Cover image for Bo & Mzzz Mad
Bo & Mzzz Mad
Fleischman, Sid, 1920-2010.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Greenwillow Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
103 pages ; 22 cm
When his father dies, Bo Gamage warily moves to the Mojave Desert home of his distant and estranged relatives, the Martinkas, and finds that "Mad" lives up to her name, PawPaw despises him, and Aunt Juna hopes he'll help search for the gold mine that started a family feud.
Reading Level:
570 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.1 2.0 48069.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.2 6 Quiz: 24928.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The Gamages and the Martinkas despise each other, because of a family feud handed down from generation to generation. Nevertheless, to escape a foster home, newly orphaned Bo Gamage steps off the bus in the California desert to meet his distant cousin Madeleine, a genuine on-the-hoof Martinka. About his own age, Madeleine wears big sunglasses and calls herself Mzzz Mad. The name sounds to Bo like a mosquito in the air, about to attack. "You one of them ornery Gamages?" she asks. "Where's your horns and your mangy tail?" Enemies at first sight, they find themselves under the same roof in a ghost town presided over by cantankerous Charlie Martinka, a former cowboy movie star turned prospector. Bo is quickly caught up in a razzle-dazzle of goings-on, which include a wild battle for a missing map, the mystery of the tattooed head, and a daring search for the legendary Pegleg Smith gold mine. And before they know it, Bo and Mzzz Mad find themselves handcuffed -- together!

Author Notes

Sid Fleischman was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 16, 1920 but grew up in San Diego, California. He loved all things magical and toured professionally as a magician until the beginning of World War II. During the war, he served in the U.S. Naval Reserve, and afterwards, he graduated from San Diego State University in 1949.

After graduation, he worked as a reporter with the San Diego Daily Journal. After the paper folded in 1950, he started writing fiction. He tried his hand at children's books because his own children often wondered what their father did. To show them how he created stories, he wrote them a book. He wrote more than 50 fiction and nonfiction works during his lifetime including The Abracadabra Kid: A Writer's Life; Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini; The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West; The Thirteenth Floor; and The Ghost in the Noonday Sun. His book, The Whipping Boy, won the Newberry Award in 1987. He is the father of Newbery Medal winning writer and poet Paul Fleischman; they are the only father and son to receive Newbery awards.

He also wrote screenplays including Lafayette Escadrille, Blood Alley, and The Whipping Boy. He died from cancer on March 17, 2010 at the age of 90.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-7. His father is dead, and child welfare officials are itching to put him in a foster home, so 12-year-old Bo Gamage decides to take up the strange invitation he's received from someone associated with his mother's family, the Martinkas. Unfortunately, the Martinkas have been feuding with the Gamages for generations. Bo's new life gets off to a rocky start when he disembarks from the bus in Queen of Sheba, California, and encounters his cousin, the energetic, disdainful Madeleine, "Mzzz Mad," who immediately sets him on edge. Relaxed Aunt Juna smoothes things overMartinka makes an appearance. Paw Paw, as he's called, has no use for Gamages. To him they're cheaters and sneaks who stole a treasure map from his family. After an oddly disturbing scene involving Paw Paw, Bo, and a snake (it's not clear whether Paw Paw is testing Bo's courage or being hateful and irresponsible), Bo decides he's had enough. Then, two strangers show up, and he changes his mind. A less talented writer might not have been able to bring the novel's several story lines together. But Fleischman does a first-rate job, using some clever twists and snappy repartee. Interchanges between Bo and Mzzz Mad are great fun, and the characters--from lonely, angry Bo to the surprising ruthless young thieves--are a sturdy bunch. Even the secret of the map is unraveled with panache. Add to that a shot of genuine suspense, and you have a quick, enjoyable read that will fly off the shelves. An endnote explains how the author pieced together real stories to make his own book. --Stephanie Zvirin

Publisher's Weekly Review

Take one orphaned boy, send him to relatives with whom his family has been feuding for generations, add a long-lost gold mine and a pair of no-good, low-down dirty rascals and voil the stage is set for a classic Fleischman (Bandit's Moon) tale. In his contemporary western, 12-year-old Bo Gamage's arrival in Queen of Sheba, Calif. "the jumping-off place to nowhere" is less than auspicious. Bo and his smart-mouthed cousin Madeleine Martinka (she goes by Mzzz Mad) take an instant dislike to each other, and grumpy Paw Paw, Mad's ex-cowboy movie star grandpa, is equally unwelcoming. Only Aunt Juna, an artist who inveigles Bo into a scheme to rekindle Paw Paw's interest in life with a fake treasure map, shows him any kindness. A couple on a crime spree throw a monkey wrench into Bo's plans to move on, however, and he soon finds himself handcuffed to Mzzz Mad and in fairly desperate straits. Fleischman, who can spin a yarn like nobody's business, is in top form here, delivering a thumping good page-turner spiced with humor, snappy descriptions ("The front door stood wide open, as if the building were gasping for air"; Mzzz Mad says Paw Paw feels "older'n greasewood") and a lickety-split plot. Readers can just sit back, relax and watch a master at work. Ages 8-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-Fleischman's many fans won't be disappointed by this fast-paced tale. The story is set in a tiny western town that really isn't a town at all-it's just the remnants of a Western movie set, stuck in the California desert. Recently orphaned Bo Gamage decides to visit his only remaining relatives, despite a longstanding family feud between the Gamages and Martinkas. The 12-year-old discovers that Queen of Sheba's only residents are his great-uncle Charlie Martinka, a washed-up, cantankerous cowboy actor; Aunt Juna; and cousin Madeleine, a 13-year-old who calls herself "Mzzz Mad." The feud centers on an alleged gold mine in the nearby hills, which both sides of the family claim but no one can find. It's not long before Bo realizes that he would like to go back to the city life he's used to and escape the bad blood, but the realities of the harsh desert keep him from walking away. Then, a couple of modern-day bandits arrive on the scene and hold the family hostage. The resulting troubles draw the relatives together and the mystery surrounding the contentious gold mine is solved. The narrative speeds along with enough plot twists to keep readers flipping pages. Character development suffers a little, the conflict between the title characters is a bit superficial, and the resolution is not very satisfying. Charlie Martinka, however, is colorful and charming, still clanking around in his spurs and cowboy delusions. The combination of his character and Fleischman's storytelling prowess results in a fun, quick read.-Steve Clancy, Colonial Village Elementary School, Niagara Falls, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.