By: Hoot N. Holler

Most people have a favorite season and preferred time of year.  Some enjoy the colorful leaves of autumn while others long for the fluffy, white snow which accompanies winter.  For me, summer is the best time of year.  The arrival of summer is truly magical.  The days become longer and once dormant life explodes back into action.  Flowers bloom and green grass grows as the dull and dreary landscape is transformed into a rich and vibrant one.  Thoughts turn to leisure at the beach or even new and grand adventures which the season boldly offers.  Unless you are living in the mundane town of Boring, Maryland that is.  Nothing ever seems to happen in this aptly named community… until now!  For those younger readers who enjoy mysterious adventure stories which are full of fun and friendship- look no further!

Essentially, the tale revolves around the escapades of two, twelve-year old buddies, Sam and Rex.  We are introduced to the pair at the outset of the book as Sam prepares for a monotonous summer break.  Meanwhile, his much livelier friend tries to convince him otherwise.  Changing Sam’s mind about his hometown would usually be a monumental task- but when two very mysterious strangers arrive, things are about to change!  After the boys carefully observe the strangers they become convinced that they are up to no good, and quickly let their fellow townsfolk know this.  However, who is going to believe a pair of twelve-year old snotty nosed kids with too much time on their hands?  Convinced that they are indeed the town’s last hope, the boys concoct a plan to prove their claims and expose the criminals.  However, it is a scheme which is fraught with danger and could spell out disaster in more ways than one!

In my opinion, this is a perfect summer-time read for kids.  It is not only full of adventure and mystery, but it also explores such important concepts as friendship and loyalty.  It does so in a way which is light-hearted and fun as opposed to righteous and dull.  The dialogue is crisp, funny, and flows freely from one hilarious event to the next.  It also explores the notions of imagination and being able to make the most of your given situation.  To present such important themes in an entertaining and engaging fashion is critical when writing for a children’s audience.  The author obviously understands this point and illustrates such knowledge with apparent ease.  Reluctant readers and middle-aged children in particular will identify and fall in love with this story.

In regards to characters, the novel contains a number of interesting, quirky and lovable ones.  There is Mr. Patel, the warm hearted general store owner, Daisy Whoopsy, the clumsy and amusing letter carrier, and Rex’s spunky little sister Bonnie, to name a few.  Overall however, Sam and Rex are developed in the most depth and detail.  They both experience significant growth throughout the tale.  For instance, Sam comes a long way in actually accepting and appreciating what he has in life.  Rex on the other hand begins to transform from a goofy and careless boy into a more thoughtful one by the end.  Thoughtful…but definitely not boring!

Without a doubt, I found this to be an excellent book which will have considerable appeal with its intended reader base.  The plot is very strong, the dialogue is crisp, and the characters are unique and entertaining.  Everything that is needed for any great book- not only those intended for younger reading audiences.

5 out of 5 Adventurous Stars for this one!   *****