Books by Terence Blacker

RACING MANHATTAN by Terence Blacker
Released: May 22, 2018

"Starts well out of the gate and has some staying power—but fades a bit over the final furlong. (Fiction. 12-16)"
A troubled British teen bonds with a troubled racehorse. Read full book review >
THE TWYNING by Terence Blacker
Released: Sept. 9, 2014

"Thoroughly unpleasant and turgid to boot. (rat glossary) (Fantasy. 12-14)"
Rats and humans declare war on one another in this gory study in hidden fears and shifting loyalties. Read full book review >
MS. WIZ by Terence Blacker
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

Clad in tight jeans and sporting black nail polish, spell-casting Ms. Wiz, with an omniscient cat and curious rat in tow, transforms the Class Three children from little terrors to terrific pupils. Quickly labeled a witch, this unorthodox teacher prefers the term "Paranormal Operative" instead. Peculiar lessons increase student achievement and provide entertainment: Wiz's mathematics, for instance, involves a well-trained owl who relieves himself on command when students answer incorrectly. Naturally, adults question her methods and rejoice when Ms. Wiz resigns to travel "where magic is needed." Sequel In Stitches with Ms. Wiz (ISBN: 978-0-7614-5549-3) reunites student Jack, suffering from appendicitis, with Ms. Wiz, now disguised as Dr. Wisdom in a hospital rife with loose rodents and displayed organs. The first entry's stronger than the second, as the story's magic excels more in the classroom than in the operating room. Ross's exuberant lines convey the outlandish situations, though many characters are one-dimensional in these British series offerings, originally published in 1988. Instead of plot development, the focus relies too heavily on cheap jokes for little laughs. (Fiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
PARENT SWAP by Terence Blacker
Released: Aug. 10, 2006

With a mother who's moved out to pursue a career and a sit-in-front-of-the-TV-and-drink-beer-all-day father who used to be a hit musician in the '70s but now can't even leave the apartment, who wouldn't want to change parents? When a flyer advertising ParentSwap mysteriously appears in Danny Bell's backpack, the British 13-year-old accepts the challenge. Rankled by his first parents, the overbearing Harrisons, Danny begins to suspect something's up after observing camera crews following him and other strange coincidences. With the help of his friends back home, the teen discovers that he is the subject of a new reality TV show. After switching to another set of parents, a popular actress and her knighted husband, Danny decides to turn the tables on the entire ParentSwap production. At a royal gala at Buckingham Palace, featuring assistance from the Queen herself and a musical come-back by Danny's dad, Danny gets just revenge and finds that the best parents may be his own. A satisfying, entertaining spoof on both a common teenage desire and reality show culture. (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
BOY2GIRL by Terence Blacker
Released: March 9, 2005

Matthew, a British 13-year-old, is all set for a quiet summer of knocking about with his friends when his mother is called away to America to attend the funeral of her wild sister, Galaxy. Matt's quiet summer is shattered further when his mother returns with Sam Lopez, his 13-year-old cousin. Sam's a typical lower-middle-class American teen, and he immediately alienates Matt's friends with his self-important swaggering. As school approaches, Sam wants to be friends with Matt's gang and he suggests an initiation stunt. Matt comes up with the idea of Sam pretending to be Samantha for the first week of school, and Sam surprisingly says yes. Even more surprisingly, Sam becomes every girl's best friend and every boy's lust crush. When Sam's dad, fresh out of prison, arrives sniffing around for money Sam inherited from his mother, everything gets even further out of hand. Everyone involved, except Sam, shares the narration of this amusing gender-swapping tale. Quite different from Blacker's other import, Angel Factory (2002), this farce with a slightly too-convenient ending will please readers looking for light laugh. (Fiction. 11-14)Read full book review >
THE ANGEL FACTORY by Terence Blacker
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

Driven by plot and theme, this British import features a 12-year-old boy who discovers that angels right here on Earth are asking for his help in saving humanity from itself. Thomas Wisdom may be preppy and blonde, but he isn't bland in the way his parents and sister seem to be, effortlessly gliding through their lives. His discovery that they are angels and he has been adopted propels Thomas into a search for his own origins. At the crux is the question of whether he will choose to remain human or give up free choice and join the angels, thereby agreeing to do whatever he is assigned. Never very convincing realistically, the presence of the US president chatting with Thomas verges on the ludicrous. Nevertheless, the earnest tone and the emotional outpouring of Thomas's thought processes make clear that comedy was not intended. The way in which Blacker sets readers up with stereotypical assumptions about angels being blond and blank of character prior to yanking that away without any preparation in the story feels manipulative. It's almost as though having given the clues to reinforce those assumptions he wants to blame readers for having made them. None of this is religious, as the angels are more like aliens than adherents to any God-given morality. It's the plot twists and the possibilities of angel power that provide the suspense. What food there is here for discussion—free will, adoption, good and evil—is like most junk food: superficially appealing and not terribly satisfying. (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
KILL YOUR DARLINGS by Terence Blacker
Released: Dec. 1, 2001

"A long in-joke, but a good one."
Adult and children's author Blacker (Homebird, 1993, etc.) reveals far more than anyone should know about a writer's inner and outer lives—in a very amusing bit of madness that will prove hideously embarrassing to anyone who's ever dreamed of literary success. Read full book review >
HOMEBIRD by Terence Blacker
Released: April 30, 1993

A wry, loosely knit story of a British teenager who experiments with running away. Sent to boarding school in an effort to boost his grades, Nicky learns that his parents are pulling apart; when he comes home hoping to mend matters, he sees his dad wining and dining a secretary. Disgusted almost as much by the clichÇ as by the situation, Nicky moves into an abandoned house with a colony of squatters—felons all, except for Carla, the leader's attractive black moll; becomes a car thief, falls in with a quirky street-person, and, finally, weary and ragged, calls his distraught parents to bring him home. There's little violence here, but there's also little tension; meanwhile, the characters are standard issue: one school bully, one adolescent older sister, one burglar, one drug dealer, one prostitute (the last two work entirely offstage). Nicky is more aware of the squalor and discomfort he encounters than the perils of street life, and all he has to show for his experience is an invitation from Carla to look her up in a few years. The danger and cast of runaways in Nelson's The Beggar's Ride (1992) are far more vividly drawn. (Fiction. 11- 13) Read full book review >