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Monday, July 30, 2012

Applewhites at Wit's End, written by Stephanie Tolan. Harper, 2012. $17.99 ages 10 and up

"Jake, as a staff member, ought to at least try to stop the roughhousing, she thought now. But he didn't. In fact, he tended to participate. If somebody punched him, he invariably punched back. What had the family been thinking of to make their resident juvenile delinquent a member of the staff?"

 In this sequel to Surviving the Applewhites, the quirky, humorous family is facing the loss of their home due to money mismanagement. What will they do to save it?

Randolph, father and creative genius, thinks he has happened on just the right plan to ensure the mortgage payments are made. They will turn their home, and its outbuildings and land, into a summer camp. Only creative children need apply and all disciplines will be considered. Jake, who was cast in the last book as Rolf in their production of The Sound of Music will be the singing coach. E.D. reprises her role as scheduler extraordinaire, always counted on for her formidable talent for order in a very chaotic household. Everyone must play a part in making Eureka! a bold success.

When the campaign to attract campers goes out, there is great hope for twelve campers. When only six apply, there are concerns; but, the show must go on. As the campers begin to arrive, we sense that events will not play out as expected. Creative and artistic children are often as emotional and fiery as their adult counterparts. Add to the diverse temperaments, a murky, muddy pond, fearsome goats, a dead possum on the side of the road, and a series of menacing missives meant to threaten the future of the camp, and you've got a story that will hold your attention and leave you with great respect for a family that works together for the greater good. Never certain about their father's grandiose plans, they are always ready to pull together to make them work. In doing so, they create a supportive and generous community for their young protegees.

E.D. and Jake do the detective work it takes to find the source of the government rules and regulations, to confront the man who keeps showing up with a clipboard and a air of suspicion about the workings of the camp, and to gather the troops to bring the threat to their home and happiness to an end.

It's good to meet up with old friends! They are back, and so familiar that you just want to hug them.

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