Also Known as Rowan Pohi

Also Known as Rowan Pohi

by Ralph Fletcher

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Overview

“A funny and poignant tale. . . . Fletcher’s novel will resonate with fans of Chris Crutcher and Todd Strasser.” –VOYA

In this unsettling, entertaining young adult novel, Ralph Fletcher tells the story of Bobby Steele and his pals, three guys waiting for tenth grade to begin. Out of their boredom, the imaginary Rowan Pohi (that’s IHOP backwards) is born. Bobby applies to the prestigious private school Whitestone Prep in Rowan’s name, and, amazingly, he’s accepted. Eager to escape his public school and his unhappiness at home, Bobby becomes Rowan, hoping the two lives he’s living will stay separate forever. For a short, exhilarating time, they do.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547851549
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 02/12/2013
Pages: 199
Sales rank: 744,068
Product dimensions: 5.66(w) x 8.08(h) x 0.56(d)
Lexile: HL590L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author


Ralph Fletcher is the versatile author of 30-some books, including (for young readers) novels, picture book texts, poetry, and books about writing, as well as books for writing teachers. Recipient of a master's degree in fiction from Columbia University, he worked in New York City classrooms for the Teachers College Writing Project, designed to help teachers develop better ways of teaching writing. He travels widely to teach writing and talk about his work. Mr. Fletcher lives in Durham, NH, with his wife and four sons. His website is www.ralphfletcher.com.

Read an Excerpt

One

It was big poobs who first suggested the idea. we were at the International House of Pancakes: Poobs, Marcus, and me. The tables at the IHOP are sometimes sticky with syrup, but it’s the only place around where a kid can order a coffee or soda and nobody complains if he wants to hang out for an hour or two.

The booths were crowded, mostly with Whitestone Prep kids. Stonys, we called them. Even without their green uniform shirts, they were obviously Stonys. They were the ones with braces and designer jeans. The ones with new backpacks. The ones talking about “wild times” at summer music camp in places like Tanglewood or Chautauqua.

 Five Stony girls were jammed into the booth next to us. The tallest girl was blond and cute; very. They were talking about college. I heard her say something about coed dorms, which made the other girls giggle.

 Marcus spun his fork like he was playing spin-the-bottle, except there was no girl in his near future, and no college either. After (more like if) he graduated from Riverview High, he was joining the Marines.

 The three of us leaned back in our seats. We were beyond bored.

 Big Poobs sighed. “Let’s do something.”

 Poobs was a straight-C student, except for the occasional D. There was no college in his plans either, but he didn’t need it any more than Marcus did. His parents owned Vinny’s, a popular local Italian restaurant. Big Poobs worked busing tables there. In a year he would be a waiter; eventually he would own the restaurant himself.

 My grades were actually good, but with Mom gone for over a year now, and no sign of her coming back, I couldn’t picture myself waltzing off to the University of Whatever after high school. I figured I should stick around for my little brother, Cody, at least for a few more years.

 When the Whitestone girls got up to pay their check, they left behind a piece of paper on the table. I reached over and picked it up.

 “What is it?” Marcus asked.

 “Looks like an application to Whitestone. Hey, why don’t you apply, Marcus?”

 “Why don’t you eat my shorts?” he calmly replied.

 It was mid-August and hot. One good thing about the IHOP: they really cranked up the AC. We had a booth by the window with a view of the street. The cars turning left onto Main Street got blasted by midmorning sun. The drivers all reacted by dropping their sun visors.

 “Look: they all do the same thing when they turn,” I said. “They all reach up for their sun visors. What are they, programmed like robots? I swear, people are sheep.”

 Marcus added more sugar to his coffee. “Baa.”

 That’s when it happened. Big Poobs, who to my recollection had never had one truly original idea in his life, spoke up.

 “We should do it,” he said. “Try to get accepted at Whitestone Prep.”

 “You, get accepted at Whitestone?” Marcus snorted. “Last time you saw an A or a B, it was in your alphabet soup, genius boy.”

 Big Poobs shook his head. “Not us. Somebody else. We could, like, invent somebody. A real smart kid. Like, bionic.”

 I stared at Marcus. “Bionic?”

 “Yes!” Poobs was grinning like a jack-o’lantern. “We can help him apply to Whitestone, see if he gets accepted.”

 Marcus shook his head. “That’s stupid.”

 At that moment Darla, the waitress, approached the table. “More coffee, boys?”

 “No,” I told her. “Wait; yes.”

