Reviews for Rex Zero, the Great Pretender


Booklist Reviews 2010 December #1
In the latest installment in the series that began with Rex Zero and the End of the World (2007), the eponymous middle-grader in Ottawa, Canada, is now 12. It's 1963, and Rex is furious that his family is moving again, and that he has to leave his friends and school. He lies and steals in protest, but he also feels guilty: his problem seems pretty stupid compared with what is going on in the civil rights demonstrations. With a strong sense of the times, Rex's immediate, first-person narrative is funny and touching about the universal drama of trying to fit in. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

----------------------
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
Rex's family is moving--again. It's just across town, but to a new school district. So, he concocts a scheme: he'll pretend to go to his new school but leave home early and show up at his old one. Wynne-Jones's gift for understatement, intelligent humor, and sharp characterization serves this third installment well as Rex must handle many issues of growing up. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

----------------------
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #6
Rex Norton-Norton can't believe it. He's moving. Again. He's twelve years old, and this will be the eighth house he has lived in. The move is just across town, but to a new school district, which means leaving his friends, the best friends in the world, behind...unless, maybe, he can come up with a plan. So, he concocts a scheme: he'll pretend to be going to his new school but leave home early each morning, lock his bike on Fairmont Street, take the number six bus, transfer to the number two, and be at his old school in forty minutes. But the pretending, lying, and even stealing money from his mother's purse for bus fare torment Rex, as does the school bully, Stew (a.k.a. "Spew") Lessieur and his henchmen, Puke and Dribble. Wynne-Jones's gift for understatement, intelligent humor, and sharp characterization serves this third (and best) installment well as Rex must handle many issues of growing up: How do you leave friends behind and start all over again? How do you stand up to bullies? How do you talk to a girl on the phone? Rex comes to realize that his world is big enough for new friends and old -- and even, perhaps, for ex-bullies -- and readers, too, will be happy that Rex is part of their world. dean schneider Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

----------------------
Kirkus Reviews 2010 September #2

Seventeen-year-old Will is desperate to find meaning in life following the sudden death of his mother. Overwhelmed by the parade of sympathy casseroles, his cynical older brother and a father who is attempting to bury his sorrow in work, Will embarks on a quest to find the answers he needs. His search leads him to the works of famous philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Plato. He tries using drugs and tagging the tunnel walls of the train system. He develops the roll of film he finds in his mother's camera and takes some of his own, which punctuate the text of this Australian import. But it is his new relationship with Taryn, a beautiful and sympathetic friend, that holds the most promise for him. Hills's rich imagery and masterful storytelling come together to create a tale that is both poetic and compelling. Complex and authentic characters drive the narrative forward and keep it from becoming overly sentimental or familiar. Readers will sympathize with Will's heartbreak, revel in his first love and recoil from his anger. A well-crafted story from a new voice. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

----------------------
Kirkus Reviews 2010 October #1

After a childhood spent moving constantly across two countries, Rex wonders why his parents can't settle down. At least this time, Rex and his seven siblings are only moving to the other side of Ottawa. He'll still be switching to a new school, though, which means leaving Kathy, James and Buster at the beginning of grade seven. Rex has a cunning plan: He volunteers to arrange the transfer paperwork as a favor to his exhausted mum and then simply doesn't do it. Sure, he'll spend every scrounged penny on buses, but it'll be worth it. Right? Then why does his life feel so complicated? He's the target of a hockey-playing bully, sister Annie Oakley's cooking up something evil in the garden shed and Mum's acting funny. This 1963 pre-adolescence presents an imperfect world with flaws Rex is just barely beginning to understand. Rex as a narrator is fully in his time: Penny loafers, Hardy Boys novels and gender inequity are all seen through his utterly contemporaneous, completely ingenuous eyes. Genuinely wholesome, packed with affectionate humor, tension and joy. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

----------------------
School Library Journal Reviews 2010 October

Gr 5-8--When Rex Zero finds out that his family is moving yet again, he is devastated. Although the move is only across town, it means that he will start middle school at Connaught instead of at Hopewell with James, Buster, and Kathy. The four friends decide that regardless of the Ottawa City Council's views on zoning, Rex should attend Hopewell as planned. His records have already been sent over there, and when he offers to take his enrollment paperwork to the new school for his mother, she gratefully accepts: the chores of moving households and raising a family of eight are exhausting. In 1963, it is easy enough for the boy to make his enrollment paperwork disappear and to use the crosstown buses to get to Hopewell. The deception is successful for a while, but Rex learns in the process how taxing the life of a pretender can be. Complicating matters are a budding romance with one of his classmates, threats from a bully and his sidekicks, and a secret laboratory experiment that his older sister is conducting in the back shed. Family dynamics and friendships are skillfully fleshed out, with fully developed characters to whom readers will readily relate. The humor of Rex's first-person narration does not diminish Wynne-Jones's ability to deal with tough issues candidly, and the resolution fully satisfies. This title does stand alone, but it will be most appreciated in libraries where Rex already has a strong following.--Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

[Page 129]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

----------------------