9-yr.-old Jeff dreams of being a motorcycle stuntman and champion race car driver. Bitten by a muskrat and rushed to the hospital for life-saving rabies shots, he distracts himself from his pain by fantasizing he’s a driver in the Indy 500. With his bossy sister, elderly babysitter, and new friends coaching him from pit lane, Jeff white-knuckles his way around the track, chased by a pack of mad muskrats bent on his destruction. Will he take the checkered flag, or get knocked over the fence and end up in a nearby river? CLUTCH ! is a funny and mostly true memoir about fear, family, race-car driving rodents and the bravery and humor it takes to grow up. (“Pacey Packer, Unicorn Tracker” x “Smile” x “I Survived the Attack of the Grizzlies”)
Age Range:Middle Grade
Genre:Adventure, Animals, Fiction, Humor, Magical Realism, Memoir, Sports
Page Count Estimate:200
When I was nine I was bitten by a muskrat and thought I was going to die. So I set out my toys for my friends, made peace with my sister, and waited for the curtains to draw one final time. It was the first time I had really considered dying, and conversely, what it meant to be alive.
Reflecting on the incident years later, I realized that I hadn’t read any books that dealt with a kid’s first understanding of his own mortality. Could I write one, and make it funny, adventurous, and more entertaining than didactic? And could I throw in my childhood passion for car racing? CLUTCH ! is that effort.
Originally from Toronto, Jeff now lives close to New York City, where he earned an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU. After writing plays and working as a theatre photographer, he found inspiration in kid-lit, and began studying illustration through classes at the School of Visual Arts, the Highlights Foundation and the SCBWI. Jeff has had emergency rabies shots twice in his life, and is the education director of the Rabid Rodents Petting Zoo, in Tall Tails, New Jersey.