Cynthia DeFelice, Author
Square Fish; Reprint edition May 17, 2016, Fiction
Suitable for ages: 8-12
Themes: Building a fort, Friendship, Bullies, Standing up for yourself
Opening/Prologue: This is the 100 percent true story of the summer I — Wyatt Jones — was eleven and built a fort in the woods with my friend Augie Valerio. It isn’t the story I handed in to my teacher about how I spent my summer vacation. See, there’s stuff that happened that you can’t really talk about in school. Not unless you want to get in trouble…
Synopsis: Wyatt and his friend Augie aren’t looking for a fight. They’re having the time of their lives hanging out in the fort they built in the woods, fishing and hunting, cooking over a campfire, and sleeping out. But when two older boys mess with the fort — and with a kid who can’t fight back — the friends are forced to launch Operation Doom, with unexpected results for all concerned.
Why I like this book:
This is a fast-paced adventure story for boys and a terrific summer read! It’s a summer experience boys would dream of having. It is set in the woods of upstate New York and reminds me of a different time period. Wyatt and his dad visit every summer, where his father teaches at a college. Wyatt hangs out with his best friend, Augie who lives there. Wyatt’s father gives him the trust and freedom to just be a boy and enjoy his summer, which is opposite from his mother’s parenting style.
Wyatt and Augie are very different characters. Wyatt is more tech savvy and strategic and Augie is smart about nature, hunting, fishing and survival in the woods. Both boys have a healthy respect for each other’s differences. As a result, their joint talents contribute to the best summer vacation both boys have ever had. There are other interesting characters there to support the boys when needed. But this is really a kids story.
I was pleased that Wyatt and Augie do the right thing when they realize Gerard, who is differently abled, has been mistreated and threatened by the bullies. They befriend Gerard, draw him into their plan, and help him find his voice.
The plot is believable, thrilling, tense and action-packed. It will keep readers quickly turning pages. When Augie and Wyatt discover two older bullies have messed with their fort, it’s time to act. Together they devise the most awesome strategic plan to teach two bullies a valuable lesson. It isn’t mean-spirited, but will make readers chuckle!
Cynthia DeFelice is the author of many popular books, including Wild Life, The Ghost of Fossil Glen, Signal, and the Missing Manatee. Her novels have been nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award and listed as American Library Association Notable Children’s Books. Visit DeFelice at her website.
**I won Fort in drawing on Greg Pattridge’s popular website, Always in the Middle. He reviews interesting and entertaining middle grade books. Please check it out!
Check other Middle Grade review links on author Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.