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Rex Zero, The Great Pretender by Tim…
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Rex Zero, The Great Pretender

by Tim Wynne-Jones

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October 2010 SLJ-
Gr 5-8–When Rex Zero finds out that his family is moving yet again, he is devastated. Although the move is only across town, it means that he will start middle school at Connaught instead of at Hopewell with James, Buster, and Kathy. The four friends decide that regardless of the Ottawa City Council’s views on zoning, Rex should attend Hopewell as planned. His records have already been sent over there, and when he offers to take his enrollment paperwork to the new school for his mother, she gratefully accepts: the chores of moving households and raising a family of eight are exhausting. In 1963, it is easy enough for the boy to make his enrollment paperwork disappear and to use the crosstown buses to get to Hopewell. The deception is successful for a while, but Rex learns in the process how taxing the life of a pretender can be. Complicating matters are a budding romance with one of his classmates, threats from a bully and his sidekicks, and a secret laboratory experiment that his older sister is conducting in the back shed. Family dynamics and friendships are skillfully fleshed out, with fully developed characters to whom readers will readily relate. The humor of Rex’s first-person narration does not diminish Wynne-Jones’s ability to deal with tough issues candidly, and the resolution fully satisfies. This title does stand alone, but it will be most appreciated in libraries where Rex already has a strong following.–Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA ( )
  KimJD | Apr 8, 2013 |
Rex Zero is a novel that takes place in the setting of Ottawa Canada. Rex is an eleven year old boy who desires to become a detective one day, and his journey begins with a black book he finds one Sunday afternoon. Rex decides to make an attempt to solve his first mystery by contacting someone he thinks he knows from school, but his classmate is not enthusiastic about finding the black books or address book’s owner. Rex shares his mystery with his friends and they take turns calling people in the address book only to find that most of the numbers are businesses. Then finally Rex gets someone on the phone. The person sounds afraid and a bit mysterious. Rex and one of his friends go to the address in the book and find a beautiful woman named Natasha, who seems sad. They find out that her husband is beating her and that he is spying on her. Rex and his friends have another problem to solve at school, one of their classmates was beaten by a strap as he was made to seem that he said something he didn’t. The teacher is mean and the friends decide to do something about it. Kathy is part of the group, and doesn’t like her mother dating and thinks that they should send an indirect love letter to their teacher from her mother’s boyfriend. Rex types up a letter and mails it out. Their teacher receives the letter and is furious. She gives her students a chance to confess and is certain who has done it. Then she has a heart attack after Rex and Kathy tell her they did it and are about to receive a beating by the strap, when their friends stand beside them and tell her to do the same to them. Ms. Garr survives and moves to another school. The friends stand up to Natasha’s husband and he leaves after they stand together and confront him. ( )
  Mitzi.Galvez | Mar 29, 2012 |
Although this is not an uncommon theme...unhappy childhood, moving a lot, dealing with bullies...I liked the way Tim Wynne-Jones used the 60's to set the story. We were reminded of traditional family values being revered and the innocence of first love. I felt myself rooting for Rex in his crazy schemes and hoping for the best. ( )
  heby | Oct 17, 2010 |
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In 1963, when his family moves across town to a new school district in Ottawa, Canada, twelve-year-old Rex conspires with best friends James, Kathy, and Buster to attend the school in his old neighborhood.

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