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THE FLIMFLAM MAN by Darleen Bailey Beard


by & illustrated by

Age Range: 9 - 11

Pub Date: March 25th, 1998
ISBN: 0-374-32346-1
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

 From Beard (The Pumpkin Man from Piney Creek, 1995), an easy-to-read tale based on a true incident that the citizens of Wetumka, Oklahomain a classic case of making lemons into lemonadestill celebrate with an annual ``Sucker Day.'' When F. Bam Morrison steps out of his turquoise blue Chevy and announces that he's the advance man for Bohn's United Circus Shows, the whole town of Wetumka rushes to buy ticketsall but crotchety ol' man Swank, who snorts that Morrison is only a flimflam man, a two-faced weasel. To Bobbi Jo Hailey, 10, and her friend/rival Clara Jean, Morrison is a true marvel, offering Bobbie Jo advice on how to lose her stutter, exchanging ``free'' tickets for meals and other amenities, wowing the ladies with his grand manners, and smoothly selling circus program ads. Ol' man Swank is right, though; Morrison has the grace to apologize to Bobbie Jo before making his escape. The people of Wetumka make the best of it, deciding that if they can't have a circus, at least they can have a parade. Side plotsboth girls belong to single-parent families, and Clara Jean's father is an alcoholicweigh the story down but don't sink it; flashily dressed and positively glowing with trustworthiness, Morrison cuts a genial figure in Christelow's comfortably casual black- and-white drawings. (Fiction. 9-11)