The newest tenants of “The Harmony Arms” are fourteen year old Gabriel McKay, his father Sumner, Timmy the Otter (a hand puppet), and a suitcase named Roger. Having just arrived from Bradleyville, Missouri, this unhappy quartet are greeted by a group of seemingly odd characters with whom Sumner fits in, and Gabriel finds just as odd as the father he is reluctantly traveling with. Sumner, who uses Timmy as an outlet for the stresses of life, is in Los Angeles as a consultant for a movie about Timmy, the character of his children’s book. Gabriel, who chose “between hot beets and cold beets” (Koertge, 1992, p. 8) by making this trip with his father, knows things aren’t going to be any different here than they were back home.
By: Ron Koertge