The Charlatan's Boy

Ellen Stumbo

4 Stars

January 26, 2011

Grady has no last name, he does not know where he came from and he has no mama and no pa. All he has is Floyd, a huckster who is a liar and a fraud. For as long as Grady can remember, he has been traveling with Floyd all over Corenwald, putting on a Feechie act where he gets to be "The Wild Man of the Feechiefen Swamp!" Grady, having nothing to hold on to, comes to believe this character to be his true identity. He is a he-feechie, alive and in the flesh. But the people of Corenwald no longer believe in Feechies and Floyd and Grady must find new trades. Grady's heart is broken as he is told he is not a real Feechie, but only the Ugliest Boy in the world. An idea that births a new act, but when another boy is found to be uglier than Grady, a new trade most be found, and Floyd and Grady find themselves in the Phrenologist trade. Yet, Grady cannot forget the old days. Neither can Floyd forget the money they made with the Feechie act. Together, Floyd and Grady set to create another Great Feechie Scare. Floyd, merely using the ugly boy for his profit, while Grady longs to relieve the days where he had an identity, and he knew who he was.

I enjoyed this book. From the beginning, my heart was drawn to Grady. He longs to know who he is and where he came from. As an adoptive mother, Grady's heart speaks to me. He wants to be loved, he wants to know where he comes from, who he is, and wishing that he had a friend, someone who cared for him. Grady's likable character is well established from the beginning, and his personality and voice are consistent and strong throughout the book.

Floyd and Grady's adventures as they travel from town to town putting on their Fechie act, along with the other various performances, are fun and entertaining. These are sprinkled with Grady's longings of love and friendship, and you get a good, light hearted read.

While it was not a page turner, I recommend this as a fun read.