About the Author

Tim Wynne-Jones

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.

Books by this Author
A Thief in the House of Memory

A Thief in the House of Memory

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Pounce de Leon

Pounce de Leon

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also available: Hardcover
tagged : cats, friendship
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Rex Zero, King of Nothing

Rex Zero, King of Nothing

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Rosie Backstage

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also available: Hardcover
tagged : theater
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Some of the Kinder Planets

Some of the Kinder Planets

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tagged : short stories
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Stephen Fair /epub

Stephen Fair /epub

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The Boy in the Burning House

The Boy in the Burning House

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The Emperor of Any Place
Excerpt

Evan stands at the door to his father’s study. Thereis a sign at eye level: THE DOCKYARD. It was a present he gave to his father ast Christmas,made of cork so that if the house sank, at least the sign would still float. Their little joke.

He raises his hand to knock— a habit he can begin to unlearn. So much of grief is unlearning. He opens the door, steps inside, and takes a shallow breath, afraid of what might belingering on the air. But there are only the old familiar smells:Royal Lime aftershave, glue, sawdust.

This is where he found him.

He thought his father had fallen asleep. The only sign thatanything was wrong was the new model ship lying on its side on the carpet. His father had finished it the evening before—fourteen days ago. Evan had picked up the ship; it wasn’t damaged. He found a space for it on the shelf with the other ships,a couple dozen of them. He placed it there to join his father’s bottled armada. “Not so grand as an armada,” his father had once said. “More like a flotilla.”

Clifford E. Griffin III, a modest man.

It was strange doing that, picking up the boat and placing itcarefully on the shelf, pretending his father was asleep behindhim. Only asleep. There was no blood, no sign of a struggle, just the boat in its bottleon its side on the floor. And his father pitched over his desk, his face strained, his eyelids and jaw tense,rigor mortis setting in. He even died modestly.

Hypertrophiccardiomyopathy. The muscle of his heart had been thickening. Evan had watched his father rub his chest afair bit, the look on his face more annoyance than pain. And he would get short of breath when he was gardening. That was about it.

And then that was it.

Fourteen days ago. No — fifteen. Now Evan moves into the room, heads over to the desk,the chair pushed back so hard against the wall by the paramedics that it left a dent in the plaster just under the window. The chair is still there up against the wall. The plants on the sill are dead. One more thing Evan has forgotten to do. There are dried leaves on the floor.

The ambulance arrived thirteen minutes after he called 911.The fire truck got there three minutes faster. Evan stood shivering at the open front door in his boxers and T-shirt, watching the cartoon-red ladder truck pull into the driveway, wondering whether he’d somehow called the wrong number. Huge men, dressed for putting out fires, piled out of the vehicle, sniffed the air, looked up into the early morning haze for smoke or flames— the kind of stuff they were good at. Then two of them set off at a run around the perimeter of the house— one this way, one that— while three of them entered, so large, they seemed to fill up the place and suck out all the air. Evan thought maybe he was suffocating.

One of them checked out the Dockyard. Another one found a blanket somewhere and wrapped Evan up in it, made him sit in the living room, trembling even though it was July. The third fireman brought him water in a glass from the kitchen.

“Is there someone we should call?”

Evan shook his head. His dad was retired now, so he wasn’ tgoing to be late for work. Oh! The fireman meant family:another parent or auntie,an older sibling— that kind of someone. But there really wasn’t anyone. Not one he could think of right then, that is— right at that precise moment. Just him and Dad.

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The Maestro

The Maestro

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The Starlight Claim
Excerpt

1. The Dream
 
The dream was waiting for him. Dodge Hoebeek under a thick sheet of crystal-?clear ice, his eyes wide open, his fingers scraping at the glassy ceiling above him, his mouth screaming, bubbles pouring out, and his long blond hair trailing behind him in the black water.
Then somehow the streaming bubbles formed themselves into words. “You gotta come, man! You owe me!” And Nate, kneeling on the ice above his friend, his bare hands flat on the surface?—?frozen to the surface?—???tried to speak but couldn’t, as though he were the one who was drowning.
“You owe me, Nate! It’s your fault!”
“I’m sorry!” Nate shouted. “I’m so sorry!”
It was like he was looking into a warped carnival mirror, unable to say anything, unable to do anything except throw his head back and howl.
He woke up, his heart beating like a two-?stroke engine. Had he really howled? He listened to the ticking stillness. No one was coming, so maybe not. Last fall he’d howled, good and loud. He’d woken, time and time again, with his head pressed to his mother’s chest, her arms around him, his father standing just behind her, his hand on her shoulder, strong and calm.
“I’ve got to find him,” Nate would say. And his mother would shush him. And he’d yell at her. “No! You don’t understand. He needs me. He’s waiting for me up there!” Eventually he would wear himself out. “It’s all my fault,” he’d say. “It’s all my fault.” His voice would grow hoarse and the tears would come and finally he’d lay his head back down on his pillow. His mother would fuss with the covers as if he were a five­year?­old, touch her fingers to her lips and place them on his forehead, a benediction. Then she’d leave the room. But his father would stand there in the dark. Stand guard until he fell asleep. Stand there as long as it took.
 
