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|Secret of Ferrell Savage|
Author: Gill, Jennifer Duddy
Just as twelve-year-old Ferrell Savage is beginning to think of Mary Vittles, his life-long friend, as a potential girlfriend, a new boy at school blackmails them with a family secret--that one of Ferrell's ancestors ate one of Mary's.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: 4.0 Quiz: 171708
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.30
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 62508
Kirkus Reviews (-) (12/15/13)
School Library Journal (03/01/14)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (03/14)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 02/01/2014 As we meet 12-year-old Ferrell, he is reluctantly building a sled to use in the upcoming day-after-Christmas Big Sled Race on Golden Hill. Mary, his best friend and, lately, his heartthrob, has convinced him to compete. His homemade sled (a lawn chair superglued to mismatched skis) does well until he hits a bump; Ferrell flies through the air, turns flips, lands at the bottom of the hill, and becomes a hero for his daring exploits. However, it is Bruce Littledood who has actually won the race, and now he is out to get revenge because Ferrell stole the spotlight. A rematch is scheduled after Ferrell and Mary realize that classmate Bruce (a master genealogist) knows their deep dark secret (it involves a bit of cannibalism in the family history). The outcome is predictable, but the action, suspense, and pure fun of getting down the hill is worth the trip. Offer this fine first novel to fans of Janet Tashjian’s My Life series or the Big Nate books by Lincoln Peirce. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 03/01/2014 Ferrell Savage doesn’t even realize that his family has a terrible secret until Bruce Littledood, a fellow twelve-year-old with a knack for genealogical research, arrives on scene. Bruce is angry that Ferrell’s accidental death-defying stunts at the town’s Big Sled Race overcome his own impressive win, and, in revenge, is threatening to reveal the histories of Ferrell’s and his best friend Mary Vittles’ families, unless Ferrell shows up for a rematch down a steeper, more dangerous hill. Ferrell and Mary undertake investigative work and discover that one of Ferrell’s ancestors was Alferd Packer, a traveler whose snowed-in conditions caused him to eat his five traveling companions, one of whom was Mary’s relative. The two friends agree to the contest, only to get stuck together in a whiteout themselves, which forces them to overcome the potentially deadly circumstances. The subject of cannibalism is treated with cheerful absurdity: Ferrell and his family are vegan because his parents believe that they can’t otherwise control their inherited taste for flesh, and Mary points out the implications of their names. Ferrell is compellingly drawn, as he struggles to deal with newfound fame while hiding his burgeoning (and seemingly reciprocated) feelings for know-it-all Mary. A screwball take on an unusual topic that’s tempered with sweetness and honesty, this will appeal to youngsters who want to sink their teeth into something a little less conventional. TA - Copyright 2014 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 03/01/2014 Gr 3–6—Unlike everyone else in Golden Hill, Colorado, 12-year-old Ferrell Savage is thinking less about winning the Big Sled Race and more about impressing his best friend, Mary Vittles. He doesn't win, but instead becomes a local hero when his lounge-chair-turned-sled takes a death-defying tumble. Mary is not impressed, but the new kid Bruce Littledood notices and threatens to reveal a dark secret about Mary and Ferrell's families. Set in a fictional town, Gill's novel uses real events and people from Colorado history as the foundation for this modern story. In 1874, Alfred Packer was accused of murdering and eating his five traveling companions while stuck in a snowstorm. In this story, Ferrell is Packer's great-great-great-nephew, while Mary is the great-great-great-granddaughter of one of the cannibalized men. The historical connection is intriguing, but the unrealistic plot and unbelievable characters are not. Told from Ferrell's perspective, the narration and dialogue often feel forced, and the undeveloped characters lack dimension while navigating improbable situations. Littledood's sudden change of heart and the heavy-handed delivery of the moral makes for a trite ending. The back matter includes a bit of information about the historical characters, but lacks a bibliography. An additional purchase, primarily for libraries in Colorado that are looking for titles with local connections.—Amy Seto Musser, Denver Public Library - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.