The Charlatan's Boy

The Charlatan's Boy

by Jonathan Rogers

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Overview

“I only know one man who might be able to tell me where I come from, and that man is a liar and a fraud.” 
 

As far back as he can remember, the orphan Grady has tramped from village to village in the company of a huckster named Floyd. With his adolescent accomplice, Floyd perpetrates a variety of hoaxes and flimflams on the good citizens of the Corenwald frontier, such as the Ugliest Boy in the World act.
 
It’s a hard way to make a living, made harder by the memory of fatter times when audiences thronged to see young Grady perform as “The Wild Man of the Feechiefen Swamp.” But what can they do? Nobody believes in feechies anymore.
 
When Floyd stages an elaborate plot to revive Corenwalders’ belief in the mythical swamp-dwellers known as the feechiefolk, he overshoots the mark. Floyd’s Great Feechie Scare becomes widespread panic. Eager audiences become angry mobs, and in the ensuing chaos, the Charlatan’s Boy discovers the truth that has evaded him all his life—and will change his path forever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307458223
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/05/2010
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 699,803
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Jonathan Rogers grew up in Georgia, where he spent many happy hours in the swamps and riverbottoms on which the wild places of The Charlatan’s Boy are based. He received his undergraduate degree from Furman University in South Carolina and holds a Ph.D. in seventeenth-century English literature from Vanderbilt University. He lives with his family in Nashville, Tennessee.

Read an Excerpt

I don’t remember one thing about the day I was born. It hasn’t been for lack of trying either. I’ve set for hours trying to go back as far as I could, but the earliest thing I remember is riding in the back of Floyd’s wagon and looking at myself in a looking glass.

I’ve run across folks claim they know everything about their birthday—where it happened, who they was with, what day it was. But if you really press them on it, turns out they don’t remember no more about it than I do. They only know what somebody told them.

I don’t care who you are—when it comes to knowing where you come from, you got to take somebody else’s word for it. That’s where things has always got ticklish for me. I only know one man who might be able to tell me where I come from, and that man is a liar and a fraud.

Every time I asked Floyd how he got me, he give me a different story. One time he told me he found me squawling under a palmetto bush and took pity on me. That didn’t seem likely since I never known Floyd to take pity on me or anybody else.

Another time he said he bought me from a circus man who was getting out of the business and selling off his animals. Said he mistook me for a monkey and the circus man was gone before he realized he was tricked. Which might explain how he got me, but it still don’t explain why he kept me, does it?

A couple of times Floyd told me my real mama give me to him because I was too ugly to keep. I truly am one of the ugliest fellers you’re liable to meet. I’m short and wiry—sort of monkeyish, I reckon. I got one blue eye and one green, and they’re closer together than most folks find pleasing. Instead of having two eyebrows, I got one long one that don’t know where to stop. My ears is too little, but the way they stick straight out from my head makes them look too big. And my chin is so bashful it just sort of hides all day in the shade of my bottom lip. You can’t even tell where my goozle stops and my chin begins if you don’t look close. If you ever seen the feechiefolks in one of them puppet shows, you know about what I look like. If you want to know the truth, I’m pretty sure that’s why Floyd kept me.

Back when villagers still believed in feechiefolks—which wasn’t that long ago—Floyd made his living by giving lectures about feechies and charging a copper for a look at a genuine, real-live he-feechie. Which was me. He dressed me up in muskrat and possum hides and slopped gray mud all over me the way feechiefolks are said to do, and we went from village to village in that crickety wagon of his, from one end of Corenwald to the other.

When we come to the edge of a town, Floyd stopped the horse so I could get in my box, and he shut me in. It was a wooden crate with air holes drilled in the top. Floyd used to keep his dancing bear in it before I come along, so it was pretty roomish for a scrawny feller like me. Floyd painted the outside with a picture of a blackwater swamp with alligators and craney crows and those swell-bottom cypress trees with graybeard moss hanging down so spooky and lonesome. And words painted all over it:

PERFESSER FLOYD PRESENTS: THE WILD MAN OF THE FEECHIEFEN SWAMP! SEE A GENUINE HE-FEECHIE ALIVE AND IN THE FLESH! AMAZING! ASTONISHING! YOU’VE NEVER SEEN ANYONE LIKE HIM!

There I’d sit while we rode that last mile or so into the village. Sometimes it was so hot the sweat made the mud run down my face and into my eyes, but it was peaceful in there, with the wagon creaking along and little sticks of sunlight poking through the air holes while bugs and little bits of dust floated in the brightness.

Rolling into one of the villages in my box, I felt like I was worth something. Folks in that village was going to give Floyd a copper coin for the pleasure of looking at me. I wasn’t just an ugly little boy with no mama or daddy. I was “AMAZING! ASTONISHING!” I was something them folks hadn’t ever seen before. When the wagon squeaked to a stop, Floyd set up a footbox like a little stage and started his patter.

“Laaadies and geeentermen!” he hollered, sort of stretching it out like he was growling it. “Laaadies and geeeentermen! My name is Perfesser Floyd Wendellson, collector of the rare and the beautiful, and the world’s foremost authority on feechie life and habits!”

My box had a knothole in the side panel, and when I hunkered down, I could see the villagers gathering around the wagon. Things get quiet in the villages, so the commotion of a stranger pulling up in a wagon and hollering about feechiefolks fetched a crowd right off. And once the villagers was in earshot, they wasn’t going anywhere. You never seen anybody could hold a crowd like Floyd. He cut a fine figure in his shiny coat and squared-off hat—so tall and straight. His black mustaches wagged when he talked, and even folks who didn’t believe a word he said couldn’t wait to see what he was going to say next.

