SCOTTY AND THE GYPSY BANDIT by David Winkler

SCOTTY AND THE GYPSY BANDIT

Age Range: 11 - 14
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Winkler’s debut for children is an offbeat, darkly humorous tale that takes a preteen from the death of his father to a healing round of Thanksgiving deliveries to local children’s shelters, with murder, romance, adolescent pranks, and plenty of growing up in between. Scotty narrates, but the plot revolves around both his mother’s recovery from grief, and his classmate Mick Stewart. Mick compensates for an abusive father and an alcoholic mother with a rich fantasy life in which he, as “The Gypsy Bandit,” performs deeds of derring-do with the help of imaginary friend Reese and reluctant but real friend, Scotty, dubbed “Durango.” Already a focus of attention at school because of the death in his family, Scotty becomes downright notorious when Mick disappears, leaving the brutal Mr. Stewart bludgeoned to death and buried in the backyard. While worrying about his friend, and being hard as can be on his mother once she begins seeing a local shoe store owner (who becomes much more intriguing stepfather-material after Scotty finds out that he used to be a circus clown), Scotty also finally breaks the ice with longtime crush, Lynette. A sudden impulse of his mother’s ends the story with a stitched-on but heartwarming set piece. Overall, it’s patchwork storytelling, but the tone is reminiscent of that found in Jack Gantos’s autobiographical novels (Jack on the Tracks, 1999, etc.), and the cast is enjoyably quirky. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: March 27th, 2000
ISBN: 0-374-36420-6
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2000