What It Is About: Obe Devlin isn't the happiest of kids. His family, for the last 100 years has owned land, but has been getting taken over by developers. Obe also is learning how his great-grandfather lost some of the very land that Obe spends his days on. He has also lost what he thought was his best-friend. The friend has decided to hang out with the "cool" kids. This leaves Obe alone spending time by the creek and enjoying nature. He does befriend the "loner" girl who lives nearby, but she isn't always "allowed" to be outside according to her parents rules. When Obe discovers an animal out near the creek, he life changes dramatically. This animal has never been seen before and Obe isn't quite sure what type of animal it is. But the two of them bond right away and become friends. He even names him "Marvin Gardens" after his family's favorite game Monopoly. Obe isn't sure what to do with the information about the animal, but when news gets out to both kids and adults, he must do everything he can to make sure Marvin stays safe and alive.
What I Thought Of It: A completely enjoyable read. I so enjoyed the story of Obe and his new friend. As a reader I couldn't quite picture what this "animal" looked like and created a curiosity to keep reading to find out more. Obe's former friend was such a strong antagonist that I found myself so angry at him on several occasions. I liked that the story wasn't just about this new animal/pet, but there were several other plot lines that added greatly to the overall story. The flashbacks one hundred years were interesting to read about and figure out how that time period fit with the current story. I "tweeted" that I am beginning to notice that many middle-grade novels contain short chapters. This is a benefit for readers at this age. Even as an adult reader, I prefer short chapters. This was a fun, engaging, and page-turning read.
Who Should Read It: The book could be used for either a class read aloud or to put in the hands of an individual reader. Fifth and sixth grade readers may be the best audience. Of course middle-school readers would also enjoy the story of Obe, Marvin, and all the other characters in the story. I also know many adult educators that have read the book and enjoyed it. Happy Reading!
Rating: 4 STARS out of 5 Stars