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Arin Kambitsis
Unfortunate Floyd
Fourteen-year-old Floyd Piccolo is the unluckiest boy in the world. Whether contracting the Bubonic Plague on vacation or being struck by a meteorite blasting through the roof of a shopping mall, Floyd has a life that no other kid could possibly relate to. The only person who gets it is his friend Piers, a small, scientifically-minded boy who believes he can fix Floyd’s bad fortune with wild theories and experiments. There is hope, however, when he meets a girl named Peyton Flores, a new Brazilian-American girl who makes his heart skip a beat. But after she gets hurt in an accident he causes, she ends their friendship, breaking his heart. He becomes desperate to fix things. Piers suggests that Babalú-Ayé, the Brazilian saint of disease and misfortune, which Peyton taught him about, might be the source of Floyd’s problems. Floyd is skeptical until he receives a delirious vision on the saint’s feast day of a deliberately set fire at an upcoming school production. Since the boys have no proof, all they can do is try to stop this catastrophe themselves. But when Piers mysteriously vanishes, Floyd is sure it has something to do with the fire they were poking into. The arsonist is onto them. With time running out, and nobody willing to believe him, Floyd Piccolo, the walking disaster, is alone in stopping this mysterious culprit and saving the lives of innocent students and the girl he's in love with.

Quarter Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 10.00 out of 10


Plot: Floyd Piccolo, 14, is indeed unfortunate, and he’s anxious about starting high school, with good reason. On a trip to London he was the first person in a few hundred years to contract bubonic plague; his fast-food burgers tended to be season with bits of glass, and on his first day at his new school, the entire boys’ restroom collapsed when he flushed. Scientifically-inclined classmate Piers Pitstick posits hypotheses and conducts experiments intended to figure out – and stop --what’s going on with Floyd, all to no avail until they finally settles on the very unscientific premise that Floyd has been cursed by the Brazilian saint Babalú-Ayé, whose feast day is Floyd’s birthday, which is tomorrow….

Prose/Style: Kambitsis has an overly active sense of humor that he transforms into an understated narrative of hilarious happenings and observations. The vocabulary and sentence structure are synced to a YA audience’s comfort level, so youngsters will enjoy the story without having to stop and parse the meaning of the text.

Originality: This YA novel is a gem; it is a well-written, funny, highly inventive narrative with natural-sounding dialogue – all without the slightest hint of condescension or any noticeable didactic intent. Kids and adults alike will be engrossed in the story and gales of laughter will echo down middle-school hallways.

Character Development/Execution: Floyd has an identical twin brother, Lloyd, a raft of other sibs, parents who seem to take his multitude of misfortunes in stride, a good friend and a girl whose boyfriend he would like to be —all of whom are distinct, sympathetic, likable characters one would welcome as next-door neighbors. The other characters may be a little extreme in their thinking, or a little oblivious, but all are portrayed as unique individuals, and most are harmless.

Date Submitted: August 31, 2021