I knowed Floyd’s patter by heart. He rearranged the pieces pretty freely, stretching it out if folks was slow to gather, or leaving parts out if folks seemed restless, but the main points of the speechifying was the same every time, and they was pretty simple:

First, Floyd was the bravest adventurer ever to pole a flatboat and the only civilized man ever to come out of the Feechiefen Swamp alive.

Second, for one night and one night only, Floyd was giving a lecture in the village hall—a lively report of his travels with a full account of the habits and customs of the feechiefolks, the wild and mysterious native inhabitants of the Feechiefen.

Third, Floyd’s lecture would include the displayment of a he-feechie he had brought back from the swamp, the only genuine feechie to be found in the civilized world.

Fourth, everybody in the village was invited to come listen to Floyd’s lecture for the small price of one copper coin per person.

Sometimes Floyd started in on all the other so-called feechie authorities—how they’d just find a ugly boy, diaper him in muskrat pelts, slobber him with mud, and call him a feechie. How them other feechie experts was all just charlatans and frauds and only Floyd had the real thing. It took some gumption to tell such a barefaced lie as that. There aint a lot to admire about Floyd, but the man does have gumption. Sitting in that box and listening to Floyd run on about what a fine specimen of feechiehood I was, can you blame me for believing it myself?

“Wild Man of the Feechiefen Swamp” is a heap better than “ugly boy whose mama didn’t want him.” When it comes to Floyd’s tales, you got to pick and choose what to believe anyway; I figured I might as well believe the tales I liked the best.

And I never believed them feechie tales more than in the five minutes just before the box flung open. By the time Floyd got to my cue, I was about to bust I felt so feechiefied. “He’s really quite harmless”—that was my cue. When
Floyd worked them words into his patter, I commenced to yowling like a panther and growling like a bear and howling like a wolf, thumping around in my box and putting up such a ruckus as you never heard in your life. I kept it up until Floyd whapped on my box a few times with his cane.

It didn’t take much of that business to get the crowd whipped up pretty good. I know Floyd and me was supposed to be the show, but the crowd made a pretty good show their own selves, and I liked nothing better than watching it through my knothole.

A few younguns run off hollering; the rest found a grownup to hide behind. They looked like a nation of popeyed squirrels, peeping out from a forest of trouser legs and ladies’ skirts. Some of the womenfolks raised up their eyebrows and clutched handkerchiefs to their chins, and some of them glowered at Floyd for bringing such a dangerous critter into the midst of their peaceful village. The menfolks mostly kept a brave face, putting on smirks as if to show they didn’t believe Floyd had a feechie in that box. But behind most of the smirks you could see a little doubt.

Floyd made like he was as surprised by the commotion as anybody—like this wasn’t the same routine we done five or six times a week as far back as I could remember. He stammered and acted flusterated, like he was throwed off and was struggling to get his wagon back on the path. Really he was just giving the smart alecks in the crowd a chance to pitch in. There was always at least two or three of them fellers around.

“What’s the matter, stranger? Cat got your tongue?”

“I used to believe in feechies too, Perfesser. When I was a baby!”

“How about a unicorn, Perfesser? If you got a unicorn, I’d gladly pay a copper to see it.”

“Maybe you should take your feechie show to the next village. This village aint got enough idiots to make a suitable audience.”

The hecklers figured they was being original and clever. They figured they had the upper hold on Floyd because they was taking him off his script. They never understood that they was the script. No smart aleck ever said anything Floyd hadn’t already heard a hundred times before. And he might have played like he was flummoxed, but Floyd always had both hands on the reins.

He picked out whichever heckler looked to have the most gumption and the least back-down, and he give him a look of astonishment, like he couldn’t believe somebody would doubt his word. Then he raised a trembling finger to point at him.

“You, sir,” he said, and he sort of nickered it like a horse—“Youhoo-hoo-hoo, sir”—like his feelings was so hurt he couldn’t talk right. “Do you suggest that I am a fraud and a liar?”

The smart aleck jutted out his chin, stood up a little straighter, and said, “You said it yourself, stranger, not me.” It played out that way every time. You’d have thought every smart aleck in every village in Corenwald had studied Floyd’s script. Floyd had him where he wanted him.

“Am I to understand, sir, that you don’t believe there is a living, breathing he-feechie in this box?”

“Sounds like you understand about right.”

By now the other villagers was egging on the smart aleck, and he was puffed up like a rooster. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for a feller who was about to get so completely and utterly used up.

Floyd could put this quiver in his voice like he was working hard to control his feelings. “Then perhaps, sir, you would like to step up here and see for yourself.”

Well, what’s a feller going to do? Even if he was starting to feel balky and jubous about the whole thing, he couldn’t back down in front of the other villagers. So he made his way to the front, and Floyd give him a smart-alecky bow and swoop and made room for him on the footbox.

Floyd stood there with his hand on the lid of the box for a good long while to give everybody some time to think about what might happen next, and the quiet and the waiting felt just like the minute before a storm cuts loose.
I hunkered there waiting for the first crack of daylight at the opening of the box lid, and when it come, it was a whole new rumpus. I sprung out like some kind of wildcat and scrabbled up onto the smart aleck’s head. He was so discombobulated, he didn’t know what to do, and I perched there while he staggered around and waved his arms, and I beat my chest and hollered, “Ooooliee, ooooliee, ooooliee!”

