Written by Jim Averbeck
Illustrated by Nick Bertozzi
Combining a lot of conjecture with a lot of historical accuracy, author Jim Averbeck takes the reader on a romp around San Francisco of the 1950’s. When eleven-year-old Jack Fair is orphaned, he moves to the Fairmont Hotel with his Aunt Edith. Shortly after Jack encounters Alfred Hitchcock, in town to check out filming locations, his aunt disappears. The last thing Jack wants is for the police to get involved. He knows his life is better outside the system, even with a mean aunt. So he enlists Mr. Hitchcock’s help to find his aunt. Communication with the kidnappers takes place with carefully arranged chocolates, on laundry lists, and by words circled on a newspaper article. The search leads them to an old mission, to Chinatown, and to the docks. We get to see Hitch as a beatnik poet and as an Aunt Edith facsimile.
Averbeck follows the smoking gun rule carefully, where anything mentioned more than a couple of times has more significance to the story than suspected at first. Each chapter is tied to and titled after one of Hitchcock’s films. And each chapter begins with a short graphic depiction of what happens in that chapter, helping to increase comprehension.
Readers will learn about film history, as well as about the books that inspired many of Hitch’s films. They will also learn about the history of San Francisco and some of its most famous landmarks.
- Author: Jim Averbeck
- Illustrator: Nick Bertozzi
- Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster, 2014
- Reviewer: Sue Poduska
- Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
- ISBN: 978-1-4424-9447-3
- Genre: Historical fiction, mystery
- Grade level: 3 to 7
- Extras: Author’s note setting historical perspective, extensive appendix describing many Hitchcock films, fun video on Amazon and Simon and Schuster Kids modeled on the famous scene from The Birds