|Return to Augie Hobble|
Author: Smith, Lane
New Mexico middle-schooler Augie Hobble grapples with adolescence, paranormal mysteries, an overdue Creative Arts project, and heartbreaking loss while working his father's theme park, Fairy Tale Place.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.10
Points: 4.0 Quiz: 176329
Kirkus Reviews (+) (02/01/15)
School Library Journal (03/01/15)
Booklist (+) (05/01/15)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (07/15)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 03/01/2015 Gr 4–6—Smith's first novel begins with a scattered and zany atmosphere. That's entirely appropriate, given its setting at a struggling New Mexico amusement park. It may, however, present as much of a problem in attracting and retaining readers as Fairy Tale Place has in luring in customers. Augie's failed his Creative Arts class at the aptly named Gerald R. Ford Middle School and must complete a project over the summer. His story is interspersed with his cartoon ideas for the assignment, which make it clear that Augie lacks decisiveness more than creativity. These pieces, along with frequent insertions of Smith's illustrations, break up the text in ways which will appeal to kids who enjoy art-heavy, journal-form novels. About a quarter of the way through, intersections of the folkloric and the paranormal combine to give a more coherent direction to the narrative, despite our view through the scrim of implausibility. Werewolves, UFOs, and communications from the world beyond are prominently featured, but it's the fate of Augie's best friend and Augie's struggle to cope with responsibility for it that deepen the book and make it more touching than it initially seems. VERDICT Readers who persevere through the broad comedy will find a story with heart within.—Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 05/01/2015 *Starred Review* Smith huffs and puffs and blows the roof off his first novel. Augie Hobble is in for a wicked summer painting polka dots on the toad-shaped toadstools at his father’s rundown theme park, Fairy Tale Place, while dodging bullies and retaking his failed creative arts class in summer school. There are some bright spots, though, in the form of his best friend Britt and the flirtatious new Cinderella talent at the park. What starts as a quirky summer read quickly morphs into something nearly impossible to explain, and that’s not just a reference to Augie’s belief that he is turning into a werewolf. Plot elements that include groan-worthy humor; paranormal mysteries; special, special federal agents; a desert chase; and sock-in-the-gut tragedy are interspersed with Augie’s illustrated brainstorming journal of wacky projects for summer school. Augie documents his summer with a Polaroid camera that was left in the park’s lost and found way back in the 1990s—it takes “cool pictures that look like Instagram.” If this novel were normal, fans would be disappointed. Give it to readers who wish Bridge to Terabithia had been written by Polly Horvath. Bravo, Lane Smith! - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 07/01/2015 Fairy Tale Place, the fading amusement park owned by Augie Hobble’s family, has always been a strange place to grow up in, but lately Augie has been wondering if there’s something supernatural going on. An encounter with a wolfish creature in the nearby woods leaves Augie sprouting some mysterious hair, pets are going missing, and strange, jumbled entries are appearing in Augie’s journal—entries he is sure he never wrote. Meanwhile there are the trials of everyday life as a middle-schooler to contend with, including bullying by the obnoxious Hogg Wills, Augie’s failure in Creative Arts class, and his best friend’s vacation that will leave Augie friendless and alone. A quirky setting with a host of eccentric characters places this in seemingly familiar territory, and Smith’s frequent black and white illustrations, along with Augie’s cartoons and handwritten stories, add humor and accessibility. The twists and turns into supernatural happenings initially make for a pleasingly off-kilter trajectory, but when the book suddenly veers into real tragedy, the shock is jarring and the continuous comedy seems at odds with the overwhelming loss that Augie experiences. At the heart of the story, though, is a connection between two boys that transcends even death, and readers willing to overlook the tonal inconsistencies will find an emotionally resonant reflection on friendship and loss. KQG - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.