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*True Talents* by David Lubar- young readers fantasy book review
Also by David Lubar:

The Big Stink (Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie)
True Talents
by David Lubar
Ages 9-12 320 pages Starscape March 2007 Hardcover    

With True Talents , his sequel to Hidden Talents, David Lubar has written a gem. By focusing on Eddie Thalmeyer’s (a.k.a. Trash’s) abduction by the villainous Major Bowdler, who wants to use Trash’s psychic powers for his own nefarious ends, Lubar has succeeded in penning a follow-up that might be even better than its predecessor. Hidden Talents has earned its share of awards and has appeared on many reading lists. For instance, it was an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and a Teen Newsweek Summer Reading Recommendation as a Hot Summer Page-Turner. True Talents will add to David Lubar’s growing reputation as an excellent writer for young adults. Though I recommend also reading Hidden Talents, and preferably first, True Talents can easily stand alone and be enjoyed without having read the first book.

Back are the rest of the old gang from Edgeview High School: Martin, Cheater, Flinch, Torchie, and Lucky. Although they’ve gone their separate ways, they keep in touch but have been led to believe (as have Eddie’s own parents) that Trash died in a fiery car crash after a joy-riding experience gone terribly bad.. They all have their own hidden talents of different psychic abilities. In coming to terms with them, and joining to help rescue Trash, they discover their true talents and learn that they would be pretty special even if they didn’t have any unique powers.

The book opens up with Trash having been abducted and left in a drug-induced haze by the sinister Major Bowdler, who is trying to maintain control of Trash - as well as test the range of his powers and how to neutralize them, if necessary, so said powers can’t be turned against his captors. Among other tests, Bowdler has Trash try to move and levitate marbles under various conditions. He desires to turn Trash into a military weapon, totally under Bowdler’s control. Remembering back to how his hidden talents were discovered by Bowdler and how he got caught, Trash thinks, “I know the exact moment when my life took a sharp left turn. The memory still has the sting of a razor cut.”

Before his friend Martin helped him with controlling his telekinetic talents, Eddie’s powers earned him his nickname in Hidden Talents for the way he sometimes lashed out in anger, trashing things without even knowing the outcome. What led up to his capture had to do with the total trashing of the art room at his school, except for his project, when he got mad at another student for tearing up pictures he’d drawn. Eddie was as astonished as anyone at the destruction in the room, but the school principal and his parents blamed him for the destruction of art supplies; his dad was making him pay for the damage with his own money over time.

Trash desperately wanted new brushes and paints like the ones his new art teacher has let him use. Though he’d asked his parents for the supplies, they hadn’t bought him any, and Eddie decided to use his hidden talents to move a stack of money he saw at a bank into his possession by telekinesis. He justifies it by reasoning that
It wasn’t really stealing. I’d just never withdraw that amount. I’d let it stay in my account forever. So--me and the bank--we’d be even.
He was spotted by the bank’s security cameras when his sense of morality made him realize that even if what he’d done was a “perfect crime,” someone would end up paying for the bank’s loss eventually, perhaps even lose a job when accounts didn’t balance out correctly. Bowdler saw Trash use his powers to return the money and sent some of his henchmen out to get him. Afraid for his life and not knowing why he’s being pursued, before he succumbs to a tranquilizing dart he snaps all of the ribs of one of the men with his hidden talents.

Each of Trash’s friends alternate chapters of their lives with Trash’s main plotline, and each finds himself being inexorably drawn toward Philadelphia, where Bowdler is experimenting on him. The arcs of their lives and how they all meet up in Philly is interesting in itself, but suffice it to say that David Lubar has scored another success with True Talents , a book filled with humor, pathos, suspense, excitement, characters you can’t help but like, and, above all, great writing.

Will Trash’s friends succeed in rescuing him? Will the mysterious metal box known as a disrupter end up being the cause of all of the friends’ capture? Will the true talents of the group, such as Flinch’s talent for comedy, be ultimately more important than their hidden ones? These questions and many more are answered in True Talents , a book that I highly recommend. How can someone not like a book that pays an homage to J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit, by titling a chapter “There and Back Again,” the same title Bilbo Baggins uses for his adventures?

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  Douglas R. Cobb/2007 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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