 Darla peered at me suspiciously but refilled my mug. After she left, I pointed at Big Poobs.

 “You are a genius,” I told him.

 Poobs blinked. “I am?”

 I smacked a fist into the palm of my hand.

 “Let’s do it!” I whispered. “Let’s create somebody! Then we’ll take that somebody and get him accepted to Whitestone!”

 Marcus hesitated. “Create somebody?”

 “Yeah, how hard could it be?” I said, studying the application. It was surprisingly short, a single page, front and back. “first thing we need is a name.”

 “Austin? Brady?” Marcus said.

 I shook my head. “Those sound like little-boy names. How about Owen?”

 “Or Rowan,” Poobs suggested.

 “Rowan.” We repeated the name, turning it over on our tongues.

 “Sounds like a warrior,” Marcus mused. “I like it.”

 “Me too.” Carefully, I printed the letters on the application. “Rowan what?”
 For some reason that simple question stumped us, almost derailed the project right there and then. Marcus and Poobs threw out some last names—Smith, Johnson, White, Hoffman—but they all sounded lame.

 I glanced at the glass window where the letters IHOP were stenciled. From where we were sitting, inside the restaurant, the letters appeared in reverse: POHI.

 “POHI,” I stated. “That’s IHOP backwards. His name is Rowan Pohi.”

 Big Poobs thumped the table with his big soft hands. “Rowan Pohi!” He pronounced it like I did: Pohi.

 “Rowan should have a middle name, shouldn’t he?” Marcus said. “How about Ian? Rowan Ian Pohi.”

 “Bingo.” I nodded.

 “We’re in business, baby!” Poobs exclaimed. In his excitement he knocked over the syrup dispenser, causing some syrup to dribble onto the bottom of the application.

 “You idiot!” I snapped. “This has to be handed in!”

 “Sorry,” Poobs muttered.

 I wet a napkin and carefully wiped away the liquid. I did manage to get it off, though it left a faint stain on the paper.

 “That will have to do, I guess.” I looked at the application. “Sex?”

 Marcus laughed. “Obviously!”

 I marked the box for Male.

 “They want to know where he went to school last year.” I drummed the table, thinking hard. “If we say Riverview, we’re screwed. If they check for Rowan’s name, they’ll find nothing and realize that the application is bogus. We better pick someplace far away.”

 “My mom used to live in a tiny town in Arizona,” Marcus put in.

 “Yeah?” I looked at him. “Got a name?”

 “Piñon,” he said. “I went there once. It’s really the boonies. Indian country. No green anywhere. Nothing but desert, scorpions, cactuses.”

 “Cacti,” Poobs corrected him.

 I wrote it down. “Rowan went to Piñon High School . . . home of the Stingin’ Scorpions.”

 Poobs rubbed his hands together. “Oh yeah!”

 “What’s Rowan like?” I said. “We’re gonna have to know him real good if we’ve got any shot at getting him into a school like Whitestone.”

 “He’s a dweeb, like you,” Marcus replied.

 “I’m serious, numb-nuts.”

 “Remember Terry Lernihan?” Marcus said.

 I nodded. “He moved after fifth grade.”

 “Lernihan didn’t say jack,” Marcus remembered. “I hardly ever heard him speak in class. Then one day he comes into school with that refracting telescope he made himself. Took first place in the science fair.”

 I just looked at him. “And your point is . . .”

 “That’s what Rowan’s like,” Marcus continued. “Maybe the dude doesn’t say much, but he’s smart as hell. A doer, not a talker.”

 Big Poobs smiled. “Yeah.”

 “That’s a start,” I said. “Clubs and activities?”

 “Boy Scouts,” Marcus suggested. “Definitely put that in. Oh, and National Honor Society.”

 I nodded. “How about sports?”

 “Football!” Big Poobs exclaimed.

 “Yesss!”

 Football was a very sore subject at Riverview High. It got cut out of the budget last year, along with a bunch of other stuff, so we didn’t have a football team anymore. Kids were still pissed off about it. Whitestone Prep had a strong football team; they traveled all around the East Coast to play other private schools. Their school had just added two new turf football fields.

 “How about extracurricular activities?” I said.

 “Volunteers at soup kitchen.”

 “Hey, let’s not make him into kind some of saint,” Poobs warned.

 Marcus grinned. “Why not?”

 “Sounds good to me,” I agreed, and jotted that down.

 “Hobbies?”

