Our story begins in a dusty little town in California, a bustling place called Hollywood…
Isobel Ransom is feeling anxious. Her father is away treating wounded soldiers in France, leaving Izzy to be the responsible one at home. But it’s hard to be responsible when your little sister is chasing a fast-talking, movie-obsessed boy all over Hollywood! Ranger is directing his very own moving picture…and wants Izzy and Sylvie to be his stars.
Izzy is sure Mother wouldn’t approve, but scouting locations, scrounging film, and “borrowing” a camera turn out to be the perfect distractions from Izzy’s worries. There’s just one problem; their movie has no ending. And it has to be perfect-the kind of ending where the hero saves the day and returns home to his family. Safe and sound. It just has to.
The Wild West atmosphere of early Hollywood and the home front of a country at war form a fascinating contest to award-winning author J.B. Cheaney’s (Somebody on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous) new novel about the power of cinema in helping us make sense of an unexpected world.
Books A Million- http://ow.ly/Scn63
Excerpt from I Don’t Know How the Story Ends
While we waited to cross the street, Ranger swerved his head and gave me another of his piercing stares.
“Why do you keep looking at me like that?”
I looked but could not tell what I was looking at. Like a gigantic top hat, it stood about twenty feet high, as big around as a house, with a wooden platform circling it like a brim. The cylinder was painted with low rolling hills, trees, and blue sky. A couple of workmen near the back of the platform were fixing a tree in place. They took no notice of us as we walked up to the edge.
“It’s called the panorama—they just finished it a couple months ago,” Ranger explained. “The platform here stays in the same place, but the background moves. Just the opposite of a carousel.”
I couldn’t see the point. “What’s it for?”
“Shooting road scenes and chases. If you put an auto right here”—landing on the platform with a hop—“and a camera there”—pointing to the ground beside us—“you can shoot the car in place while the background rolls along behind it. So it looks like the car’s moving. Sennett used to shoot all his car chases on the real street, but he kept getting in trouble with the natives.”
“It’s delicious,” Sylvie said breathlessly, quite overwhelmed.
I was skeptical. “It’s too big to move.”
“Oh yeah? I’ve made it move by myself—that is, me and a bunch of the neighborhood kids. One night we snuck under the platform and lined up along one of the struts inside and started pushing. It takes a little muscle, but once you get it started… I’d show you now if I could, but I’ve got something important to do.”
He jumped off the platform. “Wait here.” With no more instruction than that, he ran around the curve of the panorama and disappeared.
“Well!” I exclaimed. “How do you like that?”
Sylvie seemed to like it fine. “He’s the wonderfulest boy I’ve ever met.”
We found a pair of orange crates to sit on and were debating that point a few minutes later when the wonderful boy reappeared in the company of an older fellow. The stranger appeared to be about fifteen or so, with a bony face and straight brown hair that might have been cut with a pair of garden shears. He carried a broom over one shoulder.
The two of them stopped about ten feet away from us. Dragging on a cigarette, the older boy looked me up and down with gray eyes as pale as dimes. It was the height of rudeness, which I was just about to mention when Ranger asked him, “Well?”
“Yep,” the other boy said. “Good eyes, good hair. Can she act?”
“Haven’t asked her yet.”
That did it for me. I jumped up and folded my arms and stamped my foot like an overtired child who’s been told she can’t have the last cookie. “What is this about? Tell me right now, or I’m leaving this instant and taking Sylvie with me, no matter where we end up.”
“She can act mad,” the stranger observed.
Ranger turned to me with eyes so animated that they could have jumped out of his head. “This is about art,” he told me, “and life, and truth and beauty too, if we can pull it off.” He paused for effect. And then: “How would you girls like to be in a picture?”
Praise for I Don’t Know How the Story Ends:
“The novel is packed with cameos by Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin…fascinating tidbits about the early days of film, and a relentless series of action scenes. Set dressing and quick pace aside, as narrated by Isobel, the story relies on—and delivers—solid characterization to drive it forward. Impressive on all fronts.” -Kirkus, starred review.
