"To sell a book, you need a
description on the back. So here's mine: My name is
Fiona Loomis. I was born on August 11, 1977. I am
recording this message on the morning of October 13,
1989. Today I am thirteen years old. Not a day older.
Not a day younger."
Fiona Loomis is Alice, back from Wonderland. She is Lucy, returned from Narnia. She is Coraline, home from the Other World. She is the girl we read about in storybooks, but here's the difference: She is real.
Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary is her neighbor in a
town where everyone knows each other. One afternoon,
Fiona shows up at Alistair's doorstep with a strange
proposition. She wants him to write her biography. What
begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a
frightening glimpse into a clearly troubled mind. For
Fiona tells Alistair a secret. In her basement there's a
gateway and it leads to the magical world of Aquavania,
the place where stories are born. In Aquavania, there's
a creature called the Riverman and he's stealing the
souls of children. Fiona's soul could be next.
Alistair has a choice. He can believe her, or he can
believe something else...something even more terrifying.
"Lines between reality and fantasy blur in
this powerful, disquieting tale of lost children,
twisted friendship and the power of storytelling."
"In this dark, twisting tale, readers are
never sure if Fiona’s story is true or not, and they
won’t want to stop reading until they find out...this
magical tale is sure to please readers of urban
fantasy, and with its theme of missing children and
changing friendships, it will be perfect for fans of
Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint, too." - Booklist
"This novel built of stories yields
nightmares...This writerly, chiaroscuro book is
replete with the portent of violence, and thick with
ideas about the psychological need for stories,
all while questioning the ability of stories to redeem
the tellers. Readers will find themselves confronted
with deep, unanswered questions regarding the
relationship of collective imaginary worlds to
reality, the evolving nature of memories and
friendships, and the unknowability of people. Those
ready to explore darker realities will devour this
book." - School
"Somewhere between Holly Black's Doll
Bones and Nova Ren Suma's 17 & Gone
in audience and tone, this blend of magical realism
and mystery blurs the line between reality and
fantasy, setting up a creepy unease that both disturbs
and propels the reader forward...the deliciously
tangled web of a plot defies categorization." -
Bulletin of the Center For Children's Books
"Starmer explores the relationship between
creation and theft, reality and fantasy in this
haunting novel...the novel's strength is in the
pervasive aura of unknowing that Starmer creates and
sustains." - Publisher's
"The Riverman contains plenty of
boisterous action—mischief nights with “eggings”—and
dialogue peppered with enough “greasy farts” talk to
entertain middle schoolers. Alistair, Fiona, and
Charlie are memorable characters. The amazing
Fiona-controlled Aquavania where chocolate-chip-mint
ice cream covers the ground will also delight fantasy
readers. But this story also incorporates deeper story
threads ripe for exploration...There is a lot to
ponder and recommend in this unusual tale." - VOYA
"Every culture has a magical river story. Some
rivers promise the pleasures of eternal youth, while
others promise the paradise of eternal salvation. The
Riverman promises a more exhilarating alternative.
Dive into this book and you may never resurface."
- Jack Gantos, Newbery Award-winning author of Dead End in Norvelt
"Like When You Reach Me and Breadcrumbs,
The Riverman is about real people with real
problems who find a twist in their reality. And like
those books, I would find it deeply engaging even
without the fantastic angle. It is the nuanced,
believable children dealing with mundane crises that
make it a great book." - Kurtis
Scaletta, author of Mudville, Mamba
Point and The Winter of the Robots
"The Riverman is a dangerous book. Alistair’s journey exposes the fact in fantasy and the innocence of experience as it contorts in a first crush and writhes in unrequited love. Starmer has broken through the boundaries—like the Riverman himself—of middle-grade fiction to create the truest portal story since Coraline." - Steve Brezenoff, author of Guy in Real Life, The Field Trip Mysteries and Brooklyn, Burning
"Aaron Starmer has crafted a riveting,
realistic world for Alistair and Fiona to explore
their loyalties and presumed truths. The Riverman
takes them and the reader through a door to an
undeniable confirmation of the heady potential of the
stories we share." - Kim Baker, author of the
Crystal Kite Award-winning Pickle
"The Riverman is a haunting, wondrous
thing." - Kelly Barnhill, author of The
Mostly True Story of Jack and Iron-Hearted
"As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the
best of 2014...Once everyone’s read it, I’m going to
have SO much more to say. A good book does that. It
gives your tongue wings. The Riverman may creep you
out and make you want to hide under the covers for a
good long while, but just TRY to set it down. Can’t be
done. And that is what I look for in a book." -
Betsy Bird, School Library Journal's Fuse
Library Guild Summer 2014 selection
Spring 2014 selection
Best Books of Month (9-12)
The Riverman is
published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, a division of
Macmillan. It is represented by Michael Bourret at Dystel&
Goderich Literary Management.
