Cover image for Melonhead
De Guzman, Michael.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.
Physical Description:
213 pages ; 22 cm
Tired of living with his uncaring, divorced parents, Sidney, a twelve-year-old boy with an unusually large head, takes a bus trip across the United States which becomes a journey of self-discovery.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.2 6.0 64507.
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Keith Johnstone entered the Royal Court Theatre as a new playwright in 1956: a decade later he emerged as a groundbreaking director and teacher of improvisation. His decisive book Impro (1979), described Johnstone's unique system of training: weaving together theories and techniques to encourage spontaneous, collaborative creation using the intuition and imagination of the actors. Johnstone has since become world-renowned, inspiring theatre greats and beginners alike; and his work continues to influence practice within and beyond the traditional theatre.Theresa Robbins Dudeck is the first author to rigorously examine Johnstone's life and career using a combination of archival documents - many from Johnstone's personal collection - participant observation, and interviews with Johnstone, his colleagues and former students. Keith Johnstone: A Critical Biography is a fascinating journey through the physical spaces that have served as Johnstone's transformative classrooms, and into the conceptual spaces which inform his radical pedagogy and approach to artistic work.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-7. At 12, red-haired Sidney T. Mellon is short and pencil-thin with a round head that is much too big for his body. No wonder his stepbrother--and just about everyone else he encounters--cruelly calls him "Melonhead." On top of that, Sidney spends his life shuttling between distant cities, the respective homes of his divorced parents. When Sidney's impossible stepfather announces plans to adopt him, Sidney responds by hopping aboard a transcontinental bus. The ensuing trip becomes a ritual journey of self-discovery, enlivened by a series of encounters with fellow travelers, not all of whom are well intentioned. The story, though smoothly written, is sometimes ill-served by its sophisticated use of the omniscient narrator's voice, which may appeal more to adults than the readers most likely to pick up the novel. But Sidney still comes across as a quick-witted, "nervy little kid" whose changes of identity will keep kids entertained and rooting for him to the end. Michael Cart

Publisher's Weekly Review

Teleplay writer de Guzman's polished first novel for children centers on 12-year-old Sidney Mellon, whose uncommonly large head and unfortunate name earn him the eponymous moniker. After being bounced between Los Angeles, home of his unsuccessful, self-centered salesman father, and Seattle, where his weak-willed mother won't stand up to her bullying second husband, Sidney decides to run away. Traveling cross-country by bus, he fabricates a series of aliases (Nestor Beachnut, Edsel Bellringer, Larry Luckman) and aspirations (to become a circus clown, actor, jockey). These he shares with the idiosyncratic characters he meets, among them a 101-year-old Native American on a mission to a pawn shop to retrieve a piece of turquoise that once belonged to his mother, a Pennsylvania couple intent on abducting him to replace their dead son, and an Irish man dying of prostate cancer. Beneath the surface eccentricities, Sidney's quest to find a home for himself has strong emotional resonance. The most poignant moments occur when Sidney, alone, mulls things over; sitting at a restaurant counter, for example, he muses that he isn't "particularly happy" about being on his own, "but he wasn't sure he knew what happiness was anyway." Young readers whose own problems seem, like Sidney's head, too large to bear will identify with this unlikely hero. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Sidney T. Mellon's enormous round head covered in red hair, combined with a perpetually pale complexion, brings him unwelcome stares from strangers and taunts from bullies. The 12-year-old lives in Seattle with his mother, his emotionally abusive stepfather, and his cruel stepbrother. His mom is too manipulated by her husband to give her son the support he needs. De Guzman's depiction of these dysfunctional family dynamics is outstanding. Sidney spends part of his time with his father in Los Angeles but the man has little ambition for anything, including being a dad. Sidney decides to take a bus trip across the country to get as far away as possible from his parents and stepfather, inventing several identities for himself on his journey. He encounters a host of odd, memorable characters, including a man dying of cancer who picks his pocket and a couple who tries to adopt him. In New York City, he is mugged and beaten by a gang of kids. Sidney then heads for Boston but impulsively gets off in the town where his grandmother lives. At first she is annoyed at him for upsetting her routine, but the two develop a deep emotional bond that both discover has been missing from their lives. Melonhead is a poignant story of a disconnected boy searching for a place where he feels loved and wanted. At times emotionally wrenching, the story is also entertaining and ultimately satisfying. Readers will identify with Sidney's emotional struggles and succumb to his charm.-Edward Sullivan, White Pine School, TN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.