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The Ballad of Knuckles McGraw

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After eight-year-old Kevin Mason's mother abandons him, he takes refuge in his fantasy of becoming Knuckles McGraw, a tough cowboy roaming the plains on his legendary horse, Burlington Northern. But instead of riding the range, Kevin is stuck in a foster home with a pierced and tattooed teenager named Ice and a mute girl named Breezy. While he waits to be claimed by the fat After eight-year-old Kevin Mason's mother abandons him, he takes refuge in his fantasy of becoming Knuckles McGraw, a tough cowboy roaming the plains on his legendary horse, Burlington Northern. But instead of riding the range, Kevin is stuck in a foster home with a pierced and tattooed teenager named Ice and a mute girl named Breezy. While he waits to be claimed by the father he barely remembers or the mother who left him a good-bye note in his lunchbox, Kevin (aka Knuckles McGraw) tries to communicate with Breezy, learns to get along with his bunkhouse-mate Ice, and discovers that memories can be as deceptive as family secrets.


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After eight-year-old Kevin Mason's mother abandons him, he takes refuge in his fantasy of becoming Knuckles McGraw, a tough cowboy roaming the plains on his legendary horse, Burlington Northern. But instead of riding the range, Kevin is stuck in a foster home with a pierced and tattooed teenager named Ice and a mute girl named Breezy. While he waits to be claimed by the fat After eight-year-old Kevin Mason's mother abandons him, he takes refuge in his fantasy of becoming Knuckles McGraw, a tough cowboy roaming the plains on his legendary horse, Burlington Northern. But instead of riding the range, Kevin is stuck in a foster home with a pierced and tattooed teenager named Ice and a mute girl named Breezy. While he waits to be claimed by the father he barely remembers or the mother who left him a good-bye note in his lunchbox, Kevin (aka Knuckles McGraw) tries to communicate with Breezy, learns to get along with his bunkhouse-mate Ice, and discovers that memories can be as deceptive as family secrets.

34 review for The Ballad of Knuckles McGraw

  1. 5 out of 5

    Loranne

    Another YA winner by my friend Lois Peterson. Funny, sad, insightful.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Canadian Children's Book Centre

    Reviewed by Sandra O’Brien Kevin Mason arrives at school one day with a note in his lunch box that reads “Please look after my son I can’t take care of him anymore.” After showing the note to the school principal Kevin finds himself being taken to a foster home. There he meets Joe and Liddy, an eccentric older couple with a mute granddaughter and ICE, his pierced and chain-clad roommate. To cope with his situation, Kevin fantasizes he is Knuckles McGraw, a cowboy who wanders freely with his horse Reviewed by Sandra O’Brien Kevin Mason arrives at school one day with a note in his lunch box that reads “Please look after my son I can’t take care of him anymore.” After showing the note to the school principal Kevin finds himself being taken to a foster home. There he meets Joe and Liddy, an eccentric older couple with a mute granddaughter and ICE, his pierced and chain-clad roommate. To cope with his situation, Kevin fantasizes he is Knuckles McGraw, a cowboy who wanders freely with his horse Burlington Northern. When Kevin’s grandparents arrive, he is faced with a decision. He must decide to stay with this odd foster family where his mom will know where to find him or move to Edmonton with his grandparents whom he doesn’t remember meeting. Kevin decides on the latter after he realizes the man in one of his fondest childhood memories was his grandfather and that his grandfather can teach him all about being a cowboy. Kevin decides even a cowboy needs family. In The Ballad of Knuckles McGraw, Lois Peterson writes a humorous yet sensitive story of a young boy who is abandoned by his mother. She fills the story with a host of characters who are unusual yet kind and as we hear their stories we develop empathy for each of them. Peterson has kept the chapters short and the vocabulary fairly simple so that young readers are engaged but not overly challenged. This novel is suitable for children in the late primary and early junior grades. Canadian Children's Book News (Summer 2010, Vol. 33, No. 3)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Bird

    A sweet little book, aimed at 8-12 year olds, that explores foster care. The protagonist has an alter ego, cowboy Knuckles McGraw, who helps him as he sorts out his feelings about his mom taking off, and finding himself in the system. Realistic look at how people cope in a variety ways, and nothing is easy. I liked it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sylvia

    A story about loss, insecurity, and finding your own strength. A boy abandoned by his mom and put into foster care meets up with an unusual family - 'till his grandparents from Edmonton come to claim him. A story about loss, insecurity, and finding your own strength. A boy abandoned by his mom and put into foster care meets up with an unusual family - 'till his grandparents from Edmonton come to claim him.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tami

    i realy need to read this book

  6. 4 out of 5

    Missy

    Mature themes explored in this book in a way that is very age-appropriate. Would be wonderful for children in foster care. Good character development. Short. Well done.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Yolanda Ridge

    I love the character and the story line - especially the ending which is realistic but does not disappoint.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

  9. 4 out of 5

    Erica

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ann

  11. 5 out of 5

    Paige

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jastin

  13. 4 out of 5

    Monica Provan

  14. 4 out of 5

    Julie Ferguson

    A delightful book for 8-10 year-olds. Great POV and deals with a tough problem well.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Linda Crosfield

  16. 5 out of 5

    Magnetawanfarmers

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

  18. 5 out of 5

    Diane

  19. 4 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

  20. 5 out of 5

    PennyD

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dhuvaraha

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Mcconnell

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Watson

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mehjabeen

  25. 4 out of 5

    Portia

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kellie

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sam

  28. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Asad Uqaili

  31. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Couturier

  32. 4 out of 5

    Beiza

  33. 5 out of 5

    F4 and F3/4

  34. 5 out of 5

    Deirdre

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