I read Raymond and Graham's summer camp adventure book, (
Raymond and Graham: Cool Campers
), and enjoyed it very much. The two fourth graders have an excellent relationship - best friends who are loyal, supportive and honest with each other, and who encourage each other in the kind of knuckleheaded mayhem unique to fourth graders. I wondered if the entire series was as rewarding, and especially if this first book in the series, which is where most people would start, fairly reflects the appeal of these two guys. I am happy to report that what you get is what I hoped for - an engaging kid buddy comedy with humor, antics, a few revealed truths, and a happy ending. The entire book is tightly constructed, precisely observed, sharply written, and filled with generous and good-humored insight.
This book is not really very plot driven. Raymond and Graham are starting fourth grade and are planning, as the oldest elementary students, to "rule the school". Needless to say things don't work out that way. After numerous setbacks, missteps and small humiliations, which they usually fix, work around, or ignore, most of the various plot strands come together and wrap up nicely at the end. (While there are NO SPOILERS HERE, it is fair to say that there are at least a dozen set pieces along the way that honestly qualify as laugh-out-loud funny.)
What really drives this book is Raymond's narration and the conversations between Raymond and Graham. Do they sound like authentic fourth graders? Of course not. They sound like the smartest, funniest, driest, most insightful and most deadpan fourth graders you could imagine, channeled through the mind and the pen of a gifted author. Raymond has enough of the feel of a real kid, and his thoughts and experiences are translated to such an authentic kid level, that you believe you are peeking into his head and eavesdropping on his conversations with Graham and with all of his fourth grade friends. That is one heck of a trick for a writer to pull off.
I would think that a young reader would immediately like Raymond and Graham, would be amused by their banter and their antics, and would absorb some of the insight and wisdom from which they have been molded. I can't think of anything more that I would want from an elementary level book. It doesn't hurt that in these books parents are understanding and supportive, teachers know what they are doing, adults generally are dependable, and virtue ends up being rewarded - all without irony or even a hit of preachiness. A nice, warm find.
Please note that I found this book while browsing the local library's Kindle books, and downloaded it for free. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.