aunt who lives in the middle of this make believe world of movies. It’s at this point they become the movie thanks to, Ranger, a 13-year-old wanna-be director.

Accurate all the way down to the long lost words used in dialog (...my mind was rather quandarified), this tale of movie making and so much more would have been the perfect companion for that film class. I’m giving this one to my mom to read.


FULL PLOT (From AMAZON) Isobel Ransom is anxious. Her father is away treating wounded soldiers in France, leaving Izzy to be the responsible one at home. But it’s hard to be responsible when your little sister is chasing a fasttalking, movie-obsessed boy all over Hollywood! Ranger is directing his very own moving picture… and wants Izzy and Sylvie to be his stars.

Izzy is sure Mother wouldn’t approve, but scouting locations, scrounging film, and “borrowing” a camera turn out to be the perfect distractions from Izzy’s worries. There’s just one problem: their movie has no ending. And it has to be perfect – the kind of ending where the hero saves the day and returns home to his family. Safe and sound.

It just has to.


  1. Worrying about the future and trying to fit in are issues that many of today’s middle grade kids share with Isobel. A connection that may convince them to read her story.
  2. Having a parent overseas is also a reality for many young people. They’ll be able to see that their concerns are no different than it was for kids 100 years ago.
  3. A great supporting cast of children, all with unique personalities. Ranger, Camera-boy Sam, and overly active little sister Sylvie provide a special bond to Isobel.
  4. Hollywood comes to life not only with how difficult it was to make movies but also in the fun cameos made by the stars of that time.
  5. The story telling is superb and a somewhat tearful climax brings every plot point to a believable conclusion. Another book to study how a story is written in definitive parts.

FAVORITE LINES:  I used to know what to think about most things, but that was before we were uprooted and set down in a strange land of relentless sun and make-believe. Now my thoughts lay in pieces like a pile of random film cuts.

AUTHOR QUOTE (From J.B. Cheaney’s Website):  A writer creates pictures just as a painter or a photographer does. Only, instead of a brush or a shutter, he uses details to help the reader “see.”


Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.

Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
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12 Responses to I DON’T KNOW HOW THE STORY ENDS for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. Sounds like a great story about an interesting period. I’ve been enjoying watching PBS TV series about people living during WWI and II, so maybe I’d like this. Thanks.

  2. allenbookclub says:

    Sounds like teachers will love this book for its historical setting, so I hope it’s marketed in that direction. Skypony just bought my historical fiction middle grade and their comment was that it’s tougher to sell historical fiction. But I know that teachers love to use those types of novels to make content come alive. Good luck to J. B. Cheaney.

  3. Good luck with your new book. Yes, books like these are great read-alouds and discussion starters about life in another era. It gives more meaning rather than reading a list of facts.

  4. Andrea says:

    Sounds really interesting! I’m going to look for it. I like middle grade historical fiction.

  5. Joanne Fritz says:

    I hadn’t heard of this book, so thanks for the heads up. World War I and the whole silent film era are fascinating. And wow, it’s hard to believe it’s 100 years. I hope kids give this a chance. Your Five Things to Like should help, especially points 1 and 2.

  6. cleemckenzie says:

    I love historical fiction for young readers. They learn so much about what happened in the past and people living then by reading an interesting story. This sounds wonderful.

  7. You are right, I think I would enjoy this piece of historical fiction. Its sounds unique and I love really good storytelling. Funny, we both shared stories set a century ago today.

  8. This one is going right near the top of my list. I love historical fiction and this one sounds really fun. Thanks for the review.

  9. Susan says:

    I like to think a certain type of young reader would appreciate well-researched historical fiction such as this!

  10. msyingling says:

    I read a YA romance where the main character had a huge crush on Gene Kelly. While Kelly was definitely crush worthy, I don’t think that the average 15 year old, who was born long after Kelly died, will really care. Sigh. I love Tubbs’ Selling Hope, which featured vaudeville, but my students do, in fact, just shrug when I hand it to them.

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