Tuesday, June 5, 2012

MG Book Review: Saltwater Taffy, by Eric DelaBarre

General Information
Publisher:  Seven Publishing
Year of publication:  2011
# of chapters:  34
# of pages:  248
Genre:  Adventure
Website:  whatagreatbook.com

Plot summary (from the website):
Set in the seaside town of Port Townsend, Washington, Saltwater Taffy is an award-winning children’s adventure novel following the lives of five “tweenage” friends as they uncover a treasure map that once belonged to the ruthless New Orleans pirate, Jean Lafitte.  The discovery thrusts them from one treasure hunting adventure to the next as they try to out-wit, out-think and out-maneuver everyone from a one-legged junk yard man and an overbearing town bully, to the creepy old man living at the top of the hill.  Saltwater Taffy is a race to the finish adventure that will capture your heart, again and again!

Positive Points
The story is engaging, filled with suspense and action, twists and turns, friendships and betrayals. There's something about hidden treasures that's very appealing to both kids and adults. Looking for clues, finding parts of a map, figuring out where it could be... all that makes for a great plot. I could easily see this story made into a movie.

This book teaches values and lessons of life, such as self confidence and accepting our differences, although at times I was hearing more the author's voice than the character's voice. It felt like the author had written that book specifically to teach lessons to kids, which may be frowned upon by today's book industry. I still think the lessons in this book were good and made it stand out from other books that are purely entertaining. I like books that leave me thinking about deeper values.

The characters are unique and believable. I could easily picture them in my mind. Each has a distinctive voice and personality. Scooter and some of his friends go through character growth during the novel and become a little different by the time the story is over, which is always good.

The illustrations, the feel of the book, the pages with uneven margins all made the whole reading experience very enjoyable. I love my Kindle, but nothing beats the feel and smell of a good paper book. I bought it from the author's website, and it came as an autographed hard covered copy, along with several bookmarks, stickers, postcards, and a poster. Nice bonus. I wasn't expecting that!

Negative Points
This book has way too much telling for my taste. The plot is often stalled with details about each character that are not essential to the story. The story could have been written a lot tighter, to my opinion. Still, some of these details made me laugh or gave me a better picture of who the characters were, so it's not all that bad.

The story is written in first person POV, but Scooter is able to read other people's minds or know exactly how they feel, somehow. I would understand if it was an omniscient POV, but this is first person. Scooter knows his friends very well, I know, but it appeared to me as being a case of POV shift.

At times, the main character sounds a lot older than his age and talks about concepts thirteen-year-old boys don't normally care about or understand yet. Unless he's very mature for his age, which is always possible.

What makes this book unique
It's about a treasure hunt, and it's about kids with unique characteristics they learn to accept and appreciate. Their own personal treasures.

Overall Impression
Good read! I just wish it had been written a little tighter, and with less POV shifts, but it's still a great read. If you like treasure hunts, this book is for you!  I would give it three and half stars, but since I don't have half stars, I'll be generous and give it a four. Just because the story was awesome.

My Rating:

Thinking of purchasing this book? I'll make it easy for you:


Unknown said...

What a great, well-balanced and thoughtful review. I'm so pleased to see something other than gushing over other authors' work. (That makes me think they're all pod people.) Awesome review, Annie!

Annie McMahon said...

Thanks, Lexa! That's a great compliment. I'm glad you liked my review.

Akoss said...

This sounds like something I should read :)
Thanks for such a detailed review.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, I really like the cover... so colourful and looks like fun. As always Annie, you have the best reviews... letting us see what works and what doesn't. Nice.

Marcia said...

This sounds like a good read, Annie. Normally, I don't like telling, sprawl, or heavy lessons, so I'm glad the great story outweighs this.

Anonymous said...

treasure maps hold a magical place in my heart :o) terrific review - thanks for letting us know the +s and minuses.

Emailman said...

Your reviews are the BEST! :)

Annie McMahon said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments!

Taffy said...

So I guess I need to buy this book because my name is TAFFY! :) Looks like a good book.

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