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Alligators Overhead Paperback – June 29, 2012
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Top customer reviews
MILD PLOT SPOILERS. Our hero Pete is an orphan, (parents died in a plane crash), who is living with Aunt Lizzie, his Mom's sister. Pete has been uprooted from the big city to live in nowhere-ville with Lizzie, on the edge of Ornofree Swamp, (which feels like a smaller swampier version of Okefenokee). Pete has a best friend, which helps, but out of boredom and out of resentment over his parents' deaths he is something of a discipline problem, with some mild acting out. The Pete we meet at the beginning of the book isn't very appealing, and one begins to fear that this is going to be a low-key, low stakes "problem" book. Not to worry.
Early on the book takes off when a house that disappeared a hundred years before suddenly reappears right smack next to Lizzie's house. "O.K.", you say; this is starting to pick up steam. In short order we learn the history of the disappeared/reappeared house, we go exploring the haunted mystery house, and we find out that there's a lot of magic and witchy stuff going on around the neighborhood. We also lose Pete-the-bad-boy and start moving into Pete-the-eventual hero territory. From here on there will be more adventure, a task for Pete, a rescue or two, a confrontation with some pretty bland bad guys and a resolution.
As I say, none of this is genre bending, but it is done well, and done with a consistent tone. (That is, it isn't jokey and then grisly and then romantic and then violent and then other-wordly and so on.) This is a mystery quest, self-discovery, hero story set in a magical swamp. The story is told straight up, with no winkiing irony and no attempt to make hip fun of the tale.
Indeed, what seems at first blush to be a bit precious - the active involvement of walking, talking alligators - turns out to be the smartest, most appealing, and most engagingly novel part of the book. Witches need familiars, and having witches who live by a swamp use alligators as familiars is a great idea. The alligators here pretty much steal the show. Different alligator characters come across as wise, funny, regal or at least diverting. The Elder alligator, (they don't like "gator"), passes the James Earl Jones test; if this were an animated film he would be voiced by James Earl Jones. That pretty much says it all.
So, my bottom line is that I would be happy to give this to a younger reader who expressed interest in magical adventure. It is clear, briskly narrated, propped up with a bit of exposition where it might be confusing, populated by recognizable characters, and energized by an alligator angle that works very well. Fine by me.
(Please note that I found this book a while ago while browsing books that were at the time Amazon Kindle freebies. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book, although I did once get a nice comment from the author regarding my review of a different book.)
I love the quirky characters in this book. I never thought I’d be rooting for alligators, but in Alligators Overhead, I did just that. The talking alligators are a hoot. You might find yourself worrying about their welfare, too!
Pete faces one hurdle after another and is constantly surprised by the turn of events and the powers he inherited but never knew about until now. This book is full of suspense, adventure, humor, and twists that engage middle-grade readers. A fun, quirky read!
A modern day Huckaberry Fin. This should become a classic read for all ages. As a teacher and mid grade writer, I recommend this book and will welcome more books from Author, C Lee McKenzie.
Pete should know better than to interfere. Being the problematic scamp that he is, and despite his aunt warning him to stay away, he cannot resist! So he decides to investigate. From this point onwards, there is never a dull moment!
Everything about this story is charming, from the physical description of Pete with his 'angelic curl and devilish lock'; to the quaint phrases, such as 'Weasel saved Pete from going BFB' and 'CrazyWeirdTotallyWhack'; to the names of the tellers, such as Thricewater, Wartgob and Stiltencranz.
The non-stop adventure includes talking alligators, flying doughnuts (LOL), being arrested by the sheriff and chased by hunters!
You've gotta read this one!