JACKSON JONES CAN'T get away from roses. First his mother got him a plot at Rooter's, a community garden where Jackson planted a rosebush of thorns and no blooms. Now Mr. K., a fellow gardener, enlists Jackson's help to rustle up some rare old-time roses. The kind that grow in cemeteries! And no sooner do Jackson and his friend Reuben take the rose cutting home than Reuben's gloom-and-doom talk of curses seems real.
Gr 3-5-A well-written, fast-paced adventure for early chapter book readers. Things get a little thorny for Quattlebaum's green-thumb hero in this third installment. Jackson Jones, still tending his plot of land at the community garden, is now working for his neighbor, Mr. K. In fact, it is the old bossy man who brings on a new garden of trouble for Jackson and sidekick Reuben when they agree to become rose rustlers. Stealing a clipping of an old rose branch from a cemetery seems to bring on a number of unpleasant incidents, convincing the boys that they are cursed. Is the mysterious rose branch to blame for poison ivy, bee stings, and a broken leg? Can the spooky rose twig be returned? Engaging characters, a unique mystery, and the familiarity of returning cast members (although this book does stand on its own) make this an appealing selection. The book also includes an interesting note about antique roses.-Jennifer Cogan, Bucks County Free Library, Doylestown, PA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Delacorte Books for Young Readers
November 13, 2006
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Excerpt from Jackson Jones and the Curse of the Outlaw Rose by Mary Quattlebaum
Chapter One Light barely crept through the gray trees. The damp ground sucked at my shoes and a breeze slid past my neck. I slapped at a bug. "Shhh," whispered Reuben behind me. "What do you mean 'shhh'?" I whispered back. "Nobody can hear." "We're in a cemetery." Reuben's voice dipped lower. "We need to show respect." I turned. "I am showing--" Next thing--ow!--I hit the ground. "You okay?" Reuben whispered. "Quit whispering," I said very loud. "It's making me nervous." Reuben shot me a scared look. "Man, look what tripped you." I struggled to my feet. "Stop it, Reuben," I said. "I bumped into a gravestone, that's all." Beyond the old cemetery, the dark forest rustled. "Let's go, Jackson." Reuben's voice cracked. "Something's out there." "We need to get what we came for," I replied, edging past the moss-slick gravestone. Then I saw the name cut in that stone. Rose Cassoway. Behind the grave, a thorny rope of flowers twined round a broken fence. Roses. I should have known roses would do me in. A chill grabbed my whole neck. Roses have always brought me bad luck. But thanks to my mama, I am stuck with them--and all their little green cousins: African violets, philodendrons, pansies. Mama loves plants. Our home is stuffed with them. This might be fine in the country, where Mama grew up, but it is way too much green for a city apartment. I eat with a fern, sleep in a jungle, talk to a six-foot ficus. Whenever I complain, Mama smiles. She claims plants are good for you. Her words: "They clear the air, soothe the eyes, and decrease stress." Decrease stress. That's a laugh. This past year has been the most stressful of my life. Right to that very moment in the graveyard. It all started on my tenth birthday last April. I had been sure I was getting a basketball. But Mama gave me . . . dirt. A plot in Rooter's Community Garden on Evert Street. And there was no way I could give it back. Mama had been so happy to give me a "little piece of country." Talk about trouble. That garden constantly messed with me. And my puddle-of-thorns rosebush was the worst. My best bud, Reuben Casey, and I spent all summer trying to grow something (besides weeds). Then I spent all fall trying to save the garden--my plot and twenty-eight others. I rescued Rooter's from certain doom, from being bulldozed and turned into a building. Now it was April again. I needed a break from plants. Instead, they were still in my face. Literally. That's because Mama had gone back to college to study plants. And she had started her own business, Green Thumb. Two days a week she tended the green things in offices; the other days she worked a normal job downtown. Green Thumb now had twelve clients, and Mama's business was growing. Literally. Well, I just started my own business, too. I have only one client--but he feels like twelve 'cause he keeps me so busy. Mr. Kerring is my next-plot neighbor at Rooter's. He is the oldest and bossiest person I know. The man can remember back to when Rooter's was a World War II victory garden, more than sixty years ago. Mr. K. was the very reason I was standing that day in a cemetery. Shivering by a grave. Staring at roses. Crackle-crick. That noise again from the forest. Closer this time. Reuben's eyes widened. "Jackson," he whispered. "What do you think--" Chapter Two "Quit whispering." I grabbed the rose vine. "It's probably a squirrel." "Or a bear." I pulled some teeny scissors from my pocket. Reuben snorted. "You gonna trim the bear's toenails?" "For your information, these are houseplant pruning shears. I'm gonna take a cutting. Here, hold this end." Reube