Thirteen-year-old Travis has a secret: he can't read. But a shrewd teacher and a sassy girl are about to change everything in this witty and deeply moving novel. Travis is missing his old home in the country, and he's missing his old dog, Rosco. Now there's just the cramped place he shares with his well-meaning but alcoholic grandpa; a new school and the dreaded routine of passing when he's called on to read out loud. But that's before Travis meets Mr McQueen, who doesn't take "pass" for an answer - a rare teacher whose savvy persistence has Travis slowly unlockign a book on the natural world. And it's before Travis is noticed by Velveeta, a girl whose wry banter and colourful scarves belie some hard secrets of her own. With sympathy, humour and disarming honesty, Pat Schmatz brings to life a cast of utterly believable characters - and captures the moments of trust and connection that make all the difference. It addresses an issue - illiteracy - that is very real, but does so in a fresh, teen-friendly voice. Masterfully realized characters include not only the main character, Travis, and his new friend, outrageous Velveeta, but also a brilliant teacher and a determined, dedicated librarian. The characters in this book come from very sad circumstances, but this is ultimately a very hopeful and, indeed, entertaining read.