 “Mr. Pohi loves to cook,” Poobs suggested with a giggle. “Especially pancakes.”

 “Are you really that stupid?” I demanded. “That would give it away!”

 Poobs sucked his thumb, baby-style. “Sowwy.”

 “Hey, I skipped this part,” I said. “Academics. They want to see Rowan’s grades from his old school. We’ve got to tell them something. Rowan’s a good student, right?”

 “Damn good!” Big Poobs agreed.

 “What’s his grade point average?” I asked. “He has to be smart enough to get into a school like Whitestone.”

 “Four point oh,” Poobs declared. “We’re talking genius material.”

 I shook my head. “Let’s not get greedy. How about three point six?”

 “Yeah, that sounds more realistic,” Marcus put in.

 My eyes snagged on something I hadn’t noticed before, a box on the lower-right-hand corner of the page. Letter of Recommendation.

 “Uh-oh,” I muttered.

 “What?”

 “It says he has to send in at least one letter of recommendation.” I read out loud: “ ‘Letter should come from an adult within the school community who has personal knowledge of the applicant—a teacher, coach, or administrator.’ ”

 We stared at each other.

 Marcus shrugged. “We’ll have to fake one.”

 “Sign somebody else’s name?” Big Poobs looked worried. “Isn’t that forgery?”

 “We’re just goofing,” Marcus told him. “Besides, there’s no way anybody’s gonna trace it back to us.”

 I gave Marcus a straight look. “Can you do it?”

 He smiled. “Sure. Piece o’ cake. I’ll write a recommendation from his football coach, Ramón García.”

 Marcus’s sudden Spanish accent made Big Poobs snort 
with laughter.

 “You’ll have to make up some fake letterhead to write it on,” I told Marcus.

 He nodded. “Can do. Piñon High School. Home of the Rattlesnakes.”

 “Home of the Scorpions!” I hissed. “Jeez!”

 Marcus smiled lazily. “Scorpions, rattlesnakes . . . what’s the diff?”

 “There’s a huge diff!”

 “You can’t mail it from here,” Big Poobs pointed out. “They put the name of the town on the postmark. So the letter has to be mailed from Piñon, Arizona. If it’s from around here, they’re going to smell a rat.”

 “No worries,” Marcus said. “My cousin Devon lives out there. I’ll write the letter, put it in an envelope, send it to Devon, and have him mail it from there.”

 “You’re good at this,” I told Marcus. “A little too good.”

 He bowed. “Thank you very much.”

 “They want a local mailing address,” I said with a shrug. “I’ll just use mine.”

 “So is that it?” Poobs asked eagerly. “Is the application finished?”

 “Almost,” I told him. On the last line there was a space to sign, which I did now—Rowan I. Pohi—with a flourish and a bold dot above the final i. “Done!”

 Poobs’s face turned serious. “Do you really think we can get him into Whitestone?”

 “You better believe it.” Marcus theatrically raised his head and began speaking in a mock-solemn tone. “All his life Rowan Pohi has dreamed of going to Whitestone Prep. I ask you: Would you deny this fine young man the chance to make something out of his life? Would you?”

 “Nope.”

 “Nope.”

 “Nope.”

 “I count one nope and two dopes,” I declared.

 I expected Marcus to belt my arm, so when he did I was ready for it. I didn’t even flinch.
 

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Hearts will go out to Bobby as he learns that being true to himself is as important as realizing his dreams."-Publishers Weekly  "Bobby's family and home life are authentically depicted, and teens will respond to Bobby's desire to create a path to his dreams and root for his crazy idea to work."—Booklist

