First Boy

by Gary D. Schmidt

When fourteen-year-old Cooper Jewett’s grandfather dies, Cooper is left an... read more

When fourteen-year-old Cooper Jewett’s grandfather dies, Cooper is left an orphan. His love for the land is the only certainty he has left, and he’s determined to continue running his grandparents’ New Hampshire dairy farm, the only home he’s ever known. His seemingly impossible struggle is soon complicated even more by a series of strange and unsettling events: one of the barns burns down, the house is robbed, and men in black sedans have shown up asking questions about Cooper’s past. Two neighbors helping to care for Cooper finally tell him a long-hidden truth: no one knows who his parents are. He had been abandoned by strangers on the farm as an infant. But someone knows—or thinks he knows—who Cooper is. The man behind the strong-arm tactics is running for President of the United States, and he believes Cooper is just what he needs to unseat the current President. First Boy has all the tension of a good thriller. There are unrealistic plot elements, and some secondary characters—particularly the “bad guys”—who lack dimension, but read as a suspense story rather than realistic fiction, it’s not only compelling but wholly satisfying. And at its core is a protagonist whose struggle for self-determination is worthy of any fine novel. (Ages 11–14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2006

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