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  • Trouble with Lemons
  • Written by Daniel Hayes
  • Format: Paperback | ISBN: 9780449704165
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Trouble with Lemons

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His real name was Tyler McAllister, but he felt like a lemon. He had allergies and nightmares, and was the only unfamous person in his family. But one night he and a friend went swimming at the forbidden quarry, and Tyler found a dead body. Now he's determined to find out who killed the man and why they're now after him....
Daniel Hayes

About Daniel Hayes

Daniel Hayes - Trouble with Lemons
Daniel Hayes lives in Schaghticoke, New York, and teaches English at Troy High School. Eye of the Beholder is his second novel.
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Tyler McAllister needs a break. In the last few years he has been in and out of more allergy doctor offices than he can count, not to mention the fact that he has been plagued by nightmares ever since his father died. And if that weren't enough, his mother and brother are both fabulously successful movie stars who are often off on location for long periods of time. The last thing Tyler needs is to swim into a dead body on a midnight visit to the forbidden local quarry. But that is exactly what happens to him while there with his lumpish but faithful friend Lymie. To make matters worse, Lymie blames Tyler for talking him into sneaking out to the quarry that night in the first place.

Later that night, as Tyler sits huddled in a blanket in his room trying to get warm, he and Lymie try to decide what they should do. Tyler wants to call the rescue squad. Lymie tells him that they should call the sheriff, since you can't rescue someone who's already dead. Tyler, being new in town and less likely to have his voice recognized, makes the call. Lymie hangs up the phone after Tyler has given the basic information, fearing that Tyler will slip up and give names, thereby causing Lymie to be grounded for life. Tyler then remembers the car they'd seen from across the water and how it had peeled out just as the two of them had arrived at the quarry. This leads him to the chilling thought that the dead man might have been murdered. Lymie informs him that murders just don't occur in places like Wakefield. After speculating about who the guy might have been for awhile, they decide to go to bed, figuring the police will have the whole thing figured out by the time they wake up.

That night, Tyler dreams about the dead man. Mixed in with the dream are images of the trouble he's had in the past and the disappointment he'd been to his recently deceased father.

After lunch the next day, Tyler and Lymie head for Buster's game room to pick up what news they can. They learn that practically the whole town is out at the quarry, where the state troopers are searching the water.

As much as Tyler dreads it, he knows that if he ever expects to stop having the bad dreams, he has to go there too and find out about the body that he found there.

A large crowd is milling about the quarry as Tyler and Lymie arrive with Buster in his old Cadillac. Following Buster as he plows through the crowd, the boys reach the edge of the quarry, where they see a trooper in a rowboat and two divers in the water. He also sees some men trying to comfort a large woman who believes it's her son in the water. Tyler is reminded of how he felt when he lost his father, and knows there is nothing anybody can do to make the woman feel any better. He feels terrible when the body is found and turns out to be the woman's son, BooBoo Anderson, a custodian at the school.

Back at school on Monday, Tyler talks to Mary Grace Madigan, who helps organize his books and offers to help him learn the ropes around his new school. For Tyler, schools have always been a mystery, new or otherwise, and he doesn't see that changing anytime soon. After school, they walk home together and, knowing she'd understand, Tyler wishes he could tell her he was one of the kids who found BooBoo Anderson.

On Tuesday, despite Lymie's warnings, Tyler angers the class bully, Beaver Bruckman. Beaver waits for Tyler after school and beats him up so badly he wets his pants. Chuckie, the Tyler family's groundskeeper, arrives and drives him home. Embarrassed by his wet pants, Tyler refuses to get out of the car in front of two neighbor ladies. Chuckie pulls him out of the car and holds him over the sprinklers as Tyler tries to punch his way free. Soon Tyler catches on, realizing that his pants are no longer any wetter than the rest of him. This marks the beginning of a close friendship between the two.

Chuckie takes Tyler to an appointment with his allergy doctor. On the way home, Chuckie informs Tyler that the police have found chlorine in BooBoo Anderson's lungs, which means he didn't die in the quarry, but was put there after he died.

Tyler's troubles continue to escalate. The next day, due to the allergy medication, Tyler falls asleep in science class and gets sent to the office to see the principal, Mr. Blumberg. After school in a room off the office, Tyler overhears the principal's son, Mark Blumberg telling his friend Jack that no one even suspects they were the ones who dumped BooBoo's body into the quarry. Upon seeing Tyler their jaws drop, and Tyler fears for his life. When Mark and Jack pull up next to him on his way home and Jack opens the car door and tells him to get in, Tyler sprints through a backyard in his panic to escape them and upon arriving home practically barricades himself in his house. To make matters worse, Chuckie is away picking up something for Tyler's mother.

That night, Tyler goes to Mary Grace Madigan's house, feeling he has to tell someone what he knows about Mark and Jack- - someone besides Lymie who still thinks everything will be all right if he just keeps his mouth shut. Mary Grace listens, not only to the story of the boys finding the body, but to all the difficulties Tyler has had over the last few years. She listens and seems to understand. She tells Tyler that as bad as Mark can be, she doesn't think he's a killer, and there must be some other explanation about what happened to BooBoo Anderson.

The next day, Mrs. Saunders and Tyler meet with Mr. Blumberg to discuss Tyler's habit of falling asleep in class. During the conference, Mr. Blumberg implies that if Tyler's mother took the job of raising her son more seriously, instead of running off to pursue her career goals, Tyler might not be having the problems he's having. Tyler loses his temper and tells Mr. Blumberg that it's his son who is responsible for the death of BooBoo Anderson, and then, realizing how ridiculous he sounds, even to Mrs. Saunders, he storms out of the school. Not knowing where to go, he wanders back to the rock quarry to think.

