Fans of Erin Entrada Kelly's Hello, Universe and Melissa Savage's own Lemons will devour this voice-driven novel packed with humor and heart about two friends who head off on an adventure to find the Loch Ness Monster.
Ada Ru finally thought her parents were going to agree to a Fitzhugh family vacation in Disney World the summer before sixth grade, until her father announces he's taking a teaching position in Scotland, and moving the family there for the entire summer.
Ada Ru is anything but happy. She doesn't like their new home, she hates haggis, and she certainly doesn't like the idea that she will be away from her best friend all summer. To top it all off, there is said to be a monster in the lake near their house!
That's when she meets Hamish Bean Timmy, Hammy Bean for short, captain of the Nessie Quest Monster Chaser boat tour. He knows everything there is to know about the fabled Loch Ness Monster and Scotland. But as the two unlikely friends embark on an epic adventure to spot the lake monster, they end up discovering more than they ever could have imagined.---from the publisher
352 pages 978-0525645672 Ages 8-12
Keywords: adventure, family, summer, friends, friendship, drug addiction, relationship, mystery, detective, secrets, blindness, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old
Ada Ru is NOT happy when her parents tell her she isn't able to stay at home with her best friend in Denver during summer break, and it's not because they are going to Disney World. Instead, the father is teaching a photography class in Scotland, and Ada and her mother are going along so they can visit the father's family, Uncle Clive, Aunt Isla, and annoying cousin Briony.
The university housing is in a creepy old building with an even creepier caretaker, Euna Begbie. Since the town where they are living is small and located on a loch where Nessie has been spotted in the past, it's at least a little bit interesting to wander around.
She manages to meet Hamish Bean Tibby, Hammy Bean to his friends, who works with his grandmother giving boat tours of the loch to tourists. He's also home schooled by Ms. Begbie because he is blind. She also meets Dax, another American spending the summer in Scotland. Dax is cute and angsty, and carries his guitar everywhere with him. The three team up to help Hammy with the Nessie Race and also in publishing his Nessie Juggernaut, which his a bit outdated, so they also work on creating a podcast with the same information.
Ada gets to meet lots of locals while interviewing various residents about their Nessie experiments, and comes to think that Scotland is not too bad. There is some friend drama with Dax (involving Briony) and Hammy (involving secrets about his parents), as well as some suspense when Hammy makes some bad decisions when upping the level of his investigations. In the end, however, devotion to cryptozoology wins the day, and Ada is sad to be leaving her summer location.
Strengths: Scotland! This is a much less stressful vacation to that locale than Schwab's City of Ghosts, and who doesn't want to spend a summer lakeside? The inclusion of a sight impaired character and explanations about how he does certain tasks was interesting. The possible romance with Dax is fun, and the drama with Briony on point. The local restaurants are the real star for some of this for me, but younger readers will love the freedom to wander that the characters have. I don't have a lot of students interested in cryptids, but there are usually a few, so this is a good title for the long haul.
Weaknesses: I'm never fond of children who don't want to go to fantastic places, so Ada really irritated me during the beginning of the book. There's also a bit more dialect than I enjoy reading.
What I really think: While I enjoyed this one, I fear it won't be a big circulator. I will probably purchase, justifying this as a title readers might pick up after reading Martin's fantastic Hoax for Hire.
Recommended by: Karen Yingling, LIbrarian, Ohio USA
See more of her recommendations: msyinglingreads.blogspot.com