Meanwhile, the crowd was hollering and scattering and giving me plenty of room to cut whatever capers I might want to cut. Younguns was crying and dogs was barking and the grownups was doing a poor job of hiding their alarm. I yodeled some more and did a couple of back-over flips and scrabbled up a tree, and there I crouched where the crowd could get a good look at me. And when I was in the tree, and the villagers was on the ground, and there was a safe-ish distance between us, I could see the fear and panic melt into something more like fascination. And didn’t I feel interesting!

About that time, Floyd marched over to the tree and started his palaver again, and it was like a spell was broken. “I’m terribly sorry, ladies and gentermen. He’s usually quite docile, I assure you. If you’ll give him some room…” Then he talked to me, real gentle, the way a good horseman talks to his horse. “Grado, Grado…” Grado was my stage name.

My real name is Grady. If I had a last name, Floyd never told me what it was. “Grado,” he said, “it’s all right. Nobody is going to hurt you. Come to Perfesser. Come back to your box.” I jumped down, and everybody sort of gasped and drew back, but Floyd grabbed hold of my arm and walked me back to my box and shut me in it.

That’s how we fetched folks for Floyd’s lectures. And we fetched them too. Some nights it seemed like every man, woman, and child in a village paid their copper to hear Floyd talk some more and to get another look at me. Floyd’s lectures was entertaining enough—one lie after another about how he poled a flatboat across the Feechiefen and how the feechiefolks had welcomed him into their tribe and initiated him into their mysteries.

Some of that foolishness Floyd got from old nursery stories, but most of it he just made up. He’d change things from night to night, just to keep it interesting I reckon. Some nights he said feechies had magical disappearing powers, and some nights he said feechies was just so skilled at camouflage that they only appeared to disappear. Some nights he said feechies was peaceable, and some nights he said they was bloodthirsty savages. Some nights he said they was human, and some nights he said they was swamp monsters, and some nights he said they was elves of some kind. Just according to his mood on a particular night.

Then he brung me out. “Grado here is a full-grown feechie,” he said. He said that when I was four years old, and he said it when I was twelve years old. “As you can see, feechies are much smaller than we are. And considerably uglier.”
Wasn’t we a pair? Floyd made his living by telling lies, and I made mine by being ugly. It wasn’t a bad living either.

But it didn’t last forever. Even in the smallest villages, even far away from the cities, the time come when nobody believed in feechies anymore, and we had to figure out other ways to make a living. Here’s what I want to know: what is this country coming to if everybody’s got too civilized and skeptical to pay a copper to see a real-live feechie boy?

Reading Group Guide

1.

Do we have any legends in our own world like the feechiefolk? How would you feel if you found out they were real?

2.

If you lived in Grady’s world, would you rather be a drover, a villager, a show person, or a feechie? Why?

3.

Grady spends his whole life thinking no one loves him, but really his true family has loved him and prayed for him every day of his life. How is this like God’s love for us?

4.

How has growing up with only Floyd for family affected Grady’s view of the world? Think about his experience in the village classroom—how is he different from the village children? How is he similar?

5.

How did you feel about Grady’s decision not to stay with Short Fronie? What would you have done in his position?

6.

How does Grady feel about being a charlatan? What does this say about him? How do you feel about him being a charlatan?

7.

At the end of chapter 5, Grady says, “So here’s what I’d like to know: if a feller feels honest, if he wants to be honest, but he don’t get much chance to talk honest or act honest, is he a honest feller or not?” How would you answer his question? Do you think Grady is an honest person?

8.

Grady spends the whole book referring to himself as ugly. When he finds out where he really comes from, how does his perspective of his appearance change?  Why? What qualities do you share with your family?

9.

In Chapter 13, Grady says, “I’ve got to love somebody. And I got nobody but Floyd.” What do you think of Floyd? What, if anything, do you admire about him? Do you think he ever loved Grady at all?

10.

How has Barbary’s life been similar to Grady’s? What does he learn from her?

11.

Through most of his story, Grady longs for things he doesn’t have and cannot have. There is a lot of hurt in longing like that. What (if any) good comes out of that kind of longing?

12.

The Charlatan’s Boy is a book about belonging—or not belonging. Where do you belong? How would your view of yourself be different if you felt you didn’t belong anywhere?

Customer Reviews

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Charlatan's Boy 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
Krystine_Kercher More than 1 year ago
I was first introduced to Jonathan Wilder's writing by a list of good Y.A. Christian fantasy and science fiction that Donita K. Paul sent me for my son, Robbie. Of course, I could just let Robbie read these books himself. I had to read them too! :D I got a real kick out of the series that began with The Bark of the Bog Owl. Feechifolk are something else! I've been hoping for a while to get my hands on another book by Jonathan Wilder. Recently, I finally got that chance! The Charlatan's Boy is about a boy named Grady, who has grown up considering himself a Feechie. Grady knows he's ugly; he's got one long eyebrow (instead of two), eyes set too close together, a narrow face, funny ears and a receding chin. And he's as nimble as a monkey. A charlatan, or con man, named Floyd raised Grady. Grady knows that Floyd isn't his father, but how the con man actually acquired Grady is a bit of a mystery, because Floyd tells a different story about how he got Grady every time. Floyd makes Grady perform as a "Wild He-Feechie" in Floyd's traveling Feechie Show. At first, the crowds they draw--and the money they make--is pretty good, but after a while, the villagers stop believing altogether that feechies are real, and stop paying to see the show. So Floyd turns his con-game in other directions; cheating another showman out of his phrenology equipment so Floyd and Grady can measure people's heads to tell what's in their hearts; then putting on Ugliest Boy contests, which Grady wins until they run up against the ugliest boy they've ever seen in a mining town, and Floyd loses all his money. After that they concoct fake medicinal remedies, but neither Floyd or Grady really has their heart in selling them, and they're not really happy with the results. Meanwhile, Floyd grows sulkier and grumpier, and is really mean to Grady, and Grady starts looking for ways to escape. But he's scared, because the only place he's ever really belonged is with Floyd. At last, Floyd decides that what they really need is a good Feechie scare to make the good folk of Corenwald believe in feechies again, so they can go back to being a feechie show. This leads to lots of unintended adventures! The Charlatan's Boy is an excellent read for Y.A., but adults will find that there's a lot about this book to recommend it to older folks too. I wouldn't recommend it for children younger than twelve or thirteen; younger children may have trouble seeing past how truly awful Floyd is to the spiritual truths embodies in Grady's life-journey, since Grady spends his time apprenticed to Floyd learning how to decieve people and part them from their hard-earned money. The ending was perfectly priceless! I was deeply moved by the wonderful spiritual implications.
BeckyLou More than 1 year ago
The Story. Grady is an orphan, under the care of a flimflam man named Floyd. Together they travel throughout the island of Corenwald primarily selling as truth a pack of lies. The greatest of these is that Floyd is a feechie expert and Grady is a full grown feechie he's captured. Grady is attached to Floyd simply because he's all the boy has. Floyd, on the other hand, treats Grady mostly like a hired hand, refusing to tell him who he is or where he came from. When interest in the feechie act dries up, the charlatan and his boy try a variety of other routines, none particularly successful. One day Floyd gets an idea how to revive interest in feechies. Grady happily complies, and their scheme works--up to a point. Instead of giving Grady what he thought he wanted, the outcome of their plot shakes up his world for good. Strengths. The Charlatan's Boy is inventive. Words like "civilizer," "angrified," and "robustious," and accompanying unique grammar constructions join with an imaginative world and people to make this story feel like something you've never read before. The novel has a bit of the flavor of Paul Bunyan stories, whoppers told as real events, but there's a hint of Prydain, too, or maybe Narnia. At any rate, the book is a wonderful blend, one Sally Apokedak has called Frontier Fantasy. It's the perfect term, I think. The characters are every bit as strong as the inventiveness. Grady is lovable, sadly so because he wants so much to fit somewhere in the world he knows, but Floyd holds him at arms distance, at best. More than anything, I wanted to keep reading because I wanted to know what would happen to Grady next and in particular if he would ever find what he needed. The story is really an exploration of the human heart, so there is a lot of universal truth between the covers--about truth and lies, belonging and love. Without a doubt, Dr. Rogers' look at these timeless issues is from a Christian perspective, so it lends itself to Christian interpretation, whether intentional or not. Weakness. No, I don't think it's a perfect book, but it's well on the way. Primarily I thought a few chapters wandered about a bit. Some reviewers termed the story "episodic" and it was to an extent in the early part. Once Floyd and Grady settled on a scheme to revive their feechie act, the plot coalesced nicely and the pace picked up. Recommendation. A must read for fantasy lovers. A must read for those looking for a read-aloud book. A must read for those who want to discover quality literature. A must read for those who want a fun yet touching story about an engaging character.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
The Charlatan's Boy by Jonathan Rogers caught my interest right from the cover and continued to entrance me until I finally finished it! I loved it so much I finished the novel in a day! The Charlatan's Boy is about an orphan named Grady, who has been traveling around with a charlatan named Floyd who supports them by coming up with quick scams or sideshows, since as far back as he can remember. The problem is that Grady can't remember even the slightest detail of his childhood and doesn't know who he is or where he came from. The only answers to his past come from Floyd, who withholds most of what he knows from Grady. These two struggle to make a living, made harder by the memory of better times when people from all the towns would flock to see Grady perform as "The Wild Man of Feechiefen Swamp." But to their dismay, no one believes in " feechies" anymore. But not if Grady and Floyd can help it. Together, these two extraordinarily colorful characters set out on the adventure of a lifetime and try to devise a plot to create another Great Feechie Scare which Floyd is convinced will make them rich again. Grady is more than enthusiastic about playing his part as a "feechie" once again, but he also can't stop wondering after living a life full of unknowns, if he will ever know who he really is. I received this book compliments of Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy for my honest review and have to say I have uncovered a 5 out of 5 stars within it's pages.
