In Newbery Honor–winning Surviving the Applewhites (2002), Jake Semple, the big-city “bad kid,” didn’t know how he’d manage a year with that irrepressible clan. In this sequel Jake’s back, but it’s the Applewhites who don’t know how or if they’ll make it.
Thanks to an embezzling financial manager, they’re facing ruin. Theater-director dad Randolph decides to raise money by opening a creative-arts summer camp on their property, at which his uber-talented family will teach gifted kids. As with all of Randolph’s plans, the family is initially skeptical. They pull together when it really counts, though, and soon things are humming and the stage is set for a rousing summer. Just a couple problems, though—threatening notes are turning up in the mailbox, and a mysterious stranger’s nosing around. Organizational-genius daughter E.D. and Jake are on the case, eventually enlisting the aid of the rest of the family. Together with the campers, they devise an ingenious plot to foil the enemy in a satisfying, comical solution to a not-very-mystifying puzzle. The Applewhites remain humorous, heartwarming and devoted to their respective crafts and each other. The campers are fairly successfully realized, though most characterizations are superficial.
Readers who liked the first book will appreciate this one, too, and the glimmerings of a few romances on the horizon will satisfy. (Fiction. 10-13)