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Town Hall Article

A Critical Look at the Book - "When Zachary Beaver Came to Town"
By Dennis Francis


I actually liked the pace and visual elements in this book . There was a movie made from the screenplay by director John Schultz. I have not seen it but it is available on DVD.
The book is written in a style that young boys and girls will find easy to read. My 12 year old son enjoyed it but found it a bit sad.
The situations in the book relating to death and divorce may dampen the spirits of a few young people but overall I would say that this is a very good read. The book is 227 pages and relates to boys and girls age 10 and up. The author manages to give a warm and distinctive vision of small town America during one of its most horrific wars. The book is set in 1971 and deals with alienation, acceptance and redemption.
The small town of Antler, Texas bakes in the August heat. Young Toby, the hero of Kimberly Willis Holt's award winning book sees his life as heading nowhere fast. The novel is set in the Viet Nam era and is filled with that hot, slow, West Texas atmosphere. The book would be ordinary except for the appearance of Zachary Beaver. The chapter in which Ms. Holt describes the meeting between Toby and Zachary Beaver is the first of several memorable scenes.
The title character is billed as "the fattest boy in the world." Toby and his friends meet the boy in his trailer, under dubious circumstances and though the scene isn't earth shaking, there is a spark of brilliance in the sparse dialogue and the interaction of the characters.
What Toby learns from Zachary Beaver becomes the focus of Toby's growth from child to young man. The transition is not an easy one as Toby's mother deals with the struggle of a new career and the separation from her son and his father.
The cast of memorable characters include Toby's best friend Cal, Scarlett and little Tara, the bane of Toby's existence.
Throughout the novel, several characters are seen through their letters. Cal's brother is serving in Viet Nam and sends letters almost daily; Toby's mother communicates through her letters from Nashville. I recommend this one for the young adults and tweens.
If you have a favorite book for young adults and tweens that you wish to recommend, email me and let me know at my website.
Dennis Morales Francis is a consultant and coach for business professionals and wellness practitioners. His website, offers his publishing clients online coaching on building Internet income with their books, publishing and assists their marketing on and off the web. David Miller's book can be found at
Dennis -Francis_120951 Dennis Francis

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