Holiday House, 2013. 978-0823428595
Synopsis: Hunter and his twin brother Zack just want to enjoy the last days of summer before Doomsday (the first day of school). But when Sarah Yulefski tells them that someone is planning a kidnapping in their small town and it’s going to be someone in their family, the boys know they have to keep on the lookout for trouble. But with their mom having another baby (that they hope to name Killer Godzilla), their grandmother trying to hold down the house, their older sister Linny trying to get them into trouble, and their younger brother Steadman wanting to tag along, it’s going to take some serious sleuthing to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Why I picked it up: It was another featured title at a vendor’s booth at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago this last summer.
Why I finished it: Giff, a two-time Newbery Honor Medalist, doesn’t have a large body of work, but what she lacks in quantity she makes up for in quality. Her writing style is distinctive and her humor is second-to none in her follow-up to Hunter Moran Saves the Universe. Hunter and his brother would be enjoying the last days of summer (as most kids would), but there’s far too much going on to remember that they were supposed to be reading three books for the start of school. And even though the source of the kidnapping information is unreliable at best, it seems like they’ll do anything to keep from being around their siblings…and anything to keep someone from taking one of them away. It’s a quick read that keeps the reader guessing and gathering clues to solve the mystery along with Hunter and Zack. Part mystery, part farce, and full of heart, Giff takes the reader on a wild goose chase that winds around several town landmarks and ends almost where it starts.
Other related materials: Hunter Moran Saves the Universe by Patricia Reilly Giff; The Misadventures of the Magician’s Dog by Frances Sackett; All The Wrong Questions books by Lemony Snicket; First Kids Mystery books by Martha Freeman, illustrated by Glin Dibley; How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks, illustrated by Sarah Watts; The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates books by Caroline Carson, illustrated by Dave Phillips; The Missing books by Margaret Peterson Haddix; Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein; Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno; Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School books by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Adam Stower; The Time Warp Trio books by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith; Marvin Redpost books by Louis Sachar, illustrated by Amy Wummer; Third Grade Angels by Jerry Spinelli