What preteen boy wouldn’t love to build a fort in the woods?
DeFelice makes that dream come true. Wyatt, on summer vacation in upstate New York with his dad, and Augie, who lives there all year round with his grandmother, hatch a plan to build a fort in the woods. Augie’s deftly depicted great-uncle and his junkyard buddy provide the necessary materials. Augie’s pillowy-bosomed—a trait Wyatt hilariously can’t help but notice—great-aunt gives them food. Wyatt’s dad offers him the freedom to explore and grow. Augie, something of a modern-day Huckleberry Finn, has ample talent as a woodsman. The very real threat from bullies J.R. and Morrie, and their abuse of mentally disabled Gerard, a good-natured neighborhood kid, provide the impetus for Operation Doom. That plan to defend the fort and protect Gerard (and even provide some justice) leads to a glorious, feel-good climax in which all the right things work out and the bad guys get their richly deserved comeuppance. Along the way, some squirrels are sacrificed by slingshot to provide good meals, and a car-parts calendar that includes photos of attractive young women adds realistic detail, both serving to enhance the authenticity of this captivating tale.
Upbeat, engaging and satisfying; altogether a very fine book, especially for boys looking for a bit of believable, achievable adventure. (Fiction. 9-14)