 
 
2. Escape
 
It was a daring escape. “Brazen escape,” the TV anchorman called it. Nate watched as two jailbirds attempted to climb a knotted rope hanging from a helicopter.
“Is this for real?” said Nate. His father nodded, his eyes glued to the television. “So how come if they’re filming it, nobody’s trying to stop them?”
“CCTV,” said his father.
Nate leaned against the doorjamb at the entrance to the den. It was late. He was in his pajama bottoms and a ratty Lockerby Vikings T-?shirt. The men weren’t getting very far on their climb toward the chopper. They were about as athletic as a ­couple of filing cabinets.
“Not exactly James Bond,” said Nate.
His father chuckled.
The helicopter began to rise with the two guys hanging on for dear life. Up, up they rose toward the roofline of the jail that surrounded the yard on all four sides. The closed-?circuit camera was in a fixed position, and soon enough the dangling criminals were whisked out of view. And then there was a new camera in play, the TV station camera, presumably, outside the jail. But there were no criminals or helicopter in sight, obviously. This was later. The camera was following the path the helicopter might have taken across a city covered in snow.
“Whoa!” said Nate as the scenery beyond the enclosed compound came into view. “Is that here?”
His father nodded. “The Sudbury Jail.”
There were other shots of police roadblocks on various highways out of town, and then the news returned to the talking head with the frozen image of the escape on a screen behind him. Nate’s dad pushed the mute button.
“I don’t blame them one bit,” he said.
“The convicts?”
“Uh­huh. That place is disgusting. Overcrowded, understaffed. And the mice? The place is completely infested.”
Nate stared at his father. “Dad, is there something you want to tell me?”
His father held up his hands. “Busted,” he said. “Yeah, I spent some time in the stony lonesome.”
“Really?”
The grin gave him away. “Only as a visitor.”
“Oh,” said Nate, relieved but sort of disappointed. Burl Crow was the most decent, upstanding guy imaginable. It would be kind of cool if he had a shady past. Then again, maybe he did. “Visiting who?”
His father shook his head slowly, back and forth. He was looking toward the television but he had one of those thousand-?yard stares on his face, the kind of blank, unfocused gaze of someone looking into the past. Then he snapped out of it.
“What are you doing up?” he said.
“Uh?­uh,” said Nate. “You’re not getting off the hook that easy.”
His father raised his eyebrows, trying to look parentally threatening but missing by a mile. Then he patted the couch next to him. Nate slouched into the room and sat down.
“My dad,” said Burl. “Your grandfather.”
“Oh, right.” Nate had never met his grandfather, but he knew a bit about him. The burn on his father’s right arm: that was thanks to Calvin Crow.
“What was he in for?”
His father laughed. “You name it. Arson for one thing, drunk and disorderly, aggravated assault, petty larceny?—not?­so-?petty larceny.”
“What’s larceny?”
“Taking what isn’t yours. That’s my old man to a T.” He put his hands together thoughtfully. “He was a thug, ­Nathaniel. Bad news.”
“Did he die?”
“Haven’t heard.”
Nate frowned. “When was the last time you saw him?”
His father shrugged. “Five or six years ago, I guess. He was in for carjacking that time. He wanted me to bail him out and I had to draw the line. Not anymore. We’re done.”
He turned to Nate and tapped him on the knee. “What’s up, son? I thought you went to bed an hour ago.”
Nate let his head flop back onto the top of the couch. Closed his eyes.

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War at the Snow White Motel and Other Stories
Excerpt

The swimming pool is shaped like a heart. No, wait — it’s an apple. Of course! The poisonous apple Snow White took a bite of that sent her into a coma. Sort of weird, really, when you think about it. Who’d want to swim in a poisonous pool? No one by the look of it. The pool is empty. All that delicious coolness just lying there, sparkling in the late afternoon sun.…

Poison or not, alligators or not, I’m hot and I want into that pool. I head straight for the diving board, take as big a bounce as I can off the end and cannonball into the water.

Splash!

I drift down into the blue coolness, my eyes wide open. Glug, glug, glug. There is only watery sunlight down here, as if the sun was a big yellow china ball that someone smashed into little shards and sprinkled on the blue tile floor. My goggles aren’t on tight enough and water seeps inside, so with a little kick off the bottom I drift to the surface.

“Hey, you!”

A voice booms above me. I grab the lip of the pool. I also grab a mouthful of water, which makes me cough and cough. There is a large pair of hairy feet planted right beside my hand. I look up, my vision all swimmy through goggles full of water — way up, past a pair of Superman legs, a pair of yellow bathing trunks with palm trees on them, a chest big enough to pitch a tent on, to a face glaring down at me as if I am a toad and the only thing stopping him from squashing me is that he doesn’t have his toad-squashing boots on. Then I see the comic book in his hand. It’s sopping wet.

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Zoom at Sea

Zoom at Sea

by Tim Wynne-Jones
illustrated by Eric Beddows
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also available: Hardcover
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Zoom Away

by Tim Wynne-Jones
illustrated by Eric Beddows
edition:Paperback
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