From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8–Eleven-year-old Tom Hammond lives with his widowed mother in a windblown old house chained to the top of a gigantic rock. One night, unable to sleep, he heads down to the stream that borders their property, where he has left a heavy piece of refrigerator packing foam. What starts out as aimless drifting down quiet water turns deadly when Tom's foam slab feeds into the rougher mountain water and he is pulled under a rock, ending up in an underwater cavern. The secrets he discovers while attempting to find his way out of the mountain caves are surprising, yet seamlessly executed. While Leepike Ridge
is primarily an adventure story involving murder, treachery, and betrayal, Wilson's rich imagination and his quirky characters are a true delight. Tom's feisty mother will not believe that her son has drowned despite the evidence to the contrary, and her run-ins with various townspeople are jewels in themselves. There are enough twists and turns in the plot to keep both seasoned and reluctant readers turning the pages. Think Mark Twain with a contemporary and utterly captivating twist.–Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
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Fleeing the possibility of a new stepfather, 11-year-old Tom Hammond washes downriver into a series of caves that contain a few dead bodies; Reg, a man who has been trapped inside for three years; mysterious carvings; and no apparent way out. Outside, on their mountaintop, his grieving mother, threatened by treasure hunters, continues to search for him. Tom's adventures have several literary ancestors, including Tom and Huck in the cave, and the inventive Swiss Family Robinson, but this is solidly set in the present, standing on its own with well-crafted suspense and fascinating survival detail. Underlying the story is the possibility that explorers from ancient civilizations arrived in North America long before Columbus, a theory certain to interest middle-grade readers. They will also relish the physicality of the journey: underwater swims, tight passages, and rock climbing as Tom, Reg, and a found dog search for an exit. A crotchety neighbor and a group of local thugs add to the tension of this appealing and easy-to-booktalk package. Isaacs, Kathleen Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved