From Stand by Me to Stranger Things, youth-oriented action-adventures have proven to be a particularly effective vehicle for examining the strained and evolving relationships between young people at critical junctures in their lives. A new and highly enjoyable addition to the genre, Shannon Greenland’s Scouts, takes place in the summer of 1985 and tells the story of five soon-to-be 7th graders (Anna, Beans, Rocky, Fynn, and Scarlett) who sneak from their homes one evening to watch a meteor shower. The young friends’ original destination is the top of the towering silo on Old Man Basinger’s dairy farm, but when one of the meteors appears to crash into the countryside nearby, they strike out together to find the debris. In the process, they make a dangerous moonlit river crossing, scale trees to escape a hungry bear, stumble upon a human skeleton while descending into a cave, hide from a military unit who is also investigating the meteor landing, and fall into the clutches of the Mason Gang, a group of disreputable moonshiners who, according to local legend, kill and eat children. In between their daring adventures and narrow escapes, the young friends begin to experience the first sparks of attraction toward the opposite sex, along with the jealousy, resentment, and misunderstanding that often accompany these new feelings. At the end of the tale, the young explorers renew their strained friendships and, with the help of Anna’s father, discover the meaning of the mysterious silver balls that they find in the fields near the meteor crash. Engagingly narrated by voice actress Kathleen McInnerney, Scouts is a consistently entertaining adventure and an insightful portrayal of the fears and anxieties of early adolescence.
Duration: 5 hours, 11 minutes
David Shirley ©2019 Parents’ Choice
David Shirley’s recent nonfiction titles include A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park and Fix It Leroy! His YA biographies, Every Day I Sing the Blues: The Story of B. B. King and Satchel Paige: Baseball Legend were honored as the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens.