On the first day of vacation, when rising sixth-grader Hunter Moran intercepts a phone call he interprets as a bomb plot, he sets out with his twin brother, Zack, to save the town of Newfield.
With imaginations fueled by TV shows, Hunter and Zack weave various bits of evidence into an elaborate hypothesis about the nefarious activities of the dentist down the street. As middle children in a large, active family, their investigations are hampered by the watchful eyes of an older brother and sister and the constant attention of their tag-along 5-year-old brother, Steadman. Hunter’s brash first-person voice is convincing. He’s barely aware of the improbable trail of destruction he and his brothers leave behind. In the four days leading up to the Tinwitty Night celebration, they find themselves stranded next door on the slate roof of St. Ursula’s church, covered with the contents of Vinny Moochmore’s compost pile and trapped inside the great iron soup kettle in the town center. All this occurs before Hunter’s climactic balloon ride. Cell phones and laptops are part of their modern world, but the children’s freedom to investigate the mystery of Dr. Diglio’s buried box is reminiscent of earlier, less-supervised times and traditional small-town life.
The boys’ exaggerated escapades make for an appealing read-aloud as well as a successful summer read. (Fiction. 9-12)