Calvin_OConnor More than 1 year ago
Summary: A charlatan's boy, literally a boy employed by a charlatan, tells the story of his adventures in the island nation of Corenwald as he roams from village to village with his lying and fraudulent employer. The boy, Grady, says at the beginning of his story, "I don't care who you are-when it comes to knowing where you come from, you got to take somebody else's word for it. That's where things has always got ticklish for me. I only know one man who might be able to tell me where I come from, and that man is a liar and a fraud." We see the ups and downs of Grady's life as Floyd (the charlatan) uses Grady to scam, cheat, and swindle drovers (cattle drivers) and villagers out of their wages. And Grady's story revolves around Floyd's main scheme: "THE WILD MAN OF THE FEECHIEFEN SWAMP!" I enjoyed Jonathan Rogers' The Charlatan's Boy quite a lot, which surprised me. The story started slow for me. And the writing was not what I usually enjoy, somewhat cute. This "cute" writing is due mainly to the voice of the narrator (Grady) who is a young lad, uneducated in a traditional sense, and very drawly, droolingly so. (Drawly and droolingly, hmm). However, the author has a good sense of humor and the story picked up soon enough for me to be drawn in and, I did not see this coming at all, but at the end of the story (the last three pages of the book) Grady made me cry. Rather, Jonathan Rogers made me cry. Well, okay, they both made me cry. So why did I, a grown man, cry? Because, truth it is, I am a natural born crier. I cry when milk spills. But mainly because it was not until the last few pages that I understood what Jonathan Rogers had done. He has made this story all about the true story. The bigger story. Grady's life, his story, is a metaphor. And it made me cry. But I am not going to give it all away here. If you want to cry too then you're going to have to read the book. I received this book free from the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
TheLostEntwife on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I found it to be charming, loveable, delightful, inspiring, giggle-worthy, heart-breaking, tender, sweet, and perfect. I loved everything from the face plate introducing each chapter, to the sweet boy who thought he really was the Ugliest Boy in the World.As I read this book for the INSPY awards, I was a bit confused as to its inspirational merit, I found it to be extraordinarily well-written, but I wouldn¿t necessarily call it a ¿Christian¿ book. More of a fairy-tale ¿ think The Ugly Duckling.Every adventure, every hoax had me groaning and laughing, and all I can really say, because this review is turning into a rave over how wonderful the book is, is that you should read it. You really should. But set aside time to curl up on a sofa and really devote yourself to the story, because it deserves that.
lothiriel2003 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I greatly enjoyed the characters and the atmosphere of the book. The narrator, Grady, has grown up with a traveling showman who has fed him and cared for him, but showed him little love. He longs to belong someplace and to someone and much of the book is about his quest to find his place in the world. His traveling adventures are lively and interesting, his observations of the people around him are insightful, yet understanding. He is an outsider looking into a culture he does not belong to, but he is never bitter or judgmental. He's altogether a delightful character. This book is a great bedtime story - for adults as well as adolescents!
jewelknits on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Have you ever read a book and thought to yourself, "This book deserves to be read out loud?". The Charlatan's Boy is definitely one of them. The dialect, the story, the action - this is just a great read out loud fun type of book.We have Grady, with one blue and one green eye - short, wiry, and ugly with his unibrow, who always believed he was a feechie boy, being raised by Floyd, a traveling huckster. When the towns and villages stop believing in feechiefolk, Floyd paints the wagon and takes on a new trick, then another, until he switches to the "ugliest boy" act. This works until they meet a boy who's even uglier, and Floyd switches to a different draw. As we travel with Grady and Floyd - through cities and villages, meeting up with other show folk now and then, all with their own scam, there are adventures galore, not all of them good. Grady begins to have more questions - he doesn't know where he came from or where and when he was born, and Floyd always gives him different stories. Life with Floyd is the only life he's ever known, but ... what if he really ISN'T a feechie boy? Can he possibly hope to live like other people in their towns and neighborhoods? Can he go to school like other kids someday? Will he ever find people who accept him for what he is? Grady is such a good soul trapped into a scoundrel's life that you can't help but hope for the best for him.This is a totally fun read. I loved it and blasted through it. The writer draws you right into the world of hucksters and traveling con men in such a great fashion. The dialect is spot on, and as the reader feels more and more sympathy for Grady, we just hope to see him triumph in the end. With chapter titles such as:In which we meetthe Blossom of Bonifay,the Chalkboard Bully, and the world's most beautifuleighty-two-year-oldyou can imagine the imagery that goes into the actual story. Fun, fun, fun, and more fun. If you like a great clean story, with a little bit of fantasy and a lot of huckstering, this is the one for you.QUOTESWhen it comes to Floyd's tales, you got to pick and choose what to believe anyway; I figured I might as well believe the tales I liked the best.You go into a village, and folks is having them kinds of conversations every single day. Just once in my life I'd like to have a conversation like that - one that don't mean nothing, except, "We're friendly, ain't we, and don't we have a lot in common?" I don't reckon one person has ever asked me how I felt about the weather.I don't know why I expected better from Floyd. It's just that a feller's got to love somebody, and Floyd was all I had to choose from.Writing: 4.5 out of 5 starsPlot: 5 out of 5 starsCharacters: 5 out of 5 starsReading Immersion: 4.5 out 5 starsBOOK RATING: 4.75 out of 5 stars
