Title: Mystery at the Indian Hide-OutMystery at the Indian Hideout1
Author: Christine Noble Govan & Emmy West
Illustrator: Frederick T. Chapman
Pages: 192
Reading Level: 8-12
Star Rating: ★★★

Found this cute looking cover too much to resist…

The Story.

Jimmy Randall is very grateful to his older sister, Mickey, for always including him on the adventures she had with her gang, the Cherokees. But now, the Cherokees are all getting older and he’s starting to feel lonely. He wishes there were a few boys in the neighborhood for him to adventure with!

And then, as sudden as wishing, a new family moves to the neighborhood. Not only do they have two boys, but they also have twin girls! Together Jimmy, Rob, Billy, Judy, and Becky form the “Lookout Club”. They begin their adventures by exploring the nearby mountains. And that’s where they find it – the old cabin built by Indians hundreds of years ago. Is there really a secret room in the house? And a secret passage to get there?

But it seems the house isn’t just headquarters to the Lookouts – three other men are seen meeting up at the house. But why would three grown men go so far out of their way just to talk? Something seems shady, and Jimmy is determined that the Lookouts will be up to the challenge of unraveling the mystery!

Discussion.

I’ve said in my review of Tac’s Turn how strongly I believe that a sequel, no matter how good the original novel, should be able to stand on its own. Yes, it can reference the previous novel and rely upon it for some characterization, but the plot should have enough interest to rivet those who have had no previous chance to become attached to the characters.

Mystery At the Indian Hide-Out could stand on its own – I read it, it made sense, and was actually a lot of fun. But it did spend quite a bit of time referencing past exploits, emphasizing the amazingness of past adventures, and generally making you feel like you’d missed out big time by not reading the other books. Now, this may be a good marketing strategy, but it is not good for a plot.

For the most part the relationships are good – Jimmy and his friends, the Cherokees, have just gotten to the place where their age gap makes more of a difference. They’re entering high school and are more interested in “adult” things whereas Jimmy still wants to romp. He accepts this and finds his new friends – they all get along very well, except for one thing that actually bothered me a great deal.

And that was the treatment of Billy, one of the new boys. Billy is chubby and Rob often teases him about his size. Billy is also a bit timid, which puts him in line for lots of ribbing. Now, for the most part this was done good-naturedly, but Billy doesn’t always enjoy the joking and the others never apologize. I was troubled by this blasé treatment of what could be a very sensitive topic for Billy – does nobody care how the jokes make him feel?

Now, to be fair, the author does say that Jimmy found some of Rob’s ribbing rough, but he next thinks that “he didn’t have to live with Billy” – the implication being that Billy deserves the teasing. Jimmy does nothing to try to stop him and in fact makes a few comments himself. Poor Billy.

When Jimmy first hears that the new neighbours are moving in, he bemoans the fact that they will no longer have a “haunted” house in the neighborhood. (He doesn’t actually think the house is haunted.) Later, when they find the cabin, Jimmy tells the story of an Indian princess who was held in the secret room until she died. The children half-jokingly posit that her ghost might still be there. Jimmy capitalizes on this notion by bring a mummy’s head and dangling it around to frighten the other children. After they’ve freaked out, he explains the joke to them, then later uses the same trick to scare the villains out of the secret passageway. Of course, an illustration of the eerily-lit head has to be shown…

‘Darn’ is used twice and ‘gosh’ once.

Conclusion. Not quite as cute as the Happy Hollisters or as exciting as the Hardy Boys, but I’ll look out for more of the Lookouts’ adventures. ;)

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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