When Zachary Beaver Came to Town


"Nothing ever happens in Antler, TX."

Toby Wilson is having the toughest summer of his life. It's the summer his mother leaves for good. The summer his best friend's brother is serving in Vietnam. And the summer Zachary Beaver, the fattest boy in the world, arrives in Toby's sleepy Texas town.
While it's a summer filled with heartache, it's also a summer of new friendships gained and old friendships renewed. And it's Zachary Beaver who turns the town of Antler upside down and leaves everyone, especially Toby, changed forever.
With understated elegance, Kimberly Willis Holt tells an honest coming-of-age story about a thirteen-year-old boy struggling to find himself in an imperfect world. At turns passionate and humorous, this extraordinary novel deals sensitively and candidly with obesity, war, and the true power of friendship.


At thirteen, I went to the Louisiana State Fair and paid two dollars to see the "Fattest Teenage-Boy in the World." Those few moments in his side show trailer became the seeds for When Zachary Beaver Came to Town.

Claude Courthouse - inspiration for Antler setting

Claude Courthouse - inspiration for Antler setting


"Put bluntly, this book packs more emotional power than 90% of the so-called grown-up novels taking up precious space on bookshelves around the country."
-USA Today

"Holt may not take her readers on wild flights of fantasy, but her quiet novel offers a slice of life that's hard to resist."
-The New York Times Book Review

"Holt reinvents the coming of age story"
-Kirkus Reviews