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Madame Charmaine (The Sheldon Beasley Series) Paperback – October 17, 2013
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About the Author
David Tish is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist who has won numerous writing awards. He is a Nebraska native and a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He has four sons and nine grandchildren, and he lives on an acreage near Tieton, Washington, with his wife, Mary, and their four dogs.
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This retired businessman and 74-year old author states that he writes books for 9 to 13 year olds to help him keep a young attitude in addition to his strong physical health. That seems reasonable to me.
Madame Charmaine is a quick and easy 66-page read involving an adventure starring Chante, Nebraska preteens Sheldon Beasley, Jimmy Blaze, Bull Evenshot and Tabby Moore. In June 1961 they discovered an old rusty padlocked trunk that they expected to contain a treasure.
After building a raft, they successfully floated their "treasure chest" some 3 miles downriver to the old abandoned Swanson farm where they planned to saw through the lock to get to their bounty. The trip was not without dangerous suspense. Tripping over some roots, Sheldon and Jimmy lost their hold on their tow ropes jarring Bull off the raft disappearing into the river's swift current where the other two boys feared he had drowned.
Recovering the trunk, the friends discovered its strange bounty where they discovered it was probably set afloat about that time of the previous year's Pancake Days Carnival. Several clues put the youngsters' investigation on course for a dangerous confrontation with circus workers who may have been responsible for a murder.
In spite of their fear, the preteens press an investigation that will put their lives in peril.
This short story was an interesting, fun and entertaining read that I think most of the author's targeted readers will enjoy.
Clearly, many of the characters developed in this tale will be a part of future short stories in this series.
Part One of what author David Tish calls "The Sheldon Beasley Series" (which I have not read), MADAME CHARMAINE begins with Sheldon's awakening on the first day of summer vacation. Excited by the prospect of a summer away from school, eleven-year old Sheldon rushes out with his pal Jimmy to team up with fellow companion Bull--and eventually their mutual female friend Tabby--to gaze upon a mysterious find left behind by recent flood waters: a locked and extremely heavy metal chest.
But, as they are soon to find out, every action has consequences, and when they decide to move it downriver so they can keep the find to themselves, they very nearly drown. And when they finally do succeed in opening the chest its strange contents--and especially the mysterious circumstances surrounding it--will lead them down a strange and ultimately dangerous path toward discovery.
MADAME CHARMAINE is quite definitely a Young Adult novel, yet parents can be assured that teens and pre-teens will enjoy the story equally. There are some dangerous activities that take place within, and some cultural discussions of characterizations like "white trash," but I think most parents would agree that the story is really intended for all. There is no profanity, nothing of a sexual nature, and the young boys and girl are treated as equals within the pages.
For instance, one of the children is a stutterer, and that "handicap" is handled with fairness and politeness, even grace, as that character turns in some of the most crucial and inspirational portions of the story. I found this to be a story told with even-handedness and respect, so these issues should be looked at as definite "pluses."
The nearest example I can think of that might provide a parallel to the story would be Stephen King's novella "The Body" (made into a terrific movie called STAND BY ME, with River Phoenix and Wil Wheaton), but the action and intensity in those two works is much more intense than takes place here. This is a much more G-rated tale, and parents--as I noted before--should not expect the intensity of those works in this instance. But the parallel is alike in other regards, such as mixing humor and drama, and there is even a pancake-eating contest that bears some parallels with the pie-eating contest in those works...but again, there is no "adult" language or vulgarity here other than an occasional "Jeez" or "shut up!"
I found MADAME CHARMAINE quite interesting and, while it is a bit short, prospective readers can be assured that it is more a matter of being concise and unadorned by extraneous material. It moves along quickly and keeps the reader interested, even captivated, throughout. There were times I did not want to put it down, and that's the mark of a well-told tale. Young readers (and their parents) will enjoy it, so much that parents should be prepared: I can only assume they will want to rush off to read the rest of the Sheldon Beasley series once they do.
Definitely recommend! I was provided this ebook in exchange of a fair and honest review.