The Ambassador of Nowhere Texas
The Ambassador of Nowhere Texas

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Annotation: In 2001, seventh-grader Rylee Wilson and new student Joe, whose father was a New York City first responder on 9/11, decide to find Zachary Beaver and reunite him with Rylee's father, Toby.
Catalog Number: #221621
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Copyright Date: 2021
Edition Date: 2021
Pages: 314 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-250-23410-7 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-8573-4
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-250-23410-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-8573-0
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2020020577
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews
This sequel to Holt’s National Book Award winner, When Zachary Beaver Came to Town (1999), revisits Antler, Texas, 30 years later; this time our guide is Toby’s daughter, Rylee.Rylee, 12, is a passionate booster of her tiny hometown. Unlike her mercurial best friend, Twig, she’s blessed with a happy family. Rylee’s stunned by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, then heartsick over their faltering friendship. Joe, a new classmate from Brooklyn, provides welcome distraction. He ridicules Antler but warms to self-appointed tour guide Rylee, who piques his interest in Zachary Beaver. Learning how the attacks affected Joe’s family makes 9/11 personal to locals. Stalwart Rylee, navigating tween angst, is engaging, but comprehensive updates on characters from the first novel slow the narrative. Little has changed for the White residents. Antler’s success story is Juan Garcia, the impoverished teen from the Mexican side of town, now a world-famous golfer, his childhood home a tourist attraction. Juan’s affluent extended family includes the brilliant Garcia twins, Rylee’s classmates. A new character, Vietnamese immigrant Mr. Pham, cooks for and lives at the bowling alley’s cafe. He suddenly buys the town’s mansion, planning to open an upscale restaurant. White residents’ struggles, missteps, and achievements are affectionately chronicled; the Garcias and Mr. Pham get no humanizing backstories, and they seem to serve to validate Antler’s post-racial bona fides.Sticks to the shallows. (Fiction. 10-14)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* In this companion to the author's memorable When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, 30 years have passed and it's 2001. Former protagonist Toby Wilson is now an adult with a 12-year-old daughter, Rylee, who tells this quiet story of a small Texas town and its friendships. The book begins, however, with a friendship's end, as Rylee and her long-time best friend, Twig, have a falling-out. But nature abhors a vacuum, and soon a new boy, Joe Toscani, comes to town from Brooklyn and ter a rocky start comes Rylee's new friend. She soon discovers that Joe and his mom, Maria, have fled Brooklyn to distance themselves from the still-raw memory of the tragedy of 9/11, when Joe's fireman father was killed at Ground Zero. It's Joe who decides that surprise Toby and Rylee should start the Zachary Beaver Project, searching for the "Fattest Boy in the World," as Zachary had been billed in the first novel. But how on earth will they find him, these many years later? Evocatively written ("stiff as burnt bacon"), this is an altogether absorbing and affecting novel. It's obvious that Holt loves her fully realized characters and their small-town setting, and readers can't help but feel the same.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (12/1/20)
Word Count: 48,234
Reading Level: 4.7
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.7 / points: 7.0 / quiz: 510595 / grade: Middle Grades
Guided Reading Level: N

Kimberly Willis Holt's The Ambassador of Nowhere, Texas is a stunning post-9/11 companion to the National Book Award-winner When Zachary Beaver Came to Town. Decades after the Vietnam War and Toby's life-changing summer with Zachary Beaver, Toby's daughter Rylee is at a crossroads--her best friend Twig has started pushing her away just as Joe, a new kid from New York, settles into their small town of Antler. Rylee befriends Joe and learns that Joe's father was a first responder on 9/11. The two unlikely friends soon embark on a project to find Zachary Beaver and hopefully reconnect him with Rylee's father almost thirty years later. This beautiful middle grade novel is a tribute to friendships--old and new--and explores the challenges of rebuilding what may seem lost or destroyed. Christy Ottaviano Books


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