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Summer of the Woods (The Virginia Mysteries) Paperback – May 11, 2013
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"My son loves your books (is currently on #3 and we just bought them a month ago - for him it's a major step). He finished book #1 that night. He has never read a book in that short of time. The second book he finished right after we got back from vacation. Thanks for all you do and for these amazing stories that has my son loving to read now!" - Michigan parent
About the Author
Steven K. Smith writes The Virginia Mysteries, a middle grade adventure series with a twist of history. Steven lives in Richmond, Virginia, with his wife, three sons, and a golden retriever named Charlie. Born and raised in rural northwestern New Jersey, he moved to Virginia in 2011 and quickly fell in love with its history and charm. You can find him at MyBoys3.com, where he blogs about the adventures of raising three young boys. When he's not writing, Steven works in e-healthcare and enjoys coaching his boys in sports, hiking and camping, photography, and taking naps. Some of his favorite children's books include Where the Red Fern Grows, Rascal, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Bridge to Terabithia, and the Chronicles of Narnia series.
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Top Customer Reviews
As if by magic, Mr. Smith presents the perfect combination of nostalgia and modern day. This exemplifies the summers I remember. Freely roaming all around, turning over rocks in creeks, exploring woods and caves while our imaginations provided limitless adventures. Kids being kids. Good times, good stuff.
On the other hand, there are some pretty cool tools that we, as parents, have today, that I bet my folks would have welcomed. Google. Oh, how I love Google, as a mom. Kids will always be curious, and the "new" advantage of quickly answering their questions with information and pictures at your fingertips allows their little minds to just keep going and going. Which is why they are so darn smart, as brilliantly demonstrated in this story.
Two young boys move to Richmond, Virginia; into a large, old house, backed by woods and a winding creek. So, yes, I am a bit biased, but only because Mr. Smith captures the essence of my home so accurately and vividly. In no time at all, young Sam finds an old wheat penny, which leads them to the discovery of the legendary mystery. Supposedly, a valuable and rare coin collection was stolen from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts many, many years ago and was never recovered. As all good boys would do, the brothers make it their mission to solve the crime and recover the treasure. What follows is a classic adventure that you simply must experience.
I admit that I went into this book with high expectations. Not only was I not disappointed, but I was quite surprised to find so many things that I love about this book. The dialogue and teasing among the family is spot-on. The mystery was fun, interesting, and authentic. The boys' emotions and actions are more than credible---these are typical 8 and 10 year old boys. The story flowed so smoothly that I actually read this in one sitting, although that wasn't my plan when I picked it up.
Sidebar: For the 3rd consecutive year, all of the students in my son's elementary school (K-5) will be reading the same book, at the same time, with their families. The first year was E.B. White's The Trumpet of the Swan and last year was George Selden's The Cricket in Times Square. Both books were fine, but not necessarily captivating. Neither The Boy nor I had any desire to quickly seek out more books by these authors (because I had already read Charlotte's Web about 100 times). Summer of the Woods is this year's book. Yes, I cheated. I read ahead, and on my own. I am not even sorry. But, there is one issue that I foresee. With the other two books it was very easy to read one chapter each day and then put the book down. I don't see that being the case with this page-turner; but, as a reader, I honestly can't see that as a bad thing.
I can't wait to see what the kids think of this story, and I'm already very excited about Mr. Smith's next book: Mystery on Church Hill.
We were so fortunate to have Mr. Smith come speak to our school in small groups. He captivated the students and gave them great advice on crafting their own stories. I especially loved that he spoke to my students much as I imagine he would speak to Derek and Sam. It was evident that he respects the insights and ingenuity of children, which I imagine is why his books are so enchanting. If you can manage to have him speak to your group, you will be find the audience enthralled by his humor and earnest love for writing for children. If that is not possible, read the book; it may just inspire you to look for your own adventure.
Kristen Hebert, BWE parent of two children and PTA President