by Gary Paulsen. Novel. 149 pages. Grades 6-9.
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There have only been eighteen casualties of war from the town of Bolton, Kansas through the years, but when one of the town’s citizens announces that he has visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington and that Bolton ought to have a monument, Mick is commissioned to do the job. Mick is an artist and is dirty, rather vulgar, drinks too much, is driven by his art and is wonderful.
Thirteen-year-old Rocky (Rachel Ellen Turner) has her life changed by Mick. Growing up in an orphanage, never expecting to be adopted, before Emma and Fred adopted her at the age of nine, biracial Rocky is limited by a fused knee and is extremely self-conscious about it. She adopts Python (a large dog), gains courage, and learns to see the world around her with the help of the very unconventional Mick.
Fred and Emma also drink a lot and, if you’re looking for a book on the evils of drink, you’d better look somewhere else. These are, however, good decent people who understand a lot about being young and different and the need to go where your soul takes you and Rocky’s soul takes her after Mick. She knows she needs to be an artist too and he helps her to capture the heart of the town on paper.
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