Monday, October 7, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Harry Flammable

Today’s Pick: Harry Flammable by Frank O’Keeffe

Published by Dundurn Press, 2013

From Dundurn:

Despite a disastrous attempt at driving a bike through a burning refrigerator box in second grade, high schooler Harry Flanagan never gives up his goal of becoming a movie star or at least a stuntman. However, since the bicycle episode, it seems as if fires pop up everywhere Harry goes, earning him the infamous nickname of "Harry Flammable."
Now a shed at Harry's school has been set on fire, destroying Work Experience Counsellor Shamberg's new mountain bike -- and Harry's charred cap was found at the scene. Harry's dream Work Experience placement with Pocket Money Pictures is given to another student, and Harry is forced to take a position with Chef Antonio at the restaurant in The Ritz, the hotel Pocket Money Pictures' staff is staying at while filming a historical adventure flick set in China.

Will Harry find a new way into the movie of his dreams, or will he be forced to endure a placement he hates and an inevitable kitchen fire ... or two?

My Take:
Although this book is listed as YA, I think upper middle grade readers would enjoy it (ages 11-14). The book is not packed with action, but the pace moves along and I was interested to find out how Harry was going to get out of some of the situations he got himself into. There is a bit of romance with his feelings for Celia, a girl in the work experience program. The idea that Harry seemed to get himself into trouble with fires everywhere he went was a lot of fun!

As a writer, I really enjoyed the different settings the author included in this novel, including a hotel restaurant, the hotel itself when Harry was on room service duty, and a movie set. It made me think about how different settings have an important role in bringing a story to life.

Opening Line:

“Okay, Harry. Tell me again. Where were you when the equipment shed burned down?”

Other Info:

Frank O’Keeffe is a Canadian author living in Calgary, Alberta. He has worked as a farmer and a fourth grade teacher, in addition to being a writer.

In an interview for the Calgary Herald he says, “There is no set formula for writing for young readers…But good stories, a little adventure and a lot of comedy go a long way.”

Other Books by this Author Include:
School Stinks!

Weekend at the Ritz
Guppy Love

Nancy Nylen

It's Only a Game

If It Rains Again Tomorrow, Can We Go Home?
For more info, visit Harry O’Keeffe’s facebook page or read about Harry Flammable on the Dundurn Press website.

You can find more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday books by checking out Shannon Messenger’s blog! Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the middle grade novel, Keeper of the Lost Cities.


  1. Sounds interesting. Thanks for reviewing it. I think the title is really intriguing too.

  2. Wow - interesting book! I liked his formula for writing for young readers.

  3. Interesting concept...but the cover disturbs me...

    1. Yeah, the cover is a little creepy, even for YA. I don't think it really fits with the story.

  4. What a strange cover! Even though a match kind of makes sense if fires start wherever he goes, it's still hard to look at. Of course, the publisher chose the cover, not the author. The story sounds great.


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