Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 7
- Reading age: 9 to 12
After almost drowning in a swollen creek, Wes wonders if what his friend Zach says is true: Wes owes a life debt to the old lady who rescued him. It doesn't help that Wes keeps hearing his dead father's voice saying things like, "A man pays his debts, Wes," and "A man always treats a woman with respect, Wes." But how does a guy go about paying back a life debt anyway? And what if it involves a transmission tower, an ice-cream truck and a few sticks of dynamite?
About the author
Natalie Hyde writes fiction and non-fiction for middle-grade and young adult readers. Her fiction titles include Mine!, Saving Armpit, I Owe You One and Hockey Girl. She is also the author of over forty educational non-fiction books, as well as trade non-fiction titles: Cryptic Canada, Glow-in-the-Dark Creatures and Stay Strong: A Musician’s Journey from Congo to Canada. Her books have garnered award nominations in both Canada and the U.S. She lives in Flamborough, Ontario, with her family.
- Short-listed, Silver Birch Express Award nomination
- Commended, CCBC Best Books
- Short-listed, CYBIL Award nominee
- Commended, Resource Links "The Year's Best"
Excerpt: I Owe You One (by (author) Natalie Hyde)
My mom would kill me if she knew I was this close to the flooding creek, but I was desperate.
I heard footsteps crunching on the gravel path. My heart pounded. I was about to be caught doing the dumbest thing I had ever done. Well, maybe not the dumbest. There was that whole slime-mold experiment last summer. We couldn't use our bathtub for a month.
I made one last grab for my hat.
"A fun-filled 'house-that-jack-built' story of connections, both logistical and emotional...It is seldom that a text written simply, for younger readers, makes me both giggle and tear up. Natalie Hyde has created characters with humourous traits, realistic flaws, and yet a sense of integrity and community that restore one's faith in people. There is sufficient suspense and juvenile pranks to grip young readers' imaginations...A text that is as rewarding to give to a child as it will be for the child to read."
"The plot moves quickly from one humorous situation to another. Quirky but believable characters populate the small Canadian town, giving a yesteryear feel to a modern story. With its slim length, fast pace, and humor, this title will appeal to a wide range of readers."
"[Hyde's] storytelling abilities are evident in this easy-to-read tale."
Waterloo Region Record
"Can be enjoyed by young readers as well as reluctant older readers. There are enough twists and explosions to keep the story interesting."
NJ Youth Services
"An entertaining book...The strong moral message in the book will delight the readers' parents, but Hyde manages to make her point without being preachy, and Wes is a fairly normal 11-year old boy to whom who children will relate. The plot moves along quickly, and the writing is appropriate to this age group, making it a great choice for children, especially boys, in this age group. Highly Recommended."
"Lessons about persistence, consequences, and following in your father's footsteps are intertwined throughout this story. A great addition for upper elementary."
Tacoma School District #10