The Boys of San Joaquin

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About The Book

Paolo calls Rufus "a Mack truck with no one driving." Rufus is the O'Neil family dog, and he shows up one morning with part of a twenty-dollar bill in his teeth.

Twelve-year-old Paolo figures that there must be more where that bill came from, and since his cousin Billy needs to repair a bent wheel on his bike, there's a reason for looking. Soon Paolo, his brother Georgie, and Billy end up in the monsignor's garden behind the Cathedral of San Joaquin, but it's not exactly treasure they find, it's a hand that shoots out of the undergrowth to grab Paolo's neck. The search for the stash leads the boys -- sometimes scared spitless -- on many a byway around Orange Grove City, California, in the summer of 1951. And onto the byway of conscience.

About The Author
Photograph courtesy of the author

D. James Smith lives in California, where he studied with poet Philip Levine. A recipient of a fellowship in creative writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, his work appears frequently in literary magazines, most recently, The Amherst Review, New Millennium Writings, the Notre Dame Review, and Stand. His previous books include a collection of poems, Prayers for the Dead Ventriloquist, and an adult novel, My Brother's Passion.

His novels for younger readers are Fast Company and his first book about Paolo and friends, The Boys of San Joaquin.

Product Details
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (June 2006)
  • Length: 240 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781416916192
  • Grades: 3 - 7
  • Ages: 9 - 12

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Raves and Reviews

"The Boys of San Joaquin is my kind of book. Smith is a writer that I'm going to keep an eye on."
-- Gary Paulsen

"With this book, Smith joins Richard Peck and Bruce Clements in the select company of latter-day ya writers who can be mentioned in the same sentence as Mark Twain." -- Washington Post

"[An] offbeat mystery . . . [This] novel weaves themes of conscience, loyalty, and family for a poignant effect." -- Family Fun

"A standout choice for reading aloud or for curling up with to enjoy alone." -- Bulletin

Awards and Honors
  • NYPL 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
  • Chicago Public Library's Best of the Best
  • California Collections
  • Eureka! CA in Children's Literature List
  • Edgar Allan Poe Award
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