The Nine Lives of Travis Keating
Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children's Literature Nominee, 2009
On Resource Link's "Best of 2008" List
CLA Children's Book of the Year Award shortlist, 2009
After his mother's death, Travis Keating and his father move to Ratchet, Newfoundland, to start a new life. Some life. Travis soon discovers that only a few oddballs show any interest in him: Cole, a talker who soon makes himself scarce; Hector, a strange kid whose ears stick out; and Prinny, a girl as scraggly as her skinny ponytail. Nobody you can really call a friend. And then there's Hud, the toughest, nastiest bully in school, who hates "townies" and promises to make Travis's life an utter misery. But Travis doesn't care. He's got his "funeral face," a tight mask that gives away nothing and allows him to hide his feelings. Funeral face comes in handy, especially with parents and other adults who think they know what you're feeling every minute of the day.
But funeral face can also make him reckless, and Travis decides to visit the dangerous Gulley Cove, with its treacherous wharf and its tumbledown fish shacks, which some of the kids say are haunted. Instead of ghosts, Travis discovers a colony of feral cats, sickly and starving, and unused to kindness. Putting aside his own problems to care for them is about to bring Travis more satisfaction-and more danger-than he ever would have thought possible.
A stunning first children's novel, The Nine Lives of Travis Keating is a moving story about coping with grief. But more than that, it's about belonging, learning to be a friend, and finding bravery in the most unexpected of places.
Reviews: "The Nine Lives of Travis Keating, is a fast and engaging read. . . MacLean is to be congratulated on a marvelous achievement. Highly Recommended." -- CM Magazine
"Travis is an engaging, dimensional character whose intimate, descriptive narrative conveys the grieving process and loneliness; the struggle of coping with bullying; the importance of honesty, trust, and communication; and the healing power and mutual rewards of caring for others beings, animal and human. A few scenes involving cat death and birth may be potentially disturbing to younger readers. Travis' friendships with the diverse supporting characters underscore the theme of looking beyond appearances, and readers will recognize many of their own feelings and conflicts in Travis' story." -- Booklist
"Jill MacLean gently beckons readers into this small Newfoundland village as she delicately captures a true sense of the place and its people. She beautifully depicts the wide range of emotions that often threaten to overcome Travis." -- Atlantic Books Today
Jill MacLean is the author of a collection of poetry, The Brevity of Red, which was shortlisted for the Atlantic Poetry Prize and the Acorn-Plantos Award. She has also published a history of Prince Edward Island, Jean Pierre Roma: of the Company of the East of Isle St. Jean. Jill lives in New Bedford, Nova Scotia.
Jill has a blog for the book at jillmaclean.wordpress.com.