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Also Known as Rowan Pohi 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
OtotheD More than 1 year ago
Rowan Pohi isn't real. He's just a boy from Arizona concocted by Bobby Steele and his friends Marcus and Big Poobs one day while they are sitting in Ihop. Bored and needing a little excitement, Bobby and his friends fill out an application for admission to the prestigious Whitestone Academy. Rowan gets good grades, plays football and helps those less fortunate; the perfect candidate for Whitestone. When Rowan receives an acceptance letter, Bobby, Marcus and Poobs can hardly believe it. The joke should end there, but when Bobby meets a cute girl from Whitestone and tells her his name is Rowan Pohi, he sets off a chain of events that gets him in deeper than he is comfortable with. Bobby knows the charade won't last long, but he can't stop. Rowan's life is so much better than his own. The pristine halls of Whitestone are so much better than Bobby's old high school, and there are so many more opportunities for him here, but how can he go on living a life that isn't really his? I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Mr. Fletcher has crafted an enjoyable story filled with characters so distinct they practically crawl out of the pages. Bobby is especially sympathetic, and I wanted nothing but the best for him. I really wanted him to succeed and find a better life. The writing is effortless, the voice distinct and though at times I was afraid there would be too many loopholes for the plot to be plausible, Mr. Fletcher covered them all with believable outcomes. This is a quick and easy read (I read it in about two hours), and one I would highly recommend. (Review based on an advanced reader's copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley)
KidLitWriter More than 1 year ago
Bobbie Steele and his two best buddies, Marcus and Big Poobs, spend a good amount of time talking up things the way teen boys do when in a group. Whenever a Whitestone Academy student enters IHOP, the boys comment on the snobby "Stonys" and their designer jeans, school uniform and preppy manner. It is obvious they are jealous of the other kids' affluence and opportunities. Board, they joke that the three of them could get an imaginary guy into Whitestone, if they really wanted to. As happens with those types of "jokes," it became a challenge. Soon an application was mailed on behalf of transfer student, Rowan Pohi. Rowan is accepted. Bobbie decides to become Rowan and, without telling anyone, he starts tenth grade as a "Stoney." I liked the story. The humor is at times juvenile, which means right on target for a teen boy. The author remembers high school well. Bobbie tries to lead this double life and gets away with it by a narrow margin. I wanted the guy to succeed and not go back to the dumpy public school he hates. He takes many risks, especially in not telling his buddies. At Riverview High, Bobbie is marked absent day after day, while at Whitestone Rowan is learning the ropes and becoming popular. Once Bobbie takes Rowan's place at Whitestone the other two guys, Big Poobs and Marcus, get sidelined through most of the story. Having these two guys in on the fun would have livened up the story, not that it is not lively without them. Bobbie has a complicated life and it is fun to read how he gets into and then, maybe, out of, the trouble. This close to the new school year is a good time to read Also Known as Rowan Pohi. Maybe while at an IHOP? Note: received from netgalley, courtesy of the publisher.
booktwirps on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rowan Pohi isn¿t real. He¿s just a boy from Arizona concocted by Bobby Steele and his friends Marcus and Big Poobs one day while they are sitting in Ihop. Bored and needing a little excitement, Bobby and his friends fill out an application for admission to the prestigious Whitestone Academy. Rowan gets good grades, plays football and helps those less fortunate; the perfect candidate for Whitestone. When Rowan receives an acceptance letter, Bobby, Marcus and Poobs can hardly believe it. The joke should end there, but when Bobby meets a cute girl from Whitestone and tells her his name is Rowan Pohi, he sets off a chain of events that gets him in deeper than he is comfortable with. Bobby knows the charade won¿t last long, but he can¿t stop. Rowan¿s life is so much better than his own. The pristine halls of Whitestone are so much better than Bobby¿s old high school, and there are so many more opportunities for him here, but how can he go on living a life that isn¿t really his?I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Mr. Fletcher has crafted an enjoyable story filled with characters so distinct they practically crawl out of the pages. Bobby is especially sympathetic, and I wanted nothing but the best for him. I really wanted him to succeed and find a better life. The writing is effortless, the voice distinct and though at times I was afraid there would be too many loopholes for the plot to be plausible, Mr. Fletcher covered them all with believable outcomes. This is a quick and easy read (I read it in about two hours), and one I would highly recommend.(Review based on an advanced reader¿s copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley)
eenerd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting quick read about teen Bobby Steele, who with his friends create a made up guy (Rowan Pohi) to apply to the exclusive private school in their part of town. To their amazement, Rowan is accepted to the school, and they decide the joke has gone far enough and to put Rowan to rest. That is until Bobby--distraught over his mother's abandonment of himself and his 5 year old brother, Cody, and afraid of his recovering alcoholic/domestic abuser father--dons the persona after a chance encounter with a beautiful female student at the academy. Throughout the story we see how Bobby/Rowan struggles with his dual life, his responsibilities as a student /brother/athlete and his want to make things better for himself and his little brother. A lot of issues going on here, and a really interesting take on responsibility, honesty, friendship and second chances.
