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Children's Fiction General

Rex Zero, the Great Pretender

by (author) Tim Wynne-Jones

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Sep 2009
General, Boys & Men, Post-Confederation (1867-)
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2009
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2009
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 0
  • Grade: p to 12
  • Reading age: 0


Commended, Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Books: Historical Fiction

It's September 1963 when Rex is blindsided by some unexpected news. His family is moving again -- just to the other side of the city, as it turns out, but it might as well be the other side of the moon as far as Rex is concerned. In desperation, he secretly starts taking public transit back to his old school -- a plan that works just fine until he runs out of money.

When his sister Annie catches him stealing change from his mum's purse, sisterly blackmail becomes another problem. Not only that, but Rex has got on the bad side of Spew, the hockey thug bully from his old school, and Spew and his sidekicks Puke and Dribble are out to get Rex -- and they know where he lives. Rex ends up using his wits and lively imagination to get himself out of his pickle, with some sobering and surprising consequences.

About the author

TIM WYNNE-JONES is one of Canada's foremost writers for children. The author of over thirty-five books, he is a two-time winner of the Governor General's Award, as well as a two-time winner of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award and of the Arthur Ellis Award. His short-story collections include Some of the Kinder Planets, Book of Changes and Lord of the Fries. He is also known for his Rex Zero series. Recently, he wrote the young-adult novels The Ruinous Sweep; Emperor of Any Place, which earned seven starred reviews; and Blink & Caution, which won the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award. Tim is also the recipient of the Edgar Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work. In 2012, he was made an Officer to the Order of Canada. He lives in Perth, Ontario.


Tim Wynne-Jones' profile page


  • Commended, Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Books: Historical Fiction
  • Commended, Resource Links' Year's Best

Editorial Reviews

...funny, wise and true...Wynne Jones is a dab hand at depicting the bizarre logic and comfortable strangeness of family...

Toronto Star entertaining picaresque tale of what life might have been like for a particularly imaginative every-boy in Ottawa nearly a half a century ago.

Quill & Quire

...shot through with affectionate humour...[The Rex Zero series] are Canadian Classics, recommended for youth and adults alike...Wynne-Jones depicts the mayhem that is family life and growing up with comic spirit and ebullient vigour...has the gift of using plaing short words in an extraordinary way, jolting into life the slightest of details with little words...often hilarious...

Toronto Star

Genuinely wholesome, packed with affectionate humor, tension and joy.

Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Perfect pacing, brilliant dialogue and characterization, and a hero of whom almost anyone would want to be a friend are just a few of Wynne Jones's trademarks as a novelist, and The Great Pretender wears all of them in full fig.

Globe and Mail

Librarian Reviews

Rex Zero, The Great Pretender

As Rex gets excited about starting Grade 7 with his friends, his parents decide to move across the city. He hatches a plan, requiring lying and stealing, to stay at his school. Rex is also plotting revenge against a bully. Is Rex too close to the brink?

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2010.

Other titles by Tim Wynne-Jones