jenniferbogart on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Grady is a lost boy. Cut off from his past and origins by a deceiving huckster, he has spent his life wondering about where he really came from, and if he¿ll ever find a place in the world. Traveling across Corenwald with his handler Floyd, his fondest memories are of his performances as ¿The Wild Man of the Feechiefen Swamp¿. The Feechies are a nearly mythical race of Corenwald, but when belief in them wanes Floyd and Grady¿s tactics change.The Charlatan¿s Boy is the first Jonathan Rogers novel that I¿ve read; it is apparently set in the same world as his Wilderking series, and I¿m sure there are tie-ins that previous readers will readily recognize. However, if you are a first-timer like myself, there is no problem at all starting with The Charlatan¿s Boy as a read-alone (it does seem there are follow-up titles planned for this book as well, though it satisfies as a self-contained story.)Written in the first person from Grady¿s point of view, the story is enthralling, and written in a southern-style dialect that lends a unique cadence to the writing style. This is a brisk read, and only took me an evening or so to read through. Intended for young adults, the quick-moving story and involving plot are a great fit for this age group.Published by Random House¿s Christian publishing branch (Waterbrook), there are definitely parallels and allegorical connections that can be drawn between Grady¿s experiences as a lost, orphaned boy and life as a lost individual in a fallen world where true love seems so hard to find. These are subtle however, and really need to be dug out. Because of this subtlety this book can easily be read by believers and non-believers alike, many younger readers will totally miss out on these ties without them being explicitly pointed out to them.Parents looking for an explicitly Christian young adult title likely won¿t find that The Charlatan¿s Boy fits the bill, but it is a clean, wholesome, and adventure-filled read that is filled with adventurous hi-jinks and heartwarming discovery. That in itself marks The Charlatan¿s Boy as a title to check out for tween and teen readers in a marketplace saturated with questionable content for youth.Reviewed at quiverfullfamily.com
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not put it down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Supriseing too maybe hasa award!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Waterbrook pubshling worth while books Should have five stars
THESELF-TAUGHTCOOK More than 1 year ago
Grady has no memory of his origins. Not for lack of trying, though; he has spent many hours trying to remember a family or home before Floyd, a huckster who makes his living perpetrating hoaxes on villages. Each time he asks Floyd where he came from, he receives a different story. One story is that he found him squawling under a palmetto bush; another story is that his real mama gave him away because he was too ugly to keep. Grady is inclined to believe that one, because he looks different from everyone else. He looks like a feechie, and Floyd makes a living by showing Grady as a "genuine, real live, he-feechie". As they make the rounds fleecing the villagers, Grady is on a journey to the knowledge of who he truly is. If I believed in reincarnation, and I don't, I would claim to have found the "genuine, real live, reincarnation of Mark Twain". Jonathan Rogers' writing style is so reminiscent of Twain that it is eerie. For everyone who ever felt sad because they realized they had read all of Twain's works, and now there is nothing to look forward to, here is the answer. And when I read his blog and realized that he also likes and is influenced by Flannery O'Connor, I was even happier. Anyone who likes Twain and O'Connor is okay by me. This novel was categorized as YA, but this middle-aged woman enjoyed it just as much today as I would have at 13. Jonathan Rogers is a writer for all ages. Definitely 5 stars
Deal_Sharing_Aunt More than 1 year ago
Are you a He-Feechie? I enjoy good fantasy books, and that is what this is. I was given the opportunity to review this book for free, all opinions are my own. It is really a sad story at first about a "homeless" child that follows Professor Floyd and his amazing wagon of hoaxes and flimflams. However mean Floyd may be, and whatever Floyd may make Grady do, Grady still stays. He knows no other way of life. He likes to make Floyd happy and to make money. The biggest scam that Floyd ever had was to bring back the Feechie scare days. After Grady invents a noise making machine and Floyd convince people that the Feechies are back, they are back in business. So Grady goes back in his cage and starts to scare people again. Grady has been told so many different stories and lies that it is difficult for him to know what is real anymore. I enjoyed the plot and the end of the book made me smile. It was hard for me to put the book down because I wanted to know where they were going next and what their next scheme was going to be. It was a very easy read and it took me to a different place.
BillyB More than 1 year ago
Grady is an uneducated 12-year-old orphan who is caring, innocent, and generally a nice person, but he is not particularly good looking. With no family to love, he travels the countryside with a con artist named Floyd. Together they work as a team to swindle wages from the town folks by using a variety of schemes, such as Grady performing as “The Wild Man of the Feechiefen Swamp.”     Floyd knows all the tricks of their trades, and with Grady’s help, they plan to create a Great Feechie Scare, hoping they will get rich. After a life of being a liar and a fraud, young Grady starts to wonder what kind of a person he is becoming.     WaterBrook Press was nicely enough to send me this copy in exchange for my review. I am glad I picked out The Charlatan’s Boy for my first review with them. Author Jonathan Rogers has creatively twined a charming folk tale in the swamps and wild country of Corenwald. Grady is a sweet and fun character to get to know. My favorite part of the book is when Grady accidentally goes to school. Everything that comes out of Grady’s mouth is hilarious, but the poor boy never actually means to be funny, as he is just not use to a normal life. Overall, I enjoyed reading about Grady’s adventures. I recommend The Charlatan’s Boy to all readers, young and old.
ImGinny More than 1 year ago
In the book The Charlatan's Boy, Jonathan Rogers spins a delightful tale about one such man. He is selling his lecture on Feechie folk. He claims to have a real, live he-feechie. His he-feechie is named Grady and they travel around Corenwald taking in the kind people of the villages. Grady knows that Floyd is a fraud and liar and yet he still has questions about where he came from and how he happened to start traveling with Floyd. When the good people of Corenwald stop believing in feechie folk, Floyd and Grady need to find a different way to make money. They start traveling again proving that Grady is the ugliest boy in the world. Until they stop in Greasy Cave and Grady loses the challenge to another boy. Then they travel around as phrenologists. They feel people's heads and tell them all about themselves from the bumps and crevices. Until someone in a fit of rage smashes their wagon. They decide then it is time to make people believe in feechie folk again. And set out to do just that. The book is at times hysterically funny, incredibly sad and thought provoking. The plot grabs you at the first word and won't let you go until the last word on the final page, and then you're left wanting more. On a scale of 1-5 I give this book 10 turning pages. Yes, it's that good! If you're looking for an all-around good story, you can't go wrong with this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
