Books·Canadian

The Fabulous Zed Watson!

A middle-grade book by Basil Sylvester & Kevin Sylvester.

Basil Sylvester & Kevin Sylvester

The literary scavenger hunt of a lifetime, starring an endlessly endearing non-binary tween.

Zed Watson loves a few things: their name (which they chose themself!), their big rambunctious family, and — oh yeah  monsters. When Zed discovered the mystery surrounding an unpublished novel called The Monster's Castle, they were completely hooked. Now Zed is a member of a small but dedicated legion devoted to finding the long-buried text.

When a breakthrough discovery leads Zed to the route that they are sure will take them to the treasure, they know it's time for a road trip. And with the help of their shy, flora-loving neighbour, Gabe, and his sister, Sam, a geologist who is driving back to college in Arizona, Zed and company are soon off on a wild adventure following cryptic clues.

But it's not all fun and games. Gabe doesn't like Zed's snacks, Sam is a bossy driver with total command of the ancient Impreza's stereo, and Zed is often misgendered. It's a good thing they also encounter kind strangers, potato-themed dance-offs and lots and lots of ice cream along the way. If Zed and Gabe can combine their strengths, survive Sam's wrath and best the greedy historian who's also hot on the book's trail, they just might find the greatest treasure of all.

Co-authored by child-parent duo Basil Sylvester and Kevin Sylvester, this is a vibrant and enormous-hearted story about friendship, identity and belonging. It features illustrations by celebrated author and illustrator Kevin Sylvester, and an Own Voices perspective based on Basil's experience. (From HarperCollins)

From the book

I got home and hopped off my bike. The tips of my fingers were still tingling, and I was breathing hard, and not just from biking so fast. 

I couldn't wait to tell everyone my discovery. I tossed my bike onto the porch and almost tore the screen door off its hinges. 

"GUYS!" I yelled, but no one could hear me.

Let me explain.

I am loud.

But my "GUYS" was instantly swallowed up by the even louder cacophony of dinner prep, Chez Watson.

My family is big. Lots of siblings, lots of noise. 

But as dinner approaches, the Watson family circle grows, and extends like The Blob.

It's because of my parents. They love to have people over, yes. But my mom and dad also believe that you don't turn away anyone in need. So we always have this crowd. 

Kids, neighbours, neighbours' dogs…. You never knew who, or what, would show up for dinner on a given night.

On this given night it sounded like the circus was in town. 

When I was a kid, I thought my family was just that big. When I turned ten, I found out that the guy I'd been calling "Uncle" Amir was in fact, not my uncle, just a longtime family friend. 

It can be the most surreal experience. If you'd asked me yesterday, I probably would have said, "I wouldn't have it any other way." But today, it was hindering my mission.

In the dining room, to the right from the doorway, someone had set up a ping-pong table and a bunch of people I didn't recognize were shrieking and swinging their paddles wildly. 

On the stairs, my sister June had set up a mattress toboggan run. The lineup was long.

So was the lineup for the bathroom.

Down the entrance hallway was the kitchen. I sniffed. Delicious smells were reaching my nose, but my quest was not the food.

Cooking usually meant at least one parent, and that was my best bet to announce my discovery.

I marched down the hallway, dodging ping pong balls, flying mattresses and for some reason, my brother Zach's bunny Mephistopheles, who was running free and skittering between everyone's legs. 

"This house is awesome," I said.

My dad was in the kitchen, as it turned out. He was kneading his famous handmade pizza dough, and chatting with "uncle" Amir, who sat at the kitchen counter chopping mushrooms. His wife Andie was grating cheese, and they were all laughing about something. 

Mom wasn't there. She was undoubtedly in her study working on serious lawyer things. She didn't like to be disturbed before dinner. Ha! How she avoided that in this house was a mystery to me.


From The Fabulous Zed Watson! by Basil Sylvester and Kevin Sylvester ©2021. Published by HarperCollins Canada.

 

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