Chuckie finds Tyler and brings him home. Tyler learns that Chuckie knows a lot about him from having worked with Tyler's mother fixing up the house the previous spring. He also learns that Chuckie knows about the boys finding the body, and thinks that now at least Chuckie will believe him about Mark Blumberg. Chuckie suggests that guilt, especially on the part of Mark's friend Jack, might force him to confess, but warns Tyler to stay low for a while, just in case.

Tyler, Lymie and Mary Grace come up with a plan to get Jack to confess. At first, Tyler fears for his safety, but Jack tells him the story of the accidental death of BooBoo Anderson in the school pool, and then goes to the police station to turn himself in.

Tyler can't believe how bad he feels for Jack. The bad guys have been caught, and he should feel happy, but he knows Jack isn't really bad, or Mark either for that matter. They are just people, Tyler realizes, struggling to get by, the same way he is.

Later, Tyler's mother, who has come home wanting to surprise him for his birthday, finds him asleep on a park bench in front of the police station. Tyler, hardly believing she's really there, fills her in a little on what he's been up to and about how bad he really feels about Jack and Booboo and all that's happened. Then it's time to go home where, his mother hints, his brother is already waiting to begin celebrating Tyler's 13th birthday. Who knows, Tyler thinks. Thirteen just might turn out to be a good year for lemons.


About the Author

Daniel Hayes was born in 1952 and is the author of four novels for young adults: The Trouble With Lemons (an American Library Association Best Book For Young Adults and an International Reading Association Young Adult's Choice), Eye of the Beholder, No Effect (an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults), and Flyers. An English teacher at Troy High School, he lives in Schaghticoke, NY.


Reacting to Literature

Select one of the choices below and write a well organized essay on it.

Character Biography

Write a biography on one of the characters from The Trouble With Lemons. Keep in mind what you have read about them. Be imaginative but realistic. Predict a possible future for your character.

Friendship Study

The characters in this story endure many things in their quest for happiness. State why you would (or would not) like to have a friend like Tyler.


Compare Tyler's life with your life. Write about your responsibilities at home and school and Tyler's responsibilities. Are there any similarities? What are the differences?


Tyler had to deal with a variety of feelings in this story. Describe the biggest crisis you've experienced and how you handled the difficulties.

2. "...sometimes a person will do something for you, some little act of kindness or whatever, and it's one of those things you'll never forget for the rest of your life, no matter what."

Recall an act of kindness someone did for you and write an essay describing it and the effect it had on you.

3. Throughout The Trouble With Lemons, Tyler is faced with difficult decisions, and at different points considers calling the police, his brother Chris, and even Lymie to get advice.

If, or when you face difficult decisions, whom do you trust for advice? Write a short essay telling why you would go to this particular person for advice.

4. Consider the qualities you look for in a best friend. Then create a classified ad describing the type of person you would like to have for a best friend.

5. Imagine you write an advice column and make suggestions to Tyler or Lymie which will help them to make the right decisions when problems arise.

6. Write a letter to a character in the book, the author, or someone relevant to the story. Describe three questions you would like to have answered by this person.


Creative Projects

1. The Trouble With Lemons
is a story told from Tyler's point of view. Retell the events that took place in Chapter One (the evening visit to the quarry) from Lymie's point of view. Without changing the facts of the story, show how Lymie's telling of the story might be different from Tyler's.

2. Pretend you are a newspaper reporter. Write a news article on the mysterious death of BooBoo Anderson. You should include information pertaining to the victim, location of the body, autopsy report, anonymous phone call, police investigation, and any possible theories about who may,have committed the crime. Keep in mind the five W's of good reporting: Who, what, where, when and why.

3. You are going to produce a movie based on The Trouble With Lemons. You need to cast a star for each of the following characters:

·Tyler McAllister
·Lymie Lawrence
·Mary Grace Madigan
·Chuckie Deegan
·Mrs. Saunders
·Mark Blumberg
·Jack Robbins
·Mr. Blumberg
·Linda Lamar (Tyler's mom)

After each actress/actor you choose, tell what character traits each character (above) has and why you chose that particular star to play that character.

*** For extra credit draw a movie poster for your upcoming film.

4. You are going to develop a soundtrack to go along with the novel. On a regular cassette tape, your soundtrack should include a theme song for the beginning and the end of the novel and a song for five of the following events:

·Tyler finds BooBoo's body
·Tyler and Beaver fight
·Chuckie and Tyler share humiliating stories
·Tyler falls asleep in class
·Mark and Jack chase Tyler
·Tyler blows up at Mr. Blumberg
·Lymie, Mary Grace and Tyler hang pool party signs
·Jack tells Tyler what happened to BooBoo
·Tyler's mom finds him on the park bench

Explain why each song fits that particular scene.

5. Design a book cover for The Trouble With Lemons. Be sure to include the title, author, and an artistic illustration.

6. Many issues are left to the imagination at the end of The Trouble With Lemons. Write Chapter 23 of the novel where you begin to tie up some of these questions. What do you think happens to Tyler? Does his mother come home to stay? And what happens to Mark and Jack? Use your imagination and have some fun.

Group Activities

Create a mobile that shows various events from the story. The mobile should be artistic and colorful.

2. Make a large time line of events from the book. This should also be colorful and detailed.

3. Do a poll of fellow students about their "dream parents." Determine percentages and construct a colorful chart or graph that reveals your results.

4. Put together a creative display of the story. You may use a diorama, music, or artifacts. Include a short narrative to explain your display.

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