I read a lot of blogs. One that I look at regularly is called Two Nerdy History Girls. They both write historical novels and have lots of fun and interesting posts about fashion, travel, etc. from long ago. Last week they posted an absolutely charming modern video for book lovers. Don’t miss this one.
A few weeks ago I was visiting Mayra’s Secret Bookcase, another blog I read regularly. Check it out! Just click on the name. Lots of good stuff. She reviewed a book that sounded really fun, and I commented I thought it was a great concept and thought my grandson would love it. She dropped me an email and let me know the author was interested in having more blog reviews and asked if I’d be interested. Well, heck, yeah. Send it on.
So last week I got a little package in the mail containing a copy of A Boy Called Duct Tape by Christopher Cloud. The first thing I noticed is that it seems to be self-published. That used to be a really big red flag, but I know how tough the business is. Besides, it had all five-star reviews on Amazon. How many relatives can one writer have? So what the heck. Give it a try. I am so glad I did. This is a real romp and I can’t wait to hand it off to my grandson. He is going to LOVE it. In fact, I can’t imagine a middle-grader who wouldn’t. Even reluctant readers will be swept up by this fast-moving adventure.
Pedro, age twelve, is known around school as the Duct Tape Kid because his family is so poor he can’t get new shoes when his wear out. He has to repair them with duct tape. And boys that age really go through shoes, so his are more duct tape than shoe. Of course, the kids at school give Pedro a really tough time.His little sister, Pia, age nine, was badly injured in a car accident that killed their father. She has a terrible limp, but soldiers on. Their mother works hard, but they just don’t have much.
At the beginning of summer, Pia and Pedro are swimming in a really deep place in the river, a spring-fed spot, when Pedro finds a twenty-dollar gold piece. When he looks on the internet in the media center, he thinks it might be worth a whole lot more than twenty bucks. When their cousin Kiki comes for a two-week visit, they all decide to take the coin to the town pawn shop to have it appraised. The owners of the shop, the Blood brothers, are really sleazy guys who try to keep the coin, but finally one flips it to Pia. She sticks it in her pocket and they go to the local Outlaw Days Festival celebrating the town’s connection to Jesse James. While there, they buy a map for a dollar that is a copy of a treasure map donated to the local museum, Supposedly, it leads to treasure left behind by the James gang in a deep, deep cave on a nearby mountain. But, of course, everyone knows that’s just a tale. The map has been floating around for years.
When Pia takes the coin from her pocket, the kids discover the Blood brothers have switched coins and stolen theirs. They return to the shop, but it’s closed and locked. They are crushed. Pedro is convinced of two things: the coin is real and worth a lot, and the treasure map is real and has been ignored by everyone.
The children find a odd, tough man who is a world-class spelunker and convince him they have a map to the Jesse James treasure. They tell him they know it’s real because of the coin they found. He finally agrees to take them to treasure hunt in the cave, and they agree to pay him with a cut of the treasure. They head out in canoes and soon discover they are being followed by the Blood brothers. They lose them, and head up the mountain. After a lot of searching, they find the entrance to the cave. This isn’t some little run-of-the-mill cave. This is miles long and deep with twists and turns and dangers nearly unimaginable. The group is challenged at every turn and face more hazards than a crash-test dummy. When they are partway through their journey, they discover they are being followed. There is little doubt who is tracking them.
This is an old-fashioned adventure story told at breath-taking speed. There are plenty of twists to keep the pages turning and the readers guessing. I highly recommend this to anyone who has kids or who is a kid at heart and loves a good adventure.
There are still a couple of days left to leave a comment on the last blog post and get into the drawing for a book. You can do that by clicking HERE. Since I can't give away my copy of A Boy Called Duct Tape because I just have to give it to my grandson, if you leave a comment on this blog post by next Saturday at midnight, I will put your name in a drawing for the book not claimed on the last drawing. (How’s that for cryptic?)
If you have trouble leaving a comment, click on the title of the post and it will give you just this post with a comments section on the bottom.