Book Talk: Dewey's parents are off on their annual anniversary trip, and he's in charge of the family bike repair shop while they're away. Normally they'd have a baby-sitter, but now that his older sister is 18 they convinced their parents that they could take care of themselves and Dewey is eager to prove that he can handle the responsibility. If only they had known what they were getting themselves into. Suddenly the oil supplies that had been running low run out entirely and Dewey's parents are stranded where they are, along with the rest of the country. With all the cars out of commission, the business in the bike shop really picks up. The repair jobs pile up faster by the minute, parts start costing more, bike thieves multiply, and if the crisis isn't resolved soon mob rule threatens to take over. Dewey's never missed his parents more, and they're never been farther away. How will he ever be able to cope until they get back?
Rocks my Socks: With all the oil running out this book has a very realistic post-apocalyptic air, but it's also the most charming post-apocalyptic book I've ever read. Bad things happen and everyone is pushed to their limits, but the kids are able to constantly rise above it and focus on the good things that are happening as well. They end up trusting people they shouldn't, but that doesn't cause them to stop trusting everyone and their trust in other people is rewarded. It's a wonderful moral, but it's conveyed in a very realistic way and not at all heavy-handed. There are also other nice themes woven into the plot such as them growing some of their own food, and biking, and taking junk and recycling it into art--I think it will go over very well in Marin county, where I live. Plus the main character is named Dewey, so as a student of library science I have to like it. It's my favorite juvenile fiction book of the year--and I don't even know how to ride a bike!
Rocks in my Socks: If I was pressed to find something I didn't like about the book it would be that the gender roles aren't very balanced. The female daughter is in charge of watching the five-year-old twins while the two boys handle the bike repair shop. The adult female characters also seem to be mainly involved with child-rearing while the male characters are truck drivers and cops and bike repairers. Not that there's anything wrong with a woman devoting herself to children, heck I work at an elementary school library myself and I love my job, but it would be nice to also have a female character who was a bike repair expert or a cop.
Every Book its Reader: I think that this book has really broad appeal. It has some meat to it, but its overall tone remains pretty light-hearted and outright humorous at times. I'd recommend it to any kid who enjoys realistic fiction. It would be a great read aloud for a class, too.
Crunch by Leslie Connor
Support independent book stores and buy it through indiebound or check it out at your local library