A 10-year-old searches for Al Capone's lost treasure.
It's Christa's last summer in the north woods of Wisconsin: her teacher father has lost his job, and the family cabin is for sale. Everything's different—her parents are working temp jobs instead of relaxing, her 16-year-old sister is too busy waitressing to be any fun, and their grumpy neighbor has retired (thus able to bear witness to Christa's many escapades) and now has his 11-year-old grandson, Alex, living with him. When Alex proves to have a quirky sense of humor that matches Christa's, they imagine fantastic adventures until a real one—finding the stash of money Al Capone supposedly stored somewhere nearby—absorbs their attention. Could the money be enough to save the cabin? Tougas' first-person narration seems stiff at first, as Christa starts out as a whiny one-note character. Eventually, however, the characterization deepens as well as the intrigue, and the fast-paced ending has enough bite to satisfy. The premise will cause inevitable comparisons to Gennifer Choldenko’s Alcatraz tales, but the story stands on its own.
Entertaining and humorous; good light fare for middle graders. (Fiction. 8-12)