Orca Book Publishers

Browse by Category

Fiction Ages 9-12
Pages: 136
Themes: Friendship, old age, responsibility
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date: 01/Oct/2011
Bookmark and Share
After almost drowning in a swollen creek, Wes wonders if what his friend Zach says is true: Wes owes a life debt to the old lady who rescued him. It doesn't help that Wes keeps hearing his dead father's voice saying things like, "A man pays his debts, Wes," and "A man always treats a woman with respect, Wes." But how does a guy go about paying back a life debt anyway? And what if it involves a transmission tower, an ice-cream truck and a few sticks of dynamite?

"The plot moves quickly from one humorous situation to another. Quirky but believable characters populate the small Canadian town, giving a yesteryear feel to a modern story. With its slim length, fast pace, and humor, this title will appeal to a wide range of readers."
CM Magazine
"An entertaining book...The strong moral message in the book will delight the readers' parents, but Hyde manages to make her point without being preachy, and Wes is a fairly normal 11-year old boy to whom who children will relate. The plot moves along quickly, and the writing is appropriate to this age group, making it a great choice for children, especially boys, in this age group. Highly Recommended."
Resource Links
"A fun-filled 'house-that-jack-built' story of connections, both logistical and emotional...It is seldom that a text written simply, for younger readers, makes me both giggle and tear up. Natalie Hyde has created characters with humourous traits, realistic flaws, and yet a sense of integrity and community that restore one's faith in people. There is sufficient suspense and juvenile pranks to grip young readers' imaginations...A text that is as rewarding to give to a child as it will be for the child to read."
Tacoma School District #10
"Lessons about persistence, consequences, and following in your father's footsteps are intertwined throughout this story. A great addition for upper elementary."
Waterloo Region Record
"[Hyde's] storytelling abilities are evident in this easy-to-read tale."
NJ Youth Services
"Can be enjoyed by young readers as well as reluctant older readers. There are enough twists and explosions to keep the story interesting."


CYBIL Award nominee  | 2011 | Short-listed
Resource Links "The Year's Best"  | 2011 | Commended
Silver Birch Express Award nomination  | 2013 | Short-listed
CCBC Best Books  | 2012 | Commended


Download teacher guide

Ebooks available from the following retailers: