Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

Kimberly Willis Holt

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)



National Book Awards Winner


National Book Award Winner

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.

Texas Bluebonnet Award, Georgia Children's Book Award (University of GA), NYPL Books for the Teen Age, Illinois Rebecca Caudill YR Choice Award, Booklist Editors' Choice, ALA Notable Children's Books, American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults, Indiana Young Hoosier Award, Georgia Children's Book Award (U of GA), American Library Association Notable Children's Books, Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, NYPLT Books for the Teen Age, Horn Book Magazine Fanfare List, School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, New Mexico Land of Enchantment, National Book Awards Winner, ALA Best Books for Young Adults, Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Choice Award, Books for the Teen Age, New York Public Library, School Library Best Books of the Year


When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

Chapter One
Nothing ever happens in Antler, Texas. Nothing much at all. Until this afternoon, when an old blue Thunderbird pulls a trailer decorated with Christmas lights into the Dairy Maid...


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

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Kimberly Willis Holt

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.

Kimberly Willis Holt

Shannon Holt

Louisiana Public Broadcasting Station Interview

From the Publisher

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

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