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

A 12-year-old orphaned boy is sent to relatives with whom his family has been feuding for generations. According to PW's starred review, "Fleischman delivers a thumping good page-turner spiced with humor, snappy descriptions, and a lickety-split plot." Ages 8-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-Sid Fleischman's modern-day western (Greenwillow, 2001) sets 12-year-old San Franciscan Bo Gamage amid estranged relatives in the Mojave Desert. Orphaned and on the run from social workers, he meets Aunt Juna, Paw Paw Martinka, and cousin Madeleine, aka Mzzz Mad. As a result of the Gamage-Martinka feud, Bo and Mzzz Mad have both been raised to believe that each other's family members are lying, sneaky thieves. It takes two thugs, a fake map, and a pair of handcuffs to finally bring the two together to solve the book's mystery and put the feud to rest. While the plot moves along with well-drawn illustrations of desert life and a peculiar mystery, development of the relationship between Bo and Mzzz Mad never progresses beyond the superficial. Paw Paw is by far the most remarkable character-an enigmatic old western movie star who won't shoot a snake to save Bo, yet rescues stray dogs from the dangers of the desert. Johnny Heller's narration is clear and well paced, and the quality of the recording is excellent. Although his endearing vocal characterization of Paw Paw Martinka has a priceless Clint Eastwood meets Mr. Rogers quality, the lack of other voice changes throughout the recording make it sometimes difficult to follow. What should be witty sarcasm or a caustic exchange between characters is at times lost in the bland oration. While not the best performance of Heller's career, this amusing audiobook, with its engaging plot and some laugh-out-loud one-liners, would be a solid choice for middle school library collections.-Leigh Ann Rumsey, Penn Yan Academy, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.