Calendula Cool: MAS Adventure #44
A girl carrying a small figurine comes running out of the woods and into a clearing by a cliff overlooking the ocean as darkness falls. A boy is there. Startled, they both scream, and the girl drops what she is carrying. The boy jumps behind a boulder, and when he peeks out, the girl has disappeared. Footsteps pound through the woods toward where the boy is hiding; something really big comes crashing through, and the boy makes a quick getaway.
Calendula is a small town on the California coast, and, as is often the case in a small town, rumors race like wildfire. The next day will be the second-to-last day before the long summer break, and that was all anyone would normally think about, but the rumors flying all over the middle school about the ghost girl on the cliff captures everyone’s attention. The usual cliques exist at the school, and the three main cliques are at the heart of this story. There is a group of boys known for their bullying ways — Stuart, Brandon, Jason and Brad, a group of bright boys who are at the receiving end of the bullying — Danny, Matthew, Jeremy, Gustavo, and Micheal — also known as the Mysterious Adventures Society (MAS), and a group of girls led by the stunning Lola. Everyone, it seems has reason to want to find the ghost girl and whatever treasure it was that she carried. The bully boys end up in cahoots with a really, really bad guy, and the bright boys join forces with Lola to help to rescue the ghost girl from the forces of evil. It’s a tough mysterious adventure for MAS with no guarantee of success.
This book has all the ingredients needed for a good middle-grade mystery. Unfortunately, the book has a lot in it that slows the story way down, and it needs to be seriously trimmed. Readers don’t need a half-page description for tertiary characters who only show up for a scene or two. They don’t need to have detailed descriptions of every bicycle that every kid rides or every set of clothing each character wears or every place a character spends a few minutes in. There are a lot of young characters in this story and some with similar names (Brandon, Brad, Jason, Jeremy, Matthew, Michael) make it hard for young readers to keep track. Fortunately, the story is good with just enough compelling adventure and mystery to keep the middle-grade crowd reading. With good rounds of developmental editing, copy editing, and a very good round of proofreading (so many run-on sentences and comma splices and comma errors!), this could become very popular and perhaps be the springboard for a series.
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