From School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Cooper, 11, searches for treasures in his upstate New York town to sell at the antique store that he runs with his mom. Ever since his little brother, Tanner, died and his father left, his mother has been unable to do much except read books about antiques. Cooper acts as man of the house, but he still talks to his bike, his stuffed animals, and most inanimate objects. And they talk back to him. One day he uses a metal detector to explore his backyard, which abuts a state park commemorating the Battle of Newtown. He stumbles upon the battlefield itself with musket balls, cannons, and many other artifacts. Now the city wants to take over their land. He feels like his mother can't make the right decision, and he is determined that no one is going to take away his home. In the end, he realizes that the whole community is behind him and wants to preserve the history of the area as well as his home. This book is mostly description and would need a special kind of reader who is completely fascinated by this era in history or has a connection to the area. Details of the battle and the part that the Iroquois tribes played in the Revolutionary War are accurate and extensive. The characters, though, are unlikely to draw readers into the story. The end also becomes muddled since it is unclear if Cooper has supernatural talent or if the fantastical bits are all part of his imagination. An interesting look at the history of a community, but not for everyone.-Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Eleven-year-old Cooper and his mom are apparently living on the site of a significant 1779 Revolutionary War confrontation between the Americans and the British, as well as the redcoats’ Iroquois allies. When Cooper and his metal detector unearth treasures, including two cannons, it will take a whole town to protect them from the loss of their home. Cooper narrates his own coming-of-age story, which deals with a dysfunctional family situation (parental depression and the loss of a sibling) as much as it does treasure hunting, ghosts, and American history. Cooper himself is complex as well—though not always convincingly so—as he tells a rather literal tale that includes imaginary conversations with inanimate objects that have too-cute names like Mr. Maybox (mailbox) or Decto (a french fry–eating metal detector). There are also a couple of brushes with the “wise Indian” Native American stereotype as Cooper learns about his Iroquois heritage. Despite these issues, Cooper is oddly engaging, but this character-driven story may require a bit of hand-selling to find its true audience. Grades 4-7. --Cindy Welch