Books by Michael de Guzman

Released: May 1, 2010

Twelve-year-old Henrietta Hornbuckle was born into Filbert's Traveling Clown Circus and is determined to stay a clown forever. She's never stepped inside a house or school, and she never wants her life of constant change to, well, change: "Hers was an existence of freedom and movement. Who had it better than that?" Henrietta's security lies in her doting parents' love, especially that of her father, who, at 4 feet 3 inches tall, is her mirror—both character-wise and in clown routines. When he is killed by a car on Long Island one night, Henrietta is numb, disbelieving. The clean, engaging third-person narration and rapid-fire dialogue distinguish this artfully concise novel about the inevitability of change, for better or worse. Not only is the straight-shooting style an interesting contrast to the colorful circus backdrop, it echoes Henrietta's endearingly blunt manner and stubborn nature. What will win out: stability, in the form of an offer of money and housing extended by Henrietta's wealthy Aunt Carlotta, or the promise of the unknown? One thing's for sure: The show must go on! (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
FINDING STINKO by Michael de Guzman
Released: May 3, 2007

Abandoned as an infant, Newboy becomes part of the state's child-care system and over the next 11 years is placed in one foster home after another. At nine, he stops talking. Three years later, he's living at the Knox's, whose home is run with a military precision Newboy finds oppressive. He runs away and while hiding out in a dumpster, discovers a broken doll that once talked by pulling a string. Newboy finds that he can talk through the doll who he names Stinko, and Stinko becomes his conscience. Newboy hides from the Knox's for a time, but after he is re-captured, the friends he made while living on the street rescue him. Newboy's world is bleak, but things take a positive turn as he accepts the other homeless children as friends and once again is able to speak without the aid of Stinko. De Guzman's commentary on the potential pitfalls of America's foster-care system is honest in its portrayal of a boy who's been on his own since birth, his life on the street a powerful thumbnail view of that harsh existence. (Fiction. 11-14)Read full book review >
THE BAMBOOZLERS by Michael de Guzman
Released: Nov. 5, 2005

When this charming, loose-limbed, fairy-grandfather story begins, Albert Rosegarden, a 12-year-old boy who lives with his hardworking waitress mother, has just been suspended from school for insulting his teacher. Then Albert's grandfather, a two-bit, silver-tongued swindler, breezes in from nowhere and takes Albert on a life-changing journey. The two of them wind up in Seattle, where Wendell has an old score to settle with a bad apple named Reo Bascom. Along with a tiny three-legged dog and a host of colorful Runyonesque helpers, Wendell sets the scene for one last scam, but a heart episode forces him onto the sidelines. Albert gamely takes over, learning competence and confidence in the process, and winning the accolade of "first class bamboozler" from his grandfather. Suspense is limited as the outcome of the con is never in doubt, and some might have misgivings as to exactly what lessons are being taught and learned. Still, the story hums, the slightly bittersweet ending is fitting and the characters are so affable that the reader just goes with it. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
BEEKMAN’S BIG DEAL by Michael de Guzman
Released: Oct. 6, 2004

Twelve-year-old New Yorker Beekman O'Day has lived in 14 different homes and attended nine schools. He and Leo, his charming wheeler-dealer of a single dad, keep moving when the going and the finances get tough. Now they've landed in a mews apartment with eccentric neighbors, and Beekman's enrolled in a school he almost likes and where he's made an enemy and, despite his best efforts, a best friend with a very likable sister. No way does he want to move yet again. He needs to make the biggest deal of his life—to stay put. Will this work out, unlike his father's usual deals? Readers will turn the pages to find out. Though the ending's pat, kids won't care, but they will care about Beekman and Leo, whose relationship is wonderfully close, funny, and real. You could say this story is a big deal. (Fiction. 10+)Read full book review >
MELONHEAD by Michael de Guzman
Released: Oct. 31, 2002

A 12-year-old takes a long bus trip to self-discovery in this wry, winning debut. Being shuttled between a pair of divorced, left-coast loser parents, Sidney T. Mellon Jr.—inevitably dubbed "Melonhead" by peers for his outsized noggin—feels like a permanent guest, but when his mother's abusive husband announces the horrifying intention to adopt him, Sidney scrapes together the cash to buy an L.A.-to-New York bus ticket, and hares off. Along the way, he meets Moses Longfellow, a Jewish Navajo centenarian, Mona Lipp, a kindly, one-legged barfly, and other not-quite-down-home characters, each of whom leaves him a little wiser in the ways of the world. Displaying great resilience, a streak of heroism, and a wonderful talent for inventing names—Waldo Smeely, Nestor Beachnut, Busby Spackle, to mention but a few—and fake life stories to go along with them, Sidney makes his way to New York, where he finds both wonder and pain, but not journey's end. Happily, de Guzman provides Sidney with an appropriately quirky alternative caregiver at the end: a grandmother who's about as affectionate as a shark, but can at least provide more safety and stability than either parent. Here's a ride worth taking, not so much for its destination as for the characters—and insights—gathered along the way. (Fiction. 11-13)Read full book review >