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
Pounce de Leon

Pounce de Leon

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also available: Hardcover
tagged : cats, friendship
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Rex Zero and the End of the World

Rex Zero and the End of the World

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also available: Paperback
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Rex Zero, King of Nothing

Rex Zero, King of Nothing

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Rex Zero, the Great Pretender

Rex Zero, the Great Pretender

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Rosie Backstage

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also available: Hardcover
tagged : theater
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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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also available: Paperback
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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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The Uninvited
Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

MIMI MISSED HER TURN and screeched to a stop.
"Shit!"
She checked the map on the seat beside her, backed up, and squinted through her own dust at the signpost.
Uppe V lenti e Rd.
"Close enough."
A deep-throated bark seized her attention. A gargantuan dog was tearing toward her from the dilapidated house on the corner.
"Shit!"
The animal bounced up and down at her door, brindle and with far too many yellow teeth. She threw the Mini Cooper into reverse again and slewed to the left, almost hitting the ugly mutt.
"Take that, Hellhound!"
Then she thrust the stick shift forward and left the paved road, sending out a rooster tail of gravel.
Undaunted, the dog stayed on her tail - stayed with her for a hundred yards or so - then finally fell behind, his territory no longer in danger.
Mimi took a deep breath and patted the leather-upholstered steering wheel. "Ms. Cooper, we are now officially not in Kansas," she said. And the Mini's horn beeped twice in reply.
The little car was red with a black top, and Mimi had red shades and black hair. She wore a red T-back sports bra and black low-rise capris, as if the car were an accessory. Well, it was small, after all. Like Mimi - small and powerful.
Gripping the wheel tightly in her left hand, she picked up her digital camcorder from the passenger seat and held it at arm's length, aimed at her face.
"News update," she said. "This is Mimi Shapiro reporting from Nowhere!" She swiveled the wine-red JVC HDD around to take in the countryside: the empty dirt road stretching out before her, the overgrown borders and broken-down fences, the unkempt and empty fields, the desolate forest beyond them.
"Not a Starbucks in sight," she said, returning the camcorder to her face. "What do you think, Chet? Have we actually entered the Land that Time Forgot?"
"Well, Mimi," she replied in a low and amiable TV sidekick kind of voice. "you'd think the officials at the border might have warned us about this, wouldn't you? 'Welcome to Canada. Sorry we're out right now.'"
She put the camcorder down in order to negotiate a long S turn, and there up ahead - just to prove her wrong - two huge mud-stained trucks were pulled over onto the shoulder, nose to nose. Farmer One leaned on the driver's side door of Farmer Two. With both hands on the wheel, Mimi swerved around them, glad to be driv ing such a small and responsive vehicle. Both men wore ball caps, which they tipped as she flew by. They took her all in with their shaded eyes, and she wished she hadn't taken her shirt off back at the rest stop on 401.
"Oh, Ms. Cooper," she muttered. "What have we gotten ourselves into?"
She had left New York City yesterday morning and stayed overnight just outside Albany. Then bright and early this morning - way earlier than she was used to - she had set her compass due north, and here she was, though with every passing mile she wondered if maybe Marc had been lying to her. He was hardly the world's most reliable father.
"Almost there," she told herself, to calm her misgivings.
She glanced into her rearview mirror, half expecting Clem and Jed to be on her tail. She imagined them hopping into their trucks to follow the half-naked girl in the toy car. Yee-haw! But the road was empty behind her. She crested a hill. There was a house ahead, though it was hard to tell if anyone still lived in it.
She whooshed by the driveway, where an old woman with an even older dog was collecting the mail from her mailbox. The woman glanced Mimi's way, clutching a letter to her flat chest, glaring at the girl as she flew by. She was wearing a ball cap, too.
"Got to get me one of those," said Mimi.
The road was climbing now. On her right she caught the odd glimpse through the trees of a river - the Eden, she hoped, though it wasn't as impressive as Marc had led her to believe. She wouldn't put it past him to turn a creek into a river. She wouldn't put anything past him.
Lost Creek. She had seen a piece in the Tate Modern by the American artist Kathy Prendergast. It was called Lost and it was a map of the United States, but the places marked were all lost places: Lost Valley, Lost Hills, Lost Swamp, Lost Creek. All these lost places. She wondered if Prendergast had done a map of the lost places of Canada. She could use it about now. Or GPS.
A magical place, Marc had said. It wasn't the kind of word he used very often. A place to get your thoughts together.
Just then her cell phone started playing "Bohemian Rhapsody." She found it under the map, looked at the number, and threw the cell phone down. It stopped after a while but then started up a few minutes later.
"Fuck off, Lazar Cosic!" she shouted. "What part of 'leave me alone' don't you understand?"
Then she pulled the map out from under the cell phone and laid it on top. Ontario was a big province - seven times bigger than the Empire State. Surely you could escape someone in a place this large? She pressed a little harder on the accelerator.
Now the road began a lazy decline, and soon she was in the bowl of a wooded valley. Towering maples made a tunnel of the road ahead, though she could see late-afternoon sunlight glinting through the canopy, tinting the leaves with gold as if she had traveled right through summer into fall. She shuddered at the thought. Shuddered at the coolness of this leafy tunnel. She tried to reach her shirt on the backseat but swerved dangerously and gave up. There wasn't a lot of road to work with. Then she was out in the open again, and there was a flurry of tilting and rusted-out mailboxes. And then nothing . . .
In all fairness, Marc had described much of this, but he had never really gotten across the isolation of the place. But that's...

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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
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover
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Zoom Away

Deluxe Ed
by Tim Wynne-Jones
illustrated by Eric Beddows
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
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