Duck Boy by Bill Bunn
middle school & up
Steve's mom disappeared mysteriously a few years ago. Now Steve has to spend Christmas with a great-aunt while his dad is away on business. The aunt is a little bit odd and convinced that alchemy is the key to solving the disappearance. Steve just thinks she's crazy until she shows him that alchemy really does work. He begins practicing and soon realizes that his great-aunt may not be crazy after all. There may be a chance to bring his mother back.
I liked Steve. Especially because of the way he earned the nickname "Duck Boy." That whole scene just completely got me on Steve's side. Great-aunt was amusing too. Oddly enough, I wasn't impressed with Great-uncle. Considering that Great-uncle spent the majority of the book reading you'd think I would have liked him more. I told you it was odd. Steve and his dad were my favorites.
At times, the dialogue felt a little bit stilted. It didn't detract from the story too much though. It has plenty of action and a boy protagonist. I think it would be a real hit with middle school boys. It actually has potential as a "gateway" book for those kids who haven't really gotten into reading.