S_Mama More than 1 year ago
I did a bad thing. Perhaps not a sin, but definitely a sin in the eyes of an English major. I judged a book by its cover. "The Charlatan's Boy" by Jonathan Rogers has a great circus-inspired cover. It's very reminiscent of the cover of "Water for Elephants." However, the inside of the book lacks much of what made "Water for Elephants" great. No romance, no real drama, and no face-paced plot. Now, this isn't to say that "The Charlatan's Boy" isn't a good book. It is a pretty good book (3 on a scale of 1-5). It's a slow moving book and took me quite a bit of time to read, just for lack of motivation! Let me share a synopsis. Grady is a side kick to Floyd. Grady is an orphan (at least he's never met his folks) and Floyd never seems to give him a straight answer about where he came from. They are hucksters, fooling people with their "Wild Man of Feechiefen Swamp" routine (Grady plays the role of the Feechie). People pay money to see this show, kind of like side shows in a circus. The bad part is that not a lot of people believe in Feechies anymore. There haven't been any sightings or scarings lately. What's a huckster and his boy to do? Stir up a new Feechie Scare. So really this is a tale about a man and a boy trying to make it in a world without doing an honest day's work. You do come to sympathize with the orphan Grady. He's a good kid, just has grown up in a dishonest trade. The ending really is a good one; I won't spoil it though. It's definitely not one that you expect! I have learned a valuable lesson. Don't judge a book by its cover, but do judge it by its ending (because it may just surprise you).
H-A-Titus More than 1 year ago
"I only know one man who might be able to tell me where I come from, and that man is a liar and a fraud." The only life orphan Grady has known is a dangerous one, tramping from village to village with a huckster named Floyd. Grady and Floyd specialize in a show called The Wild Man of the Feechiefen Swamp--because everyone wants to see a real live, in the flesh feechie, right? Not necessarily. When Floyd and Grady get down on their luck, they try out some other schemes, to no avail. Seems like the only thing they were ever good at was the feechie scam. So they dream up an idea guaranteed to make them money--they're going to create a big feechie scare that will have folks flocking to see their act! The Charlatan's Boy by Jonathon Rogers is a fun read in an unusual world. Corenwald is populated with coal miners, farmers, buckskin-clad hunters, hucksters, and of course the infamous feechie, a creature with a propensity for bad grammer, worse manners, fisticuffs, and gator-grabblin'. Readers were first introduced to Corenwald with Rogers' The Way of the Wilderking Trilogy: The Bark of the Bog Owl, The Secret of the Swamp King, andThe Way of the Wilderking, an allegory of King David. The Charlatan's Boy continues the fun as Rogers chronicles the escapades of Grady and Floyd. I can't count the number of times I giggled while I was reading this book. Floyd is a ridiculous old shyster, always scheming up the next big thing, and sometimes it made me want to give him a big kick. Grady was a sweet character, loyal, funny, and even honest, despite his trade. And all the supporting characters had quirks that added a lot to the general fun of the book. Reading this book was like curling up in a camping chair to listen to a storyteller by the campfire. This isn't an action-filled book, so the plot tends to take it's own sweet time getting to the conclusion, but that's not a bad thing at all. In fact, the book wouldn't be half so fun if it had focused just on the action and conclusion. In my mind, The Charlatan's Boy makes a perfect family read-aloud story. It gets five stars! ~*~I received this book for free from WaterBrook Press's Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review~*~
readehappy88 More than 1 year ago
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review". The story of Grady and his adventures through Cornewald with mentor, scoundrel, and friend Floyd, was an enchanting story, full of twists and turns, dealing with scams, shows, and urban legends of the local people. The story, however, is simple and surprisingly down to earth, and realistic. All of the characters in the book have a strong voice, and you can easily relate and immerse yourself in every single one. The fact that the point of view is from that of the main character helped me feel every emotion along with young Grady, and the back country accents only feed into the realism. This book is a great book if your are older and looking for a simple fun read, or if you are buying it for your kids. I truly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the sequel in the fall!!
gnimelf More than 1 year ago
I am usually draw to books with amazing covers. My theory is if it has a nice cover than it's a good book. That theory proved correct once again. The story revolved around a young boy named Grady and the man who took him under his wing, Floyd. Grady and Floyd travel the country side putting on "feechie shows" for the villagers charging them only a few coppers. When the feechie trade starts to dwindle they find new ways to swindle the villagers for more money. The story has a great ending and is perfect for families to read together! I received this book free from the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group book review bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
TheCommonCup More than 1 year ago
The Charlatan's Boy by Jonathan Rodgers is a fun story full of adventure and excitement. The story is narrated from the point of view of the main character, Grady. Set in a more southern, an almost wild west feeling, setting; Grady tells the story of how he and Floyd, his rough around the edges and not very good father figure, carry out the great "feechie scare". The Charlatan's Boy is a story about truth, lies, and finding out who you are through the midst of some interesting circumstances. It's a great book for the whole family to read and enjoy with some excellent moral lessons thrown in. I look forward to more offerings from this author.
freesamplequeen More than 1 year ago
