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The Boy in the Box: Master Melville's…

The Boy in the Box: Master Melville's Medicine Show (edition 2012)

by Cary Fagan

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194537,190 (3.56)None
Title:The Boy in the Box: Master Melville's Medicine Show
Authors:Cary Fagan
Info:Clarion Books (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:PSC Review copies

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The Boy in the Box: Master Melville's Medicine Show by Cary Fagan



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Sullivan Mintz lives with his mom, dad and younger sister and the residents of Stardust, a old folks home they own. The Mintz family always has financial troubles and it does not look like it’s going to go away anytime soon. Sullivan wants to help earn money, but the only thing he can do is juggle. His family does not appreciate it. Sullivan finds his way to a magic show that comes into town and ends up kidnapped by them. Master Melville makes a habit of kidnapping children to work in his show. His sister and his 81 year old friend set off to find Sullivan. In the meantime Sullivan makes some good friends named, Esmerelda, Clarence and Fredrick. They become his pseudo-family, while he plots to get back to his real family. He does love the juggling part and tries to make the best of his situation.

The story is told from multiple points of view in the third person. It takes place in a contemporary small town. It does deal with issues of bullying, kidnapping and financial problems. Nothing is too scary or graphic. I would say that it is appropriate for a middle or upper elementary school library. The story has an abrupt ending that was supposed to lead into a trilogy. There has been a sequel published that ended the story (no 3rd book is currently planned). I think that the book is an additional purchase for a school library and it would be good to buy the second one as well to give closure to readers. I agree with some of the other reviews that this book had a bit of a slow start. The book was not really for me, but I am sure some younger readers would enjoy the idea of a travelling show. ( )
  kmjanek | Oct 15, 2015 |
From October 2012 SLJ:
Gr 4-7:�Sullivan Mintz, 11, fades into the background at school and at home. He has a passion for juggling, but he can't imagine performing before an audience. Things change, though, when an old-fashioned caravan makes its way through Beanfield. Attending the evening medicine show in secret with his little sister, Jinny, Sullivan is mesmerized by Master Melville and the children who perform amazing magical and acrobatic feats, and it seems only natural to show Melville his own juggling skills. Before he quite understands how, Sullivan finds himself abducted by Melville and his wife, joining other kidnapped children. While making a quick escape out of town, the Melvilles leave Sullivan's jacket near a rushing river, leading the boy's parents and the police to believe that he drowned. After the police have closed their file, though, Jinny convinces her parents to let her travel with 81-year-old Manny Morgenstern, who lives at the home they operate, and try to track her brother down. Over several weeks, as the unlikely sleuths get closer to finding him, Sullivan becomes more drawn to the life of a traveling performer, and, as the story ends, he is feeling as if he has found a place where he belongs. Fagan creates wonderfully engaging characters and tackles some tough issues: bullying, abduction, grief at a child's disappearance. However, the abrupt ending is disappointing. As a stand-alone that addressed the mysteries of the Melvilles in a little more depth, this novel could have been something special. As it is, there are too many unanswered questions but not enough of a hook to keep readers in suspense for a sequel. ( )
  KimJD | Apr 8, 2013 |
Although there is lots to think about in this book---motives for bullying, the need to belong and relationships between the elderly and children, the abrupt, unresolved ending is unsettling. Obviously this is the first of a series. Sullivan is kidnapped by a man and woman who run a medicine show. He's forced to perform. He's been ignored at school and bullied as well. He feels he suffers the same at home where his parents run a home for the aged and his younger sister garners the most attention. Despite the treatment of the three other children and him in the medicine show, he comes to feel its home. Is this sort of a children's version of the Stockholm Syndrome? ( )
  brangwinn | Jan 27, 2013 |
For the most part I enjoyed this book. It is a story of a boy, Sullivan Mintz, who helps his parents barely keep together a home for the aged. He is a lonely boy. He has only two friends. Norval is an acquaintance from school who is picked on almost as much as Sullivan. His other friend is Manny, an 81 year old widower living in the old folks home. He is teaching Sullivan to juggle. One night as a strange looking caravan passes near the old folks home, Sullivan feels a mysterious enchantment pulling him toward the vagabond medicine show. What child hasn't dreamed of getting away from home and performing amazing tricks before an audience while living the gypsy life. But the dream changes to a nightmare when Sullivan is tricked into a supposed magical box, locked up, and spirited away from his home and family. He is forced into the life of a prisoner who must perform in the traveling medicine show with other youngsters. He is left to wonder if he will ever see his family again. I did not like the the eventual ending. I'm not even sure it did end. It just kind of stopped. If this is part of a serialized story, the publisher should make it plain somewhere in the advertising that this is in fact the case. Otherwise there are going to be many disappointed young readers looking for a satisfying ending that is not there. This book provided for review by Amazon Vine and the well read folks at Clarion Books. ( )
  Ronrose1 | Sep 9, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0547752687, Hardcover)

“If you always feel fully and completely happy, my friends, then you do not need my drops and I will not sell them to you for any amount of money.” —Master Melville
Eleven-year-old juggling enthusiast Sullivan Mintz helps his family run the Stardust Home for Old People. It’s not ideal: his best friend, Manny, is eighty-one years old. But life as usual turns upside down when Master Melville’s Medicine Show comes to town. Sullivan’s excitement at finding performers his own age dissolves into dread when he steps onstage for a magic act only to wake up imprisoned in the traveling show’s caravan. As his fears subside, his questions multiply. Is his family better off without him? Would life as a juggler performing with other kids be worse than living in an old folks’ home? Being kidnapped could be the best thing that ever happened to him . . . or decidedly not.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:47 -0400)

A charming, humor- and heart-filled middle grade story of a misfit boy who finds an unexpected second life after being kidnapped by a colorful traveling medicine show.

(summary from another edition)

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