In this fast-moving middle-grade novel, a tomboy spends her summer working for a witchy woman, searching for treasure in an old house and trying to track down her missing bicycle, all while making new friends and learning valuable lessons.
Eleven-year-old Pam lives in the seaside town of Cape May, New Jersey, in her parents’ restored Victorian inn. Never one to sit still or stay indoors, she prefers bikes and the beach to books, and she’s less than enthusiastic about the company of other girls. As the summer begins, Pam is excited to start working at a boardwalk chocolate shop and to use her earnings to replace her stolen green bicycle. Unfortunately, the nasty old woman who works in the shop won’t stop berating Pam for everything she does, making her miserable; seeing her stolen bike being boldly ridden around town by a strange girl doesn’t help matters. Pam ends up finding fun in the most unlikely of places: the sprawling mansion next door, where a sweet but slightly batty old lady insists her mother once hid treasure. However, the house was long ago split in two and moved; no one knows where the other half is, let alone which half might contain the treasure or what the treasure could be. Pam teams up with friendly new girl Maddy and Maddy’s uptight best friend, Zara, to unravel the mystery; she rides a four-person bicycle, explores a garage’s junkyard and even reads a book or two. The sunny Cape May setting—a perfect backdrop for this quick, summery read—will have readers counting the days until they too can escape to the beach. In Pam, debut author McCauley has created a bright young heroine who’s energetic, impulsive and occasionally annoying—in other words, typical and relatable for young readers. Pam naturally makes mistakes, but she learns from them, too; important lessons, such as why you shouldn’t rush to judge someone, help make this story more substantial than most adventures.
A delightfully fun summer vacation book for young readers.