What a charming and witty book! A young adult novel, The Charlatan's Boy is a book full of hilarity, imagination, inner exploration and discovery. Floyd and young Grady travel town to town selling hoaxes, false ideas and solutions trying to survive, their most favored being the idea of Feechiefolk.. When people stop believing in this hoax, Floyd and Grady are scrambling to survive. They stumble upon a plan to make it big while maintaining their desired line of work, peddling the tale of Feechies. Through encounters with other peddlers, villagers, and other countrymen, their tale spins and web that all become entangled in. A joy to read for all... Adult and young adult alike, Rogers offers entertainment in a way reminiscent of C.S. Lewis and Mark Twain. This book should become an instant classic! I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated for writing this review.
dianna26 More than 1 year ago
'The Charlatan's Boy" by Jonathan Rogers "Laaadies and geeentermen! Perfesser Floyd presents: the Wild Man of the Feechienfen Swamp!" Grady has always been with Floyd for as far as he can remember, going from village to village, performing different acts. He remembers when business was good and he would perform as "the Wild Man of th Feechienfen Swamp", but no one believes in feechies anymore. Floyd and Grady come up with a plan to create their own Great Feechie Scare, so people will pay once more again, to see their act. After so many schemes Grady doesn't even know who he is anymore, so many questions like, where did he come from? Where did Floyd get him? He wants to find himself, but has no one to tell him except Floyd, and he isn't honest, so where can he find answers? I completely LOVED this book! It was so different from other books I've read, very original story. Even the cover is different, just so colorful! This is definitely a must read book, I was hooked since the first chapter. It's hilarious but sad at the same time, made me feel happy and grateful for having a loving family. Defenitly recommend this book to all book lovers.
HannahJane More than 1 year ago
The Charlatans Boy by Jonathon Rogers The Story (The setting is the countryside of a fictional land. Of all the aspects of the story, this was perhaps the weakest, as not much information is given about the land.) Brought up by a smooth talking charlatan, and often displayed as a "he-feechie", Grady - the main character in the book - is confused about what "normal" life would be like. He has been ridiculed enough that he believes himself to be ugly, unwanted, and unlovable. The charlatan - Floyd - is willing to ridicule, lie, and scare anyone and everyone to make money. Including Grady. Mostly Grady. But despite Floyd's careless treatment of Grady, the boy is so alone otherwise that he chooses to stay with Floyd even when other options present themselves. Eventually, however, a crossroads appear. My Thoughts After seeing several positive reviews from fellow bloggers, I was excited to receive my review copy of The Charlatans Boy. The book was slightly different than what I had expected, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. Not only is it easy enough for children to comprehend and enjoy, but it also has enough unknowns and charm to keep older age groups curious and interested. The book reminds me somewhat of Samuel Clemons' (a.k.a Mark Twain) works. Realistic, full of childhood thoughts, ponderings, and fun, and just refreshingly different. The characters are somewhat simple at times, but they are portrayed remarkably well. My only complaint with the book would be that I thought it would be more direct about Christianity. It is definitely influenced by Christianity, but not as much as I had hoped it would be. 8 out of 10 stars. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
sjskogerboe More than 1 year ago
The story of Grady, the Charlatan's Boy. Good reading, and powerful character development. In the words of the author, it was a "sockdolager" of a tale. Actually, the book was dropped into the tub at one point as I was trying to read well washing. I should probably say something like, "I'm really embarrassed," but I'm not. I'm kinda' proud, actually. And I managed to dry it out, too, so here's your review. *** Grady is orphaned, apprentice of a huckster, and ugly as a bald cow. He lies to make money, and lives with the dirtiest cheat in all the land of Corenwald. (Metaphorically, and literally.) He knows nothing of himself, and is taught to know everything about others. Since he was 4 years old, he worked with Floyd, "Perfesser" of all things Feechie. Feechies live in swamps, eating equally strange sounding critters, and are known as the scourge of the Corenwalders. "Feechies are coming!" is a common cry in the streets; they are a cause of constant fear. Swindlers sell Feechie potions, put on Feechie performances, and build Feechie defense systems. But when nothing happens, the Feechie trade dies away. Grady and Floyd, reluctantly out of the Feechie business,try many other acts. But it's never the same. And, that being so, Floyd and Grady think up a plan: A plan that will revive the Feechie trade, and. make them a lot of money. Heroics? No. Uproarious fun? Plenty. *** Roger's book was pleasurable, to say the least, and the character development was marvelously thought provoking. If there were more books like this, (which, I am told, there soon will be,) I would waste no time waiting for the library: I would hurry to the book store.
angela09 More than 1 year ago
THE CHARLATAN'S BOY This has to have been one of the best books that I have read in the young adult genre for awhile. It has the feel of classic writing, while offering up a folksy vibe to the writing. Telling the story of Grady, a boy who is with a traveling con show, this book offers the reader, adventure and soul. It's one boys view on finding his own place in the world, and often he offers up his thoughts on the matter, which is very entertaining. As the tale turns we see unexpected changes, and lovely twist. I believe that both the young and the young at heart will enjoy this book!
ParisAlexandra More than 1 year ago
This was a very interesting book. I had heard great reviews about it, but I wasn't sure what to expect when I cracked it open. I have a read a lot of books, but never a book like this one. Rogers takes you inside Grady's head, his writing style is very unique. It made me think of Gilbert Morris' Barney Buck series (just the writing style - all country like). The words in this book were my favorite. I'd laugh and read them out loud. Words/sentences/chapter titles like "feechiefolks", "In which we commence terrorizing the populace", "goozle", "gumption", etc. And the plot was actually pretty good, the characters were quirky and felt almost real, and the feechies...Any book with feechies in it HAS to be good. I'd never read a book about shows on the road (besides circuses) and charlatans, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed reading about it. It was interesting seeing Grady's point of view in the story - you usually never see it from an entertainers point of view. I recommend this book to any who is interested in feechies, the world's most beautiful eighty-two-year-old woman, Pete's Dragon (and who DOESN'T love that movie?), alligators, or cowboys. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.