The Last Martin   -     By: Jonathan Friesen
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The Last Martin

ZonderKidz / 2011 / Hardcover

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Product Description

Thirteen-year-old Martin Boyle is cursed. His aunt is about to give birth to a baby boy who, according to family tradition, will be named "Martin"---and his cemetery research reveals that when one Martin is born, another dies! That means he has three months to live. Can he stop the jinx in time? Ages 9 to 12. 272 pages, hardcover from Zonderkidz.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 272
Vendor: ZonderKidz
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 031072080X
ISBN-13: 9780310720805
Availability: In Stock
Ages: 9-12

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Publisher's Description

Thirteen-year-old Martin Boyle struggles to break a family curse after discovering that he has only twelve weeks to live.

Author Bio

Jonathan Friesen is an author, speaker, and youth writing coach from Mora, Minnesota. His first young adult novel, Jerk, California, received the ALA Schneider Award. When he’s not writing, speaking at schools, or teaching, Jonathan loves to travel and hang out with his wife and three kids.

Editorial Reviews

The revelation that every time a new Martin is born into his family another one kicks the bucket stuns, bums and ultimately lights a rocket under 13-year-old Martin Boyle. Friesen presents his earnest narrator as a lad sounder the influence of his fanatically safety-conscious mother that he flies into a panic at any encounter with nature (“They’re only trees. They’re only ugly trees. They’re only ugly, boy-hating trees. They’re only ugly, boy-hating, hungry---”) and wears a portable air bag on the school bus. The discovery of matching birth and death dates for all the Martins in the Boyle family cemetery sends Martin into a tailspin, but with help from a sturdy supporting cast he pulls out and firmly resolves to grab life with both hands while finding a way to break the “curse,” if he can, in the few months remaining to him until his Aunt Jenny’s due date. These helpers notably include Poole, a young vagrant with a relentlessly sunny outlook, and classmate Julia, to whom Martin fears to speak until she takes his developing story about the adventures of a White Knight and his Lady Love and creates gorgeous illustrations. Spiced with plenty of slapstick, the yarn speeds its protagonist through a succession of highs, lows and improbable triumphs on the way to a hilariously melodramatic finish. (Adventure. 11-13) -- The revelation that every time a new Martin is born into his family another one kicks the bucket stuns, bums and ultimately lights a rocket under 13-year-old Martin Boyle. Friesen presents his earnest narrator as a lad sounder the influence of his fanatically safety-conscious mother that he flies into a panic at any encounter with nature (“They’re only trees. They’re only ugly trees. They’re only ugly, boy-hating trees. They’re only ugly, boy-hating, hungry---”) and wears a portable air bag on the school bus. The discovery of matching birth and death dates for all the Martins in the Boyle family cemetery sends Martin into a tailspin, but with help from a sturdy supporting cast he pulls out and firmly resolves to grab life with both hands while finding a way to break the “curse,” if he can, in the few months remaining to him until his Aunt Jenny’s due date. These helpers notably include Poole, a young vagrant with a relentlessly sunny outlook, and classmate Julia, to whom Martin fears to speak until she takes his developing story about the adventures of a White Knight and his Lady Love and creates gorgeous illustrations. Spiced with plenty of slapstick, the yarn speeds its protagonist through a succession of highs, lows and improbable triumphs on the way to a hilariously melodramatic finish. (Adventure. 11-13)
Gr 5-7–Martin Boyle was “born dead,” his lifeless body placed on his mother. Suddenly the baby moves. From that moment on, his mother does everything in her power to protect him from anything that could possibly harm him. In fact, she crosses over into paranoia and obsessive behavior. Martin’s friend Charley is used to him getting on the bus each day with his portable air bag strapped to his chest and his mother running to school to check on his safety. During an annual trip to visit the old family cemetery, the boy realizes a strange correlation among the Martins in the family. It is tradition that the first boy be named Martin, but each time a new Martin is born, the old one must die. His Aunt Jenny is pregnant with a boy, due shortly. Martin knows that his days are numbered so his actions become reckless, which lands him in detention and gives him a chance to get to know his crush, Julia. He has been writing a story about a white knight, a black knight, and a princess, which Julia loves. The story symbolizes an escape that both Julia, a foster child, and Martin crave. The crisis of Martin’s impending death is the joining factor in this odd hodgepodge of characters, including Poole, a spirited but unkempt homeless boy. They form a bond in trying to keep Martin alive. This is a sobering read in many respects as many of the adults are directly responsible for the emotional baggage these children carry. Julia fights against it, Poole runs away, Martin’s sister cowers, but Martin triumphs. Minor characters such as the physical education teacher who employs completely illegal means of punishment will further fuel readers’ angst. This is a great choice for discussions.–Julie Shatterly, W.A. Bess Elementary School, Gastonia, NC -- Gr 5-7–Martin Boyle was “born dead,” his lifeless body placed on his mother. Suddenly the baby moves. From that moment on, his mother does everything in her power to protect him from anything that could possibly harm him. In fact, she crosses over into paranoia and obsessive behavior. Martin’s friend Charley is used to him getting on the bus each day with his portable air bag strapped to his chest and his mother running to school to check on his safety. During an annual trip to visit the old family cemetery, the boy realizes a strange correlation among the Martins in the family. It is tradition that the first boy be named Martin, but each time a new Martin is born, the old one must die. His Aunt Jenny is pregnant with a boy, due shortly. Martin knows that his days are numbered so his actions become reckless, which lands him in detention and gives him a chance to get to know his crush, Julia. He has been writing a story about a white knight, a black knight, and a princess, which Julia loves. The story symbolizes an escape that both Julia, a foster child, and Martin crave. The crisis of Martin’s impending death is the joining factor in this odd hodgepodge of characters, including Poole, a spirited but unkempt homeless boy. They form a bond in trying to keep Martin alive. This is a sobering read in many respects as many of the adults are directly responsible for the emotional baggage these children carry. Julia fights against it, Poole runs away, Martin’s sister cowers, but Martin triumphs. Minor characters such as the physical education teacher who employs completely illegal means of punishment will further fuel readers’ angst. This is a great choice for discussions.–Julie Shatterly, W.A. Bess Elementary School, Gastonia, NC
The Last Martin” is a fast-paced and quirky story of growing up, discovering your independence, and learning to truly live. When Martin Boyle concludes that his name is cursed and he has only weeks to live, his entire world is altered. Long an outsider at school and perpetually worried due to the influence of his hypochondriac mother, Martin finds his pending demise a source of dread, but also a catalyst for dramatic changes. In short, in the face of death, Martin begins to learn what it means to live---but will that prove a lesson that comes too late? Jonathan Friensen grabs the reader’s attention from the start, and the pace hardly lets up through the next 266 pages. The book is written from Martin’s perspective so it takes a bit before the various elements of the story come together clearly, but once they do it is a worthwhile adventure. Medieval knights battle, friends are made, crushes blossom, wars are reenacted, and all the while death edges ever closer. Touching on themes of fate, friendship, family relationships, and navigating the difficulties of school life as a teenager, I found “The Last Martin” to be a fun read and a strangely inspiring tale. -- The Last Martin” is a fast-paced and quirky story of growing up, discovering your independence, and learning to truly live. When Martin Boyle concludes that his name is cursed and he has only weeks to live, his entire world is altered. Long an outsider at school and perpetually worried due to the influence of his hypochondriac mother, Martin finds his pending demise a source of dread, but also a catalyst for dramatic changes. In short, in the face of death, Martin begins to learn what it means to live---but will that prove a lesson that comes too late? Jonathan Friensen grabs the reader’s attention from the start, and the pace hardly lets up through the next 266 pages. The book is written from Martin’s perspective so it takes a bit before the various elements of the story come together clearly, but once they do it is a worthwhile adventure. Medieval knights battle, friends are made, crushes blossom, wars are reenacted, and all the while death edges ever closer. Touching on themes of fate, friendship, family relationships, and navigating the difficulties of school life as a teenager, I found “The Last Martin” to be a fun read and a strangely inspiring tale.

