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Children’s Fiction of 2007: Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson

Posted by Sherry on 10/10/2007 in Children's Fiction, Cybil Awards, General |

N.D. (Nathan David) Wilson, the author of this adventure story, is the son of pastor Douglas Wilson. I read some of the younger Wilson’s satirical writing in Credenda/Agenda a long time ago, and I realized then that both Mr. Wilsons had a wicked sense of humor. This satirical streak shows itself in Leepike Ridge infrequently, but still appears at times.

I really liked the following exchange, so very representative of the conversations that take place every day between practical, reasonable husbands and totally frustrated wives. In this case, Elizabeth’s son, Tom, is missing, and her male friend, Jeffrey, has been called in to help find Tom:

“So,” Jeffrey said, “where do you want me to look?”
Elizabeth sighed. She was trying very hard not to yell. Jeffrey had come when she’d called, and he’d nodded while she’d described her early morning search along the stream and up the hill behind the house. But he had yet to look anywhere himself.
“You’re a guy, you tell me,” Elizabeth said. “Where would you have gone?”
“I hid in the basement once. But you don’t have a basement, do you?”
“No, Jeffrey, we don’t,” she said. “The house is on a rock. Most people don’t bother digging a basement into solid rock.”
Jeffrey stared out over the small valley floor with its stream and willows. And then he looked at the ridge on the other side and up at the ridge on the other side and up at the ridge behind the house with its small peak.
“Any more ideas?” Jeffrey asked.
“Jeffrey, why don’t you just start looking? I’ve already looked everywhere I could think of.”
“I think its important that we do this rationally.”
Elizabeth shut her eyes and took a long breath. “Jeffrey.”
Jeffrey reised her hands. “No, hear me out. I have an idea. Let’s walk through a number of theoretical options before we make an applied search..”
“Jeffrey,” Elizabeth said, standing up.
“Yes?”
“Let me know when you’ve figured it out. I’m going to follow the stream.” Elizabeth was already walking down the stairs.
“Do you want me to call the police or local radio stations or anything?”
“Wait till I get back.”
“What should I do?” Jeffrey asked.
“The laundry,” Elizabeth said.
Jeffrey watched her tromp through the tall grass toward the stream, and then he got up and went inside. He couldn’t find any laundry.

Wonderful. I had my two oldest daughters read that passage, and they both laughed appreciatively. I had Computer Guru Son read it, and he looked at me and said, “So? What?” Now you know why Leepike Ridge will appeal to moms and teachers. I don’t know how Mr. Wilson managed to Get It, but he obviously does.

This take-off on Tom Sawyer, Robinson Crusoe, and The Odyssey should also appeal to boys especially. It has caves, tunnels, hidden treasure, wild water rafting, and wilderness (sort of) survival. There are bad guys, good guys, dead guys, blood, raw food, and near-dismemberment. What more could a boy want in a book? Girls, too. After all, we girls can Get guy stuff, too.

The pacing is good, and although I had a little trouble believing that the foam insert from a refrigerator box would last through the kind of trip that Mr. Wilson describes in the novel, I was willing to suspend disbelief. After all what do I know about it? I’ve never ridden any kind of raft downstream. Some of the other events and circumstances in the book can only be described as inventive and imaginative. A house chained to the top of an enormous rock? A sarcophagus in a cave? In Idaho? Trust me, as strange as it sounds, it all works. At least it did for me. I’m going to read this one out loud to my son. I think we’ll have a great time with it.

Leepike Ridge, by the way, has been nominated for the Cybil Award for Middle Grade Fiction.

More reviews of Leepike Ridge:

From Kathy of Homeschool Buzz.

From Miss Erin.

From Shelf Elf.

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