I Don’t Know How the Story Ends

By J.B. Cheaney

October 6, 2015; Hardcover ISBN 9781492609445

Book Info:

Title: I Don’t Know How the Story Ends

Author: J.B. Cheaney

Release Date; October 6, 2015

Publishers: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

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


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.

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24827936-i-don-t-know-how-the-story-ends

Buy Links:

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About the Author:

J. B. Cheaney was born in Dallas, Texas, sometime in the last century. In school her favorite subject was making up parts for herself in imaginary movies and plays. Too bad they don’t give grades for that. Fortunately, her second-favorite subject was history. All that daydreaming and history-loving finally paid off with five published novels, the latest of which is Somebody on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous. She has won numerous awards for her children’s books: : Booklist TopTen Best YA by debut authors, NYPL’s Best Books for Teens; Texas Bluebonnet nominee, the Florida Sunshine State Young Readers award, the Indiana Young Hoosier list, and a Kansas Notable Book. She lives and daydreams in Missouri with her husband.

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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?”


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