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Nickerson, Sara.
New York : HarperCollins, 2002.
IL 5-8, RL 6.9
ISBN 0060297727
(3 booktalks)
Booktalk #1

Wouldn’t you want to know what really happened to your dad—a champion swimmer who mysteriously drowned? Could you sneak inside an abandoned mansion, on an isolated beach, in the dark of night to hunt for clues? Shouldn’t you tell someone about Ratt, Volume I, that’s not really a comic, the weird librarian, and the lonely boy who seem to know more than they will reveal? Margaret asks herself these questions and more, yet perseveres in the dangerous search for the truth in How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found by Sara Nickerson.

Marge Erickson Freeburn  (Colorado Blue Spruce Children's Award)

Booktalk #2

Most stories start at the beginning, but I really can’t say I know where that is. Is it in a falling-down mansion on a small island in the Pacific Northwest, or in a navy-blue pickup truck making its way to that mansion? Does it start on a sunny day this year, or a sunny day twenty years before? Is it with me or with a young boy, who a long, long time ago, believed he was turning into a rat? I guess the only thing I do know is where it started for me - in that navy blue pick-up truck heading toward a place I didn’t know existed. A place that had already changed my life.

My name is my Margaret Clairmont. I have always known that my family is a little weird. There is my Mother Lizzie, she sleeps when she isn’t at work, and my sister Sophie, who is always doing the Hardest Jigsaw Puzzle Ever Made. You get some kind of certificate if you ever finish. My father died three years ago. We don’t ever talk about my father, unless my Mother isn’t there. There was something very strange about my Father’s death. He was a champion swimmer, and he drowned. I have a lot of questions, but Lizzie, I mean my Mother will not talk about it. The only time that we ever go anywhere is on Saturday. Sophie calls it Family Fun Day, I call it Bare Minimum for Survival Day. About three o’clock every Saturday, we gather up our dirty clothes and go to the Laundromat. After we get the clothes into the dryer, we walk a block and a half to the grocery store. We always buy two loaves of bread, two boxes of cereals, milk, bananas, chips, peanut butter and jelly, 6 frozen pizzas two bags of tater tots and 6 microwave bean burritos. Then we walk back to the Laundromat and get our clothes and go home. That had been our life for years. Well one Sunday, after Lizzie, I mean my Mom got up from her morning and afternoon naps, she looked at us, and said, “Get your shoes! Get your shoes and jackets!

Soon, we were all in the navy blue pick-up and headed somewhere. We saw a sign for a ferry and soon we were on the ferry. In the back of the truck was a sign that said FOR SALE BY OWNER. We had no idea what we were doing or where we were going. We drove up to a huge old house. It was like a palace, but one that was under a dark spell. There was another ordinary house right next door that looked like it had been plucked from a regular housing development. But we drove into the driveway, and Sophie and I wanted to move in right away. Lizzie, er Mom, lit her cigarette, and said, “Take that sign and put it in the middle of the yard, and write our phone number on the bottom with this marker.” I honestly tried to get it in the ground but the ground was too hard. I wanted to explore a little, but Sophie got in trouble by going too close to the water. So after Sophie was stuck back in the truck, while Lizzie stomped around. She sent me to the back of the house to get a shovel. I just wanted a peek inside this strange house. The back door was opened just a crack and I stepped inside. It was packed floor to ceiling with things. Things you think about and things you don’t, things that make up the world. There were wooden pickle barrels, rusted gates, tools to fix a car, tools to fix a tooth, tools to build a house. There were bicycle horns, and balls of string, and at least a dozen different mannequin hands, all with chipped red nail polish. There were stubs of candles and old-fashioned ruffled dresses, and doll heads with missing hair, and baby bottles, cans of food without labels, garbage sacks full of toilet paper. I could have stayed on that porch for days. I took a step forward, tripped over a box of old encyclopedias, and rusty fishing poles and then looked down at an old wooden crate that I had crashed through. And that’s when I saw it, a package that was addressed to Elizabeth Clairmont, (MY MOTHER). Someone had sent this to my Mother. I had to see what was inside. I stuffed it in my jeans and under my sweatshirt. And I took it home. What was in it?

A Key, A champion’s swimming medal, and A graphic novel entitled Ratt Volume 1.

You will need to read How To Completely Disappear and Never Be Found to find out what it all means!!

Marilyn Bunker  (Colorado Blue Spruce Children's Award)

Booktalk #3

My name is Margaret. I am about to enter the weirdest adventure of my life. My father, a champion swimmer, drowned four years ago. My mother, sister and I have just visited a mysterious house by the sea where I found a package addressed to my mom that said “return to sender.” What’s in that package?

My name is Boyd. I saw that girl, Margaret, enter the strange mansion next door. Then, I found a new comic book at the library with that house and that girl in the story. Why do I keep getting comic books that keep telling the future?

How to Disappear Completely and Never be Found is a surprising mystery told through words and comics about friendship, fate and family secrets.  (Melissa Bowman,, Armstrong Middle School,  Lone Star Book Award nominee, 2003-2004)

SUBJECTS:     Family life -- Northwest, Pacific -- Fiction.
                        Cartoons and comics -- Fiction.
                        Recluses -- Fiction.
                        Libraries -- Fiction.
                        Northwest, Pacific -- Fiction.
                        Mystery and detective stories.


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