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  1. Oregon
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Turned out to be a lot of laugh-out-loud fun
    September 9, 2011
    Jill Williamson
    Oregon
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 3
    First I (Jill) must say, that I bought this book strictly because of the book trailer. I thought it was awesome. And I showed it to my son, Luke. After he watched it, he nodded at me, and I ordered the book. So, here is the trailer, for your viewing pleasure:

    Martin Boyle lives a crazy life. His mother is a germaphobe and his father is never home—always off reenacting Civil War battles, his best friend is trying to steal the girl he likes, and on top of all that_ Martin is cursed. In a graveyard of his ancestors, he discovers this horrible truth. When one Martin is born, the previous Martin dies. And Martin's aunt is about to give birth to a boy, who, according to family tradition, will be named Martin.

    I read this book aloud to my son, and we had a really hard time understanding what was going on at first. There were several places where Luke stopped my reading to asked a question. He was confused as to what had happened. So I read back to see what we had misunderstood. It was mostly the mom's character that had us puzzled. Once we realized that she was a germaphobe—and a beyond crazy one—things made a lot more sense. It would have been wise to have Martin think about her crazy, germaphobic tendencies in the first few pages, but maybe it was just us.

    About halfway through the book, it took off and we were hooked. We loved Poole. Once that guy came into the story, it was hysterical. Lani was also a fun character. And the idea of living each day as if it were the last, being yourself, and looking for joy in every moment made this a really powerful story. It turned out to be a lot of laugh-out-loud fun for both of us.
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