Finding Stinko

Michael de Guzman, Author . FSG $16 (144p) ISBN 978-0-374-32305-9

As De Guzman’s (The Bamboozlers ) dark yet hopeful tale opens, a teen leaves her newborn in the lobby of a posh apartment building. She named him Newboy “because he was starting out new. All she wanted was for his life to be better than her own.” But placed in the state’s child-care system, Newboy is shuffled from one foster home to another and is branded a troublemaker for his frequent attempts to run away. At the age of nine, the boy stops talking (“He didn’t do it on purpose.... He just opened his mouth one morning and nothing came out”). Three years later, Newboy sneaks out of his 11th foster home and heads to a nearby city, where he crawls into a dumpster to sleep. Amidst the garbage, he finds a battered ventriloquist’s dummy and names him Stinko. Suddenly, Newboy can talk—in the voice of Stinko—and is delighted to be able to have a conversation (“What difference did it make if he was holding both ends of it?”). Using this dual-voice device to create revealing dialogue between the two personae, the author inventively fleshes out the youngster’s character. Life on the streets has its perils—Newboy mistakenly trusts the scheming, dishonest leader of a group of young runaways and is stalked by the nasty foster parents from whom he escaped. Yet through his rapport with Stinko and several new homeless friends, Newboy finds confidence, happiness, hope and his own voice. The lad’s plaintive musings about his mother’s whereabouts and fate adds a tender note to this creatively layered, touching story. Ages 10-up. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/28/2007
Release date: 04/01/2007
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 144 pages - 978-1-4668-0995-6
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