March 18, 2014
"Call it coincidence, call it
fate. This is the place you come. There's nowhere else.
There's no one else. This is the entire world."
These words welcome Martin Maple to the village of
Xibalba. Like the other children who've journeyed there,
he faces an awful truth.
He was forgotten.
When families and friends all disappeared one
afternoon, these were the only ones left
behind. There's Darla, who drives a monster truck,
Felix, who uses string and wood to rebuild the Internet,
Lane, who crafts elaborate contraptions, and nearly
forty others, each equally brilliant and peculiar.
Inspired by the prophesies of a mysterious boy who
talks to animals, Martin believes he can reunite them
with their loved ones. But believing and knowing are two
different things, as he soon discovers with the push of
a button, flip of a switch, turn of a dial...
"One of the most unique, captivating books
I've ever read. I was completely pulled into its pages
and they never let me go." - James Dashner,
bestselling author of The
"Both literary and engaging, this is the kind
of book readers will want to return to for new
discoveries." - Kirkus Reviews
"Starmer’s science-fiction fable ultimately
becomes gripping and haunting as the characters
explore matters of faith, leadership, and
responsibility, culminating in a reflective,
bittersweet conclusion worthy of Neil Gaiman."
"Starmer weaves an enchanting tale full of mystery and magic. The novel includes moments of gentle humor that contrast with despair and sadness, creating a perfect balance." - VOYA Magazine
A Junior Library Guild
Fall 2011 selection.
The Only Ones
is published by Delacorte Press, a division of Random
House. It is represented by Elisabeth Weed at Weed
September 13, 2011
Imagine you're 10. If you are
actually 10, then imagine you're you. What would you
like to read about?
Monkeys? Sure. Wizards? Makes sense. Ponies? I guess
that's possible, but I wouldn't go telling people that.
How about this? Five flawed but loveable loners become
embroiled in a vast conspiracy involving fast food,
standarized testing and growling creatures. Sound like a
yawn? Okay. What if I said an evil vice principal
imprisons those five loners in the basement of their
junior high school and they have to use all their
nerdish skills to break out?
Still not doing it for you? Well it did it for School
Library Journal. They proclaimed that "this fun romp is a break
from the often-heavy realistic fiction that is
omnipresent in today's literature." Got it?
It's fun. A romp, for crying out loud! An enemy of
Cynics are still shaking their heads. "School Library
Journal?" they're saying. "That old rag." To them, I wag
a finger, then point it to the unimpeachable The Bulletin of the
Center for Children's Books. This is what
they said. "The themes
will all resonate; from the anxiety over high-stakes
testing to the unfairness of detention-loving vice
principals to the hotness of school nurses, this
whacks all of the eighth-grade nerd-boy moles...Give
this to nerds and non-nerds who are just beginning to
be a little bit cynical about their schooling
experience." The BCCB suffers no fools. When
they say something is for cynics, it's not advice. It's
an order. Buy it. Give it. Buy it again.
An Association of Booksellers for Children 2009
New Voices Pick
published by Delacorte Press, a division of Random
House. It is represented by Elisabeth Weed at Weed
October 13, 2009
There are literally hundreds of
good reasons to read this book from the incorrigible
scamps at McSweeney's. There are two great ones.
Give those McSweeney's folks some credit. They find and
foster young, idiosyncratic talent, and while you may
not recognize most of the names in this slight and
slightly silly book, I guarantee that more than a couple
will become future literary luminaries. And, as an added
bonus, I present you with something not featured in the
book, my list about Beetle Bailey. It's best read with
a cup of postum and an imagination.
September 12, 2006
If you've always had a roof
above you, if you've always paid the rent. If you've
never even set foot inside a tent...
If you can't build a fire to save your life. If you've
lied about being the outdoor type. Then you probably
shouldn't get this book. Otherwise, grab yourself a
copy, stuff it in your backpack and head over to the
Empire State. My wife Cate, my brother Tim, and yours
truly will be your guides to the finest places to pitch
a tent. Because one thing's for sure. You're not
crashing on our couches.
October 29, 2013