4 out of 4 stars
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Best friends Pete and Carol Ann are off to an adventurous autumn. The eleven-year-old friends are learning about weather in school and experience firsthand, the effects of thunderstorms, dust devils, floods, and lightning. While they learn the importance of being cautious, the wild seasonal weather doesn't interfere with their fun visits to the Oak Glen apple orchards, Sturtevant Falls, Knott's Berry Farm, and the California Alligator Farm. When they cross paths with three school bullies, the weather isn't the only stormy challenge Pete and Carol Ann must face. Meanwhile, Carol Ann is recording clues in her notepad about the latest local mystery. Is the black pick-up truck they keep seeing involved in the recent burglaries? Follow their escapades in Ferocious Fall: Our Wild Weather Escapes, the third volume of the 1950s Adventures of Pete and Carol Ann series, by C.A. Hartnell.
This fast-paced children's chapter book is 118 pages and is exceptionally edited. Some of its themes are fear, faith, bullying, friendship, trust, and loyalty. It also includes fun additional content at the end of the book that will appeal to young readers: Carol Ann's photo album, a glossary of expressions, a recipe card, and an interesting list referencing the cost of items in the 1950s. As the third book in a series, it stands on its own. As the second volume I've read in the series, I found that the books don't necessarily have to be read in order.
The book features a well-developed cast of characters and is written from the perspective of Carol Ann. In this volume, Carol Ann is worried about the severe weather conditions and the local burglaries. She records Bible verses and clues in her notepad. The scriptures are comforting, as they apply to fears regarding both the weather and bullies. Carol Ann's best friend, Pete, stands up to the bullies and is also quick with humorous responses that illustrate popular slang from the 1950s. Mary Jane, his obstinate older sister, manages to blame Pete and Carol Ann for her constant messy mishaps. Buddy, is Carol Ann's 10-month-old beagle, and his antics will also delight young readers.
I particularly like the way the author teaches readers about elements of weather and historic places in California. As the kids encounter different types of weather, the author introduces vocabulary words and their origins; "Our teacher had informed us that cirrus was Latin for curls of hair." Several of the chapters are designated to family and school outings, and each one contains interesting related facts. For instance, regarding the California Alligator Farm, the guide informs the class, "We supply alligators to the motion picture industry and have had many famous visitors here, including Albert Einstein."
I honestly can't name anything I dislike about the book. The author balances adventure, humor, and pop culture with lessons about historic places, weather, and positive character traits. I'm pleased to rate the book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to young readers between the ages of 8 and 12, as well as parents, teachers, and grandparents who will enjoy sharing the nostalgia with their kids.
Ferocious Fall: Our Wild Weather Escapes
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