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Scrib    by David Ives order for
by David Ives
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HarperCollins, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

David Ives' Scrib is a witty Western that moves with the speed of a page-turner of a suspense novel. Scrib is a sixteen-year-old man who works around the western town of Hill, writing letters for the population's illiterate and legible-handwriting-challenged. A popular guy who never dreamt of causing trouble, Scrib finds himself in deep water when he attempts to get out of his profession after a brutal warning from a mysterious man in grey. With the help of friends living on the fringes of society, Scrib discovers his true calling in life, while saving the day.

Ives' prose, which is somewhat in the style of Mark Twain, makes up in readability what it lacks in dialect - Ives does mimic Twain's way of writing dialect, but only on certain words that appear once or twice per page, as opposed to Twain's sentences that often have to be read aloud to be understood. Partly because of this, and partly because of Ives' background of writing short and pithy (ten-minute) plays, middle school readers will find Scrib a much easier read than some of Twain's works, which can at times get rather drawn-out. And the plot is filled with humor that will keep readers engaged even if they are not fans of Westerns.

While the book is aimed at middle school readers, it would not be a good choice for younger children. As in most Westerns, there are some violent scenes and bad language (although Ives never writes the whole word out just the first and last letter with dashes in between). Personally, I think Scrib would make a highly entertaining film that would appeal to all ages (except the very young). David Ives is my favorite playwright and I always look forward to seeing his plays; now, I am also looking forward to reading his books.

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