“I Don’t Know How the Story Ends will grab you by your shirt and drop you right into the early days of Hollywood and movie making.” - Karen Cushman, Newbery Award-winning author of The Midwife's Apprentice
“This book is a love letter to the art of storytelling.” Caroline Starr Rose, author of Blue Birds
“The electrifying setting of early Hollywood, along with the ever-relevant story of a young girl’s search for stability in an increasingly chaotic world, make this a winner…Industrious, creative, and resourceful young characters will charm readers interested in the life-changing magic of filmmaking.” –School Library Journal
“Cheaney (Somebody on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous) offers a zippy coming-of-age romp featuring cameos from film stars like Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford, as well as lovely descriptions of a blooming Hollywood...Readers will be absorbed as Cheaney’s characters embrace their creativity and find comfort through the art of film.” –Publishers Weekly
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The Advance Team
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few . . .” Luke 10:1-2a
This enterprise isn’t just for a hand-picked inner circle. Excitement is spreading through the ranks—he’s chosen a whole division to send out! Seventy-two, to be exact (though some manuscripts give the number as seventy, like the seventy elders chosen by Moses).
Who are these ambassadors? Young and unmarried, or older, with grown children? They are not even specified as men—could women have been among them? Not likely, but interesting to consider. Their mission is more specific than that given to the twelve: they are to go to the towns where Jesus himself is headed on his way to Jerusalem, as a kind of advance team: scout the places that will receive him, cross off the places that won’t, heal the sick, and announce the coming kingdom–which they can say, with authority, is near. Coming to your town!
They are so eager, pressing in to hear the instructions, exchanging glances with their journey-partners, clutching their travel bags (Oops! He just said not to take a bag—where can I ditch this?). Oh, the stories they’ll tell, the wonders they’ll do! Don’t you love being the bearer of news, whether good or not so good? This is that, in spades. This is news of the epoch, the fulfillment of the ages, and we are in on it.
Suddenly his voice turns stark and sends a chill down their backs:
“Woe to you Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! And you, Capernaum–”
What’s he saying? Those are towns that have seen his work—in fact Capernaum is where it all began. Bethsaida is where he set out to walk across the water, and where, on a hillside a few hours’ walk from its walls, he fed the 5000. Have these smug little Galilean towns grown blasé about it all, too casual perhaps, as though Jesus were their hometown boy who’s gotten a little above himself? If you listen carefully, his claims do sound rather extravagant: “Whoever rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” Meaning the Blessed One who is over all now and forever, amen. That seems to put Jesus on overly familiar terms with God Himself, but then, God doesn’t seem to object. So put that aside. With anticipation, with eagerness, with that thrill that is equal parts fear—
Here we go!
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven . . .” Luke 10:17-18
The troops return after their short-term mission trip, all bubbly with excitement. You could say they were successful; in fact, they’re jumpy as kids: Master, you won’t believe– Wait’ll you hear– And then we said– And the demon was like– and the people all– And all we had to do was drop your name . . . Like, wow!
He’s got to be smiling. Not at the news, because it’s not news to him. Of course the demons submitted to you. Of course they recognized my name. Satan and I go way back: I saw him fall from heaven, as sudden and bright as a lightning flash. He was doomed ages ago; don’t be afraid of him or his minions. They are like snakes and scorpions to trample underfoot (says the One who will soon be bruised on the head).
But that’s not the most important thing. That’s not what matters most. Don’t get a big head over ordering screaming demons around, because the only reason you can do that is because there’s a book in heaven that includes your names. My father has claimed you; you belong to Him, and any power he gives you is for his glory, not yours.
And that is reason enough for rejoicing—it’s the best. Throwing back his head and spreading his arms wide, he laughs. They are startled; he laughs even louder.
“This is so like you, King over all—to bypass the learned and the self-important, the posers and the dominators, and share your power with peasants. It’s like the prophets predicted, like my mother and old Simeon saw: sending away the rich, welcoming the poor, turning nobodies into somebodies, upsetting the apple art—it’s so like you! You’ve hidden your salvation from kings and shown it to shepherds on a hillside; withheld your Spirit from the learned and poured it out on the great unwashed. So it pleases you, Father, and so it pleases me.”
Turning to his disciples, who may have looked a little stunned at this outburst, he smiles again: a gentle, companionable, welcoming smile. “Do you know, have you any idea, how the prophets—Isaiah, Jonah, Elijah himself—longed to see this day? Open your eyes and ears: it’s here.”