The Bamboozlers, by Michael de Guzman, was published in 2005.
The first sentence is: “Albert Rosegarden raced through downtown Mountain View, Idaho, on his bicycle like his tail was being snapped at by a fork of lightning.”
Twelve-year-old Albert is racing home on his bicycle so that he might be able to tell his mother his side of the story before the school calls to tell her that Albert has been suspended.
Albert and his mother, Elly, live in a rented trailer. Elly wishes she had enough money for them to live someplace nicer. Albert wishes he had enough money to send his mother on a vacation.
Albert doesn’t make it home in time. His mother already knows that Albert was suspended for telling his teacher that she has a head shaped like planet Earth.
It wasn’t Albert’s fault. It never is.
Before Elly has a chance to be mad at Albert, she has someone else to be mad at. Her father, Wendell, the grandfather Albert never knew he had, has suddenly arrived.
Wendell is a professional con-man. He swears he’s reformed. Elly tells Albert to not believe a word Wendell says. Albert welcomes his grandfather with open arms, giving him half of his dinner, and a place to stay the night.
The thing Albert can’t figure out is why he has a black grandfather. Wendell explains that he’s “half African American, half Native American, and half Caucasian”.
Wendell carries a violin case. He says it contains a Stradivarius violin, but that no one is ever allowed to look at it.
The next morning, Elly receives a phone call from Albert. He and Wendell are in Boise, at the Anne Frank memorial. Elly demands that they return home immediately. Wendell explains that he merely wants to show Albert some cultural sites before he has to return to school on Tuesday. He plans on taking Albert through Oregon and Washington, and to Seattle. Elly says that if they’re not home by Monday afternoon, she is going to call the police.
Albert and Wendell set off on a road trip in Wendell’s camper bus. Along the way, they meet members of Wendell’s colorful circle of friends. A large man named Big Royal loans Albert a pocket-sized, three-legged dog named Hollywood for the trip.
All along the way, people keep asking Wendell, “How’s the Stradivarius?”
Albert Rosegarden has never been to a city as large as Seattle, Washington.
The Bamboozlers is a sweet little story. It’s a road trip and it’s a mystery. It’s a comedy of slightly exaggerated situations. Part of it takes place in a fictionalized version of Seattle.
I could have read this 167-page book in a single day.
I enjoyed it.
Why I chose this book:
Rebecca is a member of Writers’ Group. She’s more of an illustrator than a writer. She brings her artwork to the group, including book covers she’s designed for a local author named Michael de Guzman. I became curious about whatever is inside Mr. de Guzman’s books, and decided to read one for this category.
I discovered, as I picked up the book from the library, that Rebecca did not design this cover of The Bamboozlers. It was designed by Jim Cooke. I decided to read it anyway.