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Penny Estelle

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Hike Up Devil's Mountain
by Penny Estelle   

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Books by Penny Estelle
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Publisher:  Solstice Publishing Type: 


Copyright:  May, 2011 ISBN-13:  9781465801234

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Pennys Tales

An abandoned house, a magic stick, and the school bully, is all it takes to turn the lives of three boys upside down. Their only hope lives on top of Devil’s Mountain. The question is, will they survive the hike?

Ten-year old Andy Thompson disobeys his mother and sneaks into the basement of an old abandoned house that’s due for demolition. He stumbles upon a mysterious box under an old cabinet. And his troubles begin when he looks inside.

The Crew brothers, twelve-year old Jason, and ten-year old Danny, also find their way to the basement. New to town, Jason has established himself as the school bully. A struggle ensues between Andy and Jason, and the bully ends up as a toad.

Somehow, the boys must reverse the magical spell. And that means hiking up the dread mountain: fast pace, fast action and some scary turns and surprises on the way! The lives of all three boys seem destined to change forever, if they survive…

Jason was getting closer to Andy. His voice hissed through his teeth. “You must think we are some kind of stupid. We aren’t like the hicks who live in this town and if you think we would even begin to believe some story about an old witch who lived here, then you better think again!” Jason pushed Andy hard against the wooden cabinet.
Andy shut his eyes waiting for the first blow. Nothing happened. He squinted open his left eye and saw Jason’s head cocked to one side, trying to see behind Andy’s back. “What have you got there, Andy Pandy?”
Uh oh, the glowing stick. Andy wasn’t about to give that up. “Nothing,” he told him, trying to back away but there was no place to go.
“Oh I think there is something,” Jason sneered.
“It’s mine!” Andy shouted. “You will have to do your worst if you think you are taking this from me!”
“No problem,” Jason said, lunging forward. Andy tried to fake him out, pretending to run one way and then the other. That didn’t work. That never worked! Jason grabbed Andy’s arm that held the stick and tried to grab it. Something was going to break, and Andy wasn’t sure if it would be the stick or his arm. They both fell and were rolling on the floor. Andy knew he was losing this battle. No matter how hard he held on, he could feel his new-found treasure start to slip out of his grasp.
“Jason, stop it!” Danny shouted. “You’re acting like a big dumb toad!”
“Yeah…you’re … acting… like…a…toad!” Andy gasped between each word.
The stick exploded into a flash of light and then the fight was over. Andy jumped up, trying to fill his lungs with air. What happened? Danny came running over to where Andy stood. “Where’s Jason?” Andy couldn’t answer because he couldn’t catch his breath. Danny yelled, “Jason, where are you? Quit messing around!”
His chest still heaving, Andy stammered, “I don’t know. I . . . don’t know what just happened.”
They both looked to the floor. Under one of the boxes was what looked like a pair of pants. “Jason!” Danny hurried to lift the box. No Jason — just his pants. Lying close by were his nice Nike shoes, socks and a short distance away was his shirt. “What did you do?” he yelled at Andy.
“Nothing! I didn’t do anything! I . . . don’t know!” Andy had no answers.
Danny tried again. “Jason,” he screamed his name. “Where are you?”

Professional Reviews

Great story just too short
When 10-year-old Andy approaches the condemned house at the edge of the neighborhood, he knows he's asking for trouble. Not only did his mother forbid him to go to the house due to be razed, but also everyone he knows talks about it being the former home of a wicked witch who has since moved to the top of Devil's Mountain. But Andy isn't about to let some sissy warning from his mother or idle town gossip keep him from investigating the house. A simple premise, but author Penny Estelle treats it in a delightful manner that will have even adults eager to find out what happens next.

Author Estelle doesn't hesitate: her book opens right in the middle of the action as readers see Andy on the verge of entering the basement of the dilapidated home from an external entrance. As he investigates suspicious-looking boxes and a furnace missing its door, twelve-year-old Jason and his younger brother, Danny, follow him inside the basement. Jason doesn't hesitate to taunt Andy about being scared; as a new kid in town and the elder son of wealthy parents, Jason tries to exert his superiority over Andy.

Andy, however, isn't about to back down, and the two boys begin to scuffle. Just when the fight comes to its climax, though, Jason disappears, seemingly into thin air--and Andy and Jason's younger brother are left to decide how to get Jason back. The two decide the only way to bring Jason back is by visiting the so-called witch on Devil's Mountain, and that's where the adventure begins.

This short book for young readers packs quite a punch--author Penny Estelle doesn't back down from including twists and turns at every possible chance, and as a result readers will be flipping pages impatiently to know how it all ends. Estelle's prose targets her audience well. Although some of her dialogue may not sound true to life (at certain points it's a little too explanatory and above the age of her target readers,) for the most part she will definitely keep readers engaged.

The only major complaint I have of this book is that it ended too soon, and it is certainly reminiscent of the once-popular "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. A fun afternoon read for adults and possibly a weekend read for younger readers, I wholeheartedly recommend Hike Up Devil's Mountain for fans of good old-fashioned action adventure.

Fun Fast Read for Elementary Kids
Andy Thompson decides to disobey his mother and to actually venture into the old abandoned house that is about to be demolished. His curiosity has gotten the best of him and he just can't help himself. When inside, he comes across a shiny box that has a glowing stick lying inside it. As soon as he takes it out of the box, he is joined by Jason Crew and his little brother Danny. The two are new to town and Jason already has the reputation of being a big bully. The two boys are quite rich and their father is taking over the failing lumberyard in town.

Jason starts picking on Andy, demanding to see the stick that Andy is hiding behind his back. Andy tries to scare off the boys by talking about the legend that the house used to belong to a witch who now lives up on the mountain and still keeps watch over what goes on inside. When the boys start to wrestle over the stick, Andy calls Jason a toad and suddenly he turns into one! No matter what they try, they can't turn Jason back into a boy. Danny decides they need to go seek out the witch who lives up on the mountain, and their crazy adventure really begins.

Hike Up Devil's Mountain by Penny Estelle is cute and full of adventure for elementary-aged readers. The boys encounter all kinds of obstacles as they climb the mountain, sometimes seeming to barely escape with their lives. When they finally find their way to the witch, the boys are faced with a big surprise and Andy learns something new about himself. There is enough action to keep the pages moving quickly. It would work well both as a read-aloud and for independent reading by middle elementary students.

It's an adventure in fantasy and magic and has a small lesson for bullies. It felt a little short, but perhaps could lead to a whole series about Andy and his adventures. I read it on my lunch break and look forward to sharing it with the elementary students in my life.

You'll Actually Pause to Catch Your Breath
Ms. Estelle is a new author to me. When I read the blurb for this book I just had to load it to my Kindle for PC. This book is a quick read filled with vivid imagery that will make you feel like you are actually on this adventure with young Andrew, Danny & Jason.
By the time you reach the top of Devil's Mountain with these boys, your heart will be racing and you'll actually find yourself pausing to catch your breath. This adventure is laced with an underlying lesson on bullying. I encourage parents to load this book to your child's ereader for a whirlwind adventure that will teach them a lesson they will carry with them long after they've read the last page.

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