When Zachary Beaver Came to Town (Hardcover)

By Kimberly Willis Holt

Henry Holt & Company, 9780805061161, 227pp.

Publication Date: October 15, 1999



"The red words painted on the trailer caused quite a buzz around town and before an hour was up, half of Antler was standing in line with two dollars clutched in hand to see the fattest boy in the world."

"Toby Wilson is having the toughest summer of his life. It's the summer his mother leaves for good; the summer his best friend's brother returns from Vietnam in a coffin. And the summer that Zachary Beaver, the fattest boy in the world, arrives in their sleepy Texas town. While it's a summer filled with heartache of every kind, it's also a summer of new friendships gained and old friendships renewed. And it's Zachary Beaver who turns the town of Antler upside down and leaves everyone, especially Toby, changed forever."

With understated elegance, Kimberly Willis Holt tells a compelling coming-of-age story about a thirteen-year-old boy struggling to find himself in an imperfect world. At turns passionate and humorous, this extraordinary novel deals sensitively and candidly with obesity, war, and the true power of friendship.

"When Zachary Beaver Came to Town" is the winner of the 1999 National Book Award for Young People's Literature. This title has Common Core connections.

About the Author

Kimberly Willis Holt is the author of the many award-winning novels for young adults and children, including The Water Seeker, My Louisiana Sky, and Keeper of the Night. She is also the author of the bestselling Piper Reed series of chapter books and picture books including Waiting for Gregory and Skinny Brown Dog. When Zachary Beaver Came to Town was her third book and won a National Book Award for Young People's Literature. She lives in West Texas with her family. Holt was born in Pensacola, Florida, and lived all over the U.S. and the world--from Paris to Norfolk to Guam to New Orleans. She long dreamed of being a writer, but first worked as a radio news director, marketed a water park, and was an interior decorator, among other jobs. She resides in West Texas with her family.

Praise For When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

“This book packs more emotional power than 90% of the so-called grown-up novels taking up precious space on bookshelves around the country. Kimberly Willis Holt’s When Zachary Beaver Came to Town will resonate with readers.”—USA Today
“Holt may not take her readers on wild flights of fantasy, but her quiet novel offers a slice of life that’s hard to resist.”—New York Times Book Review
“As in her first novel, My Louisiana Sky, Holt humanizes the outsider without sentimentality. . . . Holt reveals the freak in all of us, and the power of redemption.”—Booklist, Starred Review
“In her own down-to-earth, people, smart way, Holt offers a gift. . . . It is a lovely—at times even giddy—date with real life.”—The Horn Book, Starred Review
“Well-developed characters, all fantastic and flawed in their own ways, add plenty of spice.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Holt reinvents the coming-of-age story, breathing life into a quirky cast of characters. . . . The events of the story combined may seem no larger than a pebble underfoot, yet the characters tug at readers, gaining steadily their attention and affection.”—Kirkus Reviews “Holt deftly fleshes out her characters and expands their worldview beyond the borders of their small town.”—Library Journal
“This tale of Toby and Cal’s growing friendship with Zachary is full of humor as well as sadness as Toby learns to deal with loss. It’s beautifully and sensitively related by Holt, who displays a finely tuned sense of place and time. A rich and satisfying read.”—KLIATT An ALA Notable Children’s Book
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
National Book Award Winner
Books for the Teen Age, New York Public Library
Booklist Editors’ Choice
Horn Book Magazine Fanfare List
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
An American Bookseller “Pick of the List”
Arizona Young Reader Selection Nominee
Connecticut’s Nutmeg Award Nominee
Georgia Children’s Book Award Nominee
Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award Finalist
Indiana Young Hoosier Award
Iowa Teen Book Award Nominee
Kansas Heartland Award for Excellence in YA Literature Finalist
Maine Student Book Award Nominee
Maryland’s Black-eyed Susan Award Nominee
Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award Finalist
Michigan Reader’s Choice Award Winner
Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Awards Master List
New Mexico Land of Enchantment Book Award YA Master List
Tennessee Volunteer State Award Master List
Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List
Vermont’s Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award Nominee