Adults will likely swoon over this story while most kids will just shrug, never giving the 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.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2015 PAGE COUNT: 277
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.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: I DON’T KNOW HOW THE STORY ENDS by J.B. Cheaney
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.