Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers…the blog that takes aim at each new book that comes our way to see just what adventure might await us in the pages.
Today’s post is a perfect example of that adventure but also a lot more. You see, when I first laid eyes on this one in our local store (see my Roving Reader post for proof…should you need it ^_^), I thought…huh, now that looks like a fun read. The cover just screams adventure with the treasure map, the “X’ that marks the spot and the kid rappelling down a wire (or something) with a key dangling from his mouth. Yep. I was pretty sure this would be a mini-Indiana-Jones-esque sorta read. Guess what though? Though it WAS adventure filled, there was a whole lot more that couldn’t be discerned from first appearances…and that my friends is what truly makes this one special. Before I delve any further ahead, allow me to introduce you to today’s book of choice…
From the official website…
A SAWEET SYNOPSIS: Set in the seaside town of
Port Townsend, Washington, Saltwater Taffy follows the lives of five friends as they uncover a treasure map that once belonged to the ruthless 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! New Orleans
Yes…you read that correctly. A “saweet” synopsis…hehe, oh just say it out loud, no wait…yell it! (Fun, right?) Just a warning for those of you that tend to pick up the verbal patterns of characters in the books you read….you’ll no doubt find yourself saying this one word exclamation time and again. Seriously! After I finished it, a coworker happened to say it which promptly sent my mind reeling back to the story and my mouth sharing a few key details on why their “word of the day” tickled me so. Gotta love how bookish conversations can get their spark from almost anything. ^_^ Anywho…back to the story here…
So, as you just read…there IS a treasure hunt for the infamous pirate’s lost haul; one that is all consuming to this quaint little town. No really! A new clue has been released over the past few years (this being the third to be exact) and each one leads to a treasure of one variety or another…but never has the big mother load of gold and doubloons (or other oldish coins) been found. Until now…or at least they have a pretty good idea where to start looking for it. The “they” in this case are five friends who couldn’t be more different than one another but in the end are stronger for it.
There’s Scott Martin, aka Scooter, and his big brother Gary….a healthy relationship there, much more so than usually portrayed in books with siblings. Next we have Jimmy, a big kid (as in size, not age) that takes a lot “for the team” but eventually finds his footing making them respect him even more. Then there is Zippy, one smart fellow and loves a good puzzle making the treasure hunt a double win for him…but he’s working through the loss of his father not-so-many months ago so he has his own trials to deal with. Last but not least, we have Jaq…aka Jacqueline; yep, a girl and she can hold her own and then some too! She’s an ace when it comes to pitching, or throwing anything for that matter, always hitting her mark and a blast to be around…but her challenges are fitting in with everyone else, especially the clique-y girls at school. Now we’ve covered the “good” guys, let us not forget a few other noteworthy souls that give this adventure an extra little oomph…
You’ve got Ms. Benson, the town librarian who dispenses knowledge as often as books; plus you have to love her summer reading group, pirate themed of course! Harley “Fatman” Jensen, the ice cream parlor owner, plays an interesting role for an adult. He’s definitely in touch with his inner child and realizes the importance of following your heart (which might explain the supposed loose end involving him near book’s end…*ponders*). Old Man Sheesley is a hoot with his never ending quest to find the treasure and at any cost…after all, the odds are in his favor as he’s the one who solved the last TWO clues! (Odds, smods…it’s brains and courage that matter!) Yes siree…it’s a “motley” crew but a wonderful one at that and the range of personalities and types represented just speaks even more to the positive messages it aims to convey. Wait a minute…I didn’t touch on those messages yet, did I? DOH!
Remember how I said this was more than an adventure story, right? Here’s the “more”. At the end of every chapter (well, almost every) is a “Treasure Tip” and said tip is a positive statement about life, friendship, the works. From “Your imagination can lift you up or down. It’s up to you.” (pg 97) to “Friendships are memories. Make them often.” (pg 153), they are there to inspire and bolster the ever forming sense of self that young readers are reaching for but also serve as a GREAT reminder of values that may have been dropped by the wayside on the road to becoming a grown up. (*darn bumpy road_continues search for universal paver*)
You see, it’s easy to worry about the bad all whether things that have happened or might possibly come to pass…but what about all the good? We can’t just let that slip out of our grasp or we’re left with a big steaming pile of…nothingness. It’s all doom and gloom with seemingly no way out…ever; trust me, I’ve slipped on that banana peel of life a time or two (who hasn’t?). The time spent worrying didn’t net us anything but MORE worry…but the happy times and remembrances of them, they were and are able to give us more joy in return than we can measure. It’s almost along the lines of “The Secret” …if you put your faith and energies towards the good things in life and what you want to accomplish, the universe will respond in kind. Now, I can’t say whether or not THAT’S true…but I will say this: reflecting on the positive in life will always bring a smile to your face and a lightness to your step, and what on this green green earth could possibly be wrong with that?
In conclusion, a treasure of a story in more ways than one. You’ll laugh, you’ll gasp, you’ll marvel at how every varied piece comes together to become this one wholesome picture. It’s truly a surprising book…and I mean that in the best way possible. As the author says….
“Always remember…every moment is another adventure waiting to happen.”
What will be YOUR adventure today?
|Author Eric Delabarre aka "Uncle E"|
Special thanks to author Eric Delabarre for the review copy…and nifty bookmark. (THANKS!) For more information on this book, check out the official website or ‘like’ the Facebook page. To discover more works by the illustrator (did you know he worked on “All Dogs Go to Heaven” and “Anastasia”?), stop by R.C. Nelson’s official website or the SAWEET Store. To see what the author is up to next, be sure to check out his site, ‘like’ him on Facebook or follow along on Twitter. Speaking of “up to next”, a little birdie told me that a live action film is in the works for this book…something along the lines of “Stand By Me meets the Goonies, but told in the style of Forest Gump”. *adds to must see list* One last thing…if you are looking to expand your adventure with this book further or perhaps utilize it in a classroom setting, don’t miss Another Piece of Saltwater Taffy, a workbook designed to help in that process.
Until next time…happy reading!