1999 "First Edition - 1999" stated; "National Book Award Winner" stated; Henry Holt and Company publishers, New York; hardbound in red and black boards with silver stamp lettering along spine; very good condition with unmarked pages; dust jacket very good with one small ding to "National Book Award Winner" sticker - see pic.
Nothing ever happens in Toby’s small Texas town. Nothing much until this summer that’s full of big changes.
One summer in the small, sleepy town of Granger, Texas, Toby Wilson's life changes. Toby (Jonathan Lipnicki) is a boy who lives with his parents, but his mother runs off to Nashville to try to become a singer. Later, he and his best friend Cal McKnight (Cody Linley) meet a fat sideshow freak named Zachary Beaver (Sasha Neulinger), who has no parents or friends. Zachary, "The Fattest Boy Ever," spends most of his time in a small, silver trailer; he is abandoned by his legal guardian, Paulie Rankin, so [Paulie] can look for new additions to their circus. Toby and Cal get to know him, and slowly become friends with him.
They cope with the loss of Cal's brother, Wayne, who was recruited for the War on Terror in Iraq and later dies, which makes Cal extremely upset. Toby had been sending letters to Wayne pretending to be Cal until Wayne is killed, and Toby finally tells him this which leads to a fight between the two. Meanwhile, Toby is in Zachary's trailer during the funeral and Cal shows up. He gives Toby all the money he ever borrowed and tells him his mom is never coming back, just like Wayne. Later, Toby gives a country girl he likes a necklace, which was his mother's, but she gives it back to him because she likes someone else and doesn't like Toby that way. Earlier, Toby got to dance with her after her boyfriend broke up with her. Cal and Toby become friends after Toby chases him down to a lake soon after. In the end, they help Zachary get baptized in Gossimer Lake with the alcoholic preacher/cook owner of a local cafe, Ferris, who once studied to be a priest; later Paulie returns with circus performers to retrieve him. Zachary leaves town with them, and Cal and Toby's friendship is reaffirmed.