Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wednesday Review: Fun 4 Hire

Hello, everybody!  Welcome to another edition of The Wednesday Review.  Today's topic is:

Book One in the Fun 4 Hire Series
Introduction: The Water Fight Professional is book one in a new series of middle grade books* about well-meaning trouble-maker Joey Michaels.  It's summer time, and Joey is trying to make money by getting people to pay him to throw water balloons at their enemies.  It's a risky business, especially when Joey makes a bet with his best friend about how much money he can make.  Can he win the bet, or will his annoying little sister and the obnoxious neighbor girl ruin everything?

My Review:  I read a lot of middle grade fiction, but on the surface, The Water Fight Professional doesn't look like the kind of book I'd be much interested in.  It's not terribly long, there's nothing life-or-death at stake, it's in first person, and the writing is fairly breezy.  Nothing wrong with any of those things, but they do tend to go against my personal tastes.  Imagine my surprise, then, when I absolutely loved this little gem of a book.

That breezy, first person writing is deceptively simple.  Author Angela Ruth Strong does a fantastic job of getting inside Joey's head and portraying him as a fun, regular guy.  You can't not like this kid.  This is important because, although the stakes may not be the fate of the wizarding world, they are very high to Joey.

The book is published by Ashberry Lane,** which is a Christian small press, but Strong doesn't hit readers over the head with the spiritual aspect of things - it's never really center stage, but is very naturally integrated into the story.  So here we have a pretty normal boy living a pretty normal life and dealing with his faith in a corresponding manner.  Very well-done.

There are a couple more books already in the series:

Book 2

Book 3

I don't know how many books will be in the series when it's all said and done, but I've read these first three and have been happy to see that the series incorporates the passage of time very well.  We get to see Joey learn and grow over time, so it's not a cookie-cutter series with all the same plot and character arcs repeated over and over again; it's theme and variation.

I think this is a particularly good series for boys, especially if they aren't huge readers yet - it's very approachable and easy to read.  And it's a lot of fun.

Copyright: 2014
Publisher: Ashberry Lane
Length: 168 pages
Genre/Age: Middle Grade

My rating: 4.5 stars

*Middle Grade books typically appeal to kids aged 8-12.  And me.

**That's how I found out about these books.  I do some editing for Ashberry Lane, and when I first started I went on their website to see what else they had published.

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