smmorris on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bobbie Steele and his two best buddies, Marcus and Big Poobs, spend a good amount of time talking up things the way teen boys do when in a group. Whenever a Whitestone Academy student enters IHOP, the boys comment on the snobby ¿Stonys¿ and their designer jeans, school uniform and preppy manner. It is obvious they are jealous of the other kids¿ affluence and opportunities. Board, they joke that the three of them could get an imaginary guy into Whitestone, if they really wanted to. As happens with those types of ¿jokes,¿ it became a challenge. Soon an application was mailed on behalf of transfer student, Rowan Pohi. Rowan is accepted. Bobbie decides to become Rowan and, without telling anyone, he starts tenth grade as a ¿Stoney.¿I liked the story. The humor is at times juvenile, which means right on target for a teen boy. The author remembers high school well. Bobbie tries to lead this double life and gets away with it by a narrow margin. I wanted the guy to succeed and not go back to the dumpy public school he hates. He takes many risks, especially in not telling his buddies. At Riverview High, Bobbie is marked absent day after day, while at Whitestone Rowan is learning the ropes and becoming popular. Once Bobbie takes Rowan¿s place at Whitestone the other two guys, Big Poobs and Marcus, get sidelined through most of the story. Having these two guys in on the fun would have livened up the story, not that it is not lively without them. Bobbie has a complicated life and it is fun to read how he gets into and then, maybe, out of, the trouble. This close to the new school year is a good time to read Also Known as Rowan Pohi. Maybe while at an IHOP?Note: received from netgalley, courtesy of the publisher.
Perednia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In one memorable M*A*S*H episode, Hawkeye and the crew invented Captain John Tuttle, a remarkable man who had to ¿die¿ when a real officer wanted to honor him. Ralph Fletcher uses the same premise to explore how a teenage boy comes to terms with himself and his name in Also Known as Rowan Pohi.Bobby Steele doesn't have the best life around ¿ his mom left after his father did a horrific thing to her. Bobby's sophomore year is about to start, he has a younger brother starting kindergarten to watch out for, his father goes to AA meetings and work and that's about it. Bobby also has the burden of having the same name as his father, the name splashed across the local news.One afternoon at IHOP, the snooty kids at a nearby booth leave an application for the esteemed private school they'll be attending. Whitestone has a new multi-million dollar planetarium; Bobby's high school can't afford to have the parking lot refinished. As a lark, the boys fill out the application. Rowan's last name is the name of the restaurant backwards. He's a go-getter from the extremely poor town of Pinon, New Mexico.Rowan, of course, is accepted to Whitestone. The guys know they'll never be able to come up with transcripts and a Social Security number, so their invention dies after a sudden illness. They bury the acceptance letter and go on with their real lives. Circumstances compel Bobby to dig up the papers and go to new student orientation at Whitestone.For a short novel (199 pages), there's a lot going on. The ways Fletcher invents for Bobby to stay at the school are creative and fun to read. His encounters with the students there, which are a cross-section of realistic types, are fairly realistic. A subplot with Bobby's old friends is not developed.Bobby's younger brother, Cody, has an obsession with pretending he is a cliché of a Native American, replete with feather, that isn't explored fully. It's also uncomfortable when this young child, obsessed with fake Indian artifacts, shoplifts, and the aftermath of that episode is used for Bobby's story but not for Cody's story. There is another short attempt to connect with a fictional Native American when Bobby compares one of his friends to Chief Broom in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest which will fly right over the heads of young readers who have no connection to the book or film. (Iconoclast alert: Fletcher, who has published several ¿how-to¿ writing books for students, also slams To Kill a Mockingbird.) Fletcher does connect Bobby's father to Bobby's story in true Hollywood fashion but in this case, it's fairly successful.On a superficial level, there is much in this book to enjoy. It does have the bare bones of what could have been an even deeper story.
delphica on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was ok, a teenager makes up a fake identity, first as a joke to see if the pretend teen will be admitted to a posh private school, and then he decides to actually attend the school using this fabricated persona.This was one of those weird books for me where I felt I could see a lot of points that the author was trying to make, but in almost every case, it didn't quite pan out. This felt like 80% of a book. Not in terms of length, but certain ideas would be introduced, and then they wouldn't completely come around to a good conclusion.There was also a lot of page time devoted to the idea that Rowan Pohi, the alias, took on the role of a real person, or at least a separate unreal person, in the mind of Bobby, the protagonist. I think this could have been very interesting -- but nothing ever happened that showed how the Rowan character was different or independent from Bobby. SHOW YOUR WORK, I wanted to say! Overall, that was my impression -- some interesting ideas, but the author needed to put them into play in the plot for them to be satisfying
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Go to the next result
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im here