Title: The Happy Hollisters and the Castle Rock MysteryThe-Happy-Hollisters-and-the-Castle-Rock-Mystery
Author: Jerry West
Pages: 174
Recommended Ages: 8-12
Star Rating: ★★★★

I’ve been hearing about The Happy Hollisters from a young friend of mine for some time now, so I was super-happy to find a copy of one of their adventures at a Goodwill a couple of weeks back.

The Story.

When a U. S. Weather Bureau instrument parachute lands in their front yard, the Happy Hollisters are eager to learn more about it. So they take it to Mr. Kent, Shoreham’s newspaper editor. He not only fills them in on the parachute, but also tells them about strange lights which have been seen down near Pine Lake. The Hollisters are determined to investigate. But it seems like the more they find out, the more mysteries they uncover. Who are the two men who have been creeping around Mr. Kinder’s quarry at Castle Rock? What is the strange creature which has been sighted in Pine Lake? And who is trying to scare the Hollisters off of their investigation?

When Mr. Kinder disappears, the Hollisters know that things are serious. Can they rescue him and solve the mystery of Castle Rock? You’ll have to read The Castle Rock Mystery to find out!

Discussion.

This was my first foray into the world of the Happy Hollisters, and I am very pleased with what I found.

The Happy Hollisters are a group of five children – Pete, Pam, Ricky, Holly, and Sue – and their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hollister. Mr. and Mrs. Hollister, while not as prominently featured as the children, were still very involved in their childrens’ adventure. The children are respectful to their parents and other adults (the only exception was Pam calling the villain a ‘meanie’. Not much attitude there…). While the children occasionally tease one another, they are intensely loyal to each other and work together beautifully.

Here are just a few examples to demonstrate the strong character of the Hollister children.

  • When Joey Brill steals Ricky’s parachute, Pam and Holly sew Ricky a new one so that he will not be sad.
  • When Indy forbids the children to climb Castle Rock, they obey him, even though they long to explore the top.
  • When Mrs. Hollister explains to the children why a trip that they had planned won’t work, the children do not pout, but instead acknowledge that their mother is right.
  • When Mr. Kinder offers a thunder egg to Pam, Pam responds, “Oh, thank you, our brother and sisters will love to see this.” [pg. 18]
  • When Mrs. Hollister asks Ricky to mow the lawn, he consents without a complaint and Holly volunteers to trim the hedges.

Another thing that I loved was the fact that the Hollister children accepted responsibility for their own actions. On the few occasions that Ricky and Holly’s high energy cause a ruckus, they both apologize and take full blame for the situation. This is so refreshing and so different from the typical story in which the protagonist can always find some excuse for his disobedience.

There are a few ‘oh-come-on’ moments, but no more than are usually present in a children’s mystery series.

An adult tells the Happy Hollisters that a monster has been seen in Pine Lake. Pete laughingly shrugs this off, telling the man “we don’t believe in monsters”, but later the children think they do see the monster. It isn’t a scary scene and there is a natural explanation for it.

When strange lights are seen near Pine Lake, they are labeled a UFO – which is correct. No mention is made of aliens, and these sightings are also accounted for.

Golly’ is used once.

Conclusion. A happy story about happy children, The Happy Hollisters and the Castle Rock Mystery will engage your children without filling them with silliness. Purchase your copy here!

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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