Dog Gone ) second novel nicely weaves a few familiar tropes into an entertaining and intense tale. Twelve-year-old Joey has the talent to be an ama"/>

Buck Fever

Cynthia Chapman Willis, Author . Feiwel and Friends $16.99 (228p) ISBN 978-0-312-38297-1

Willis's (Dog Gone ) second novel nicely weaves a few familiar tropes into an entertaining and intense tale. Twelve-year-old Joey has the talent to be an amazing hunter: he's a great shot and, thanks to an ear infection that left him partially deaf, his sense of smell borders on the super-human. His father, an avid hunter, expects Joey to bring down his first buck during deer season, but Joey is more interested in playing hockey and drawing. With Joey's mother constantly out of the country on business trips, Joey struggles to tell his father that he doesn't want to shoot a deer, as well as whether to enter the art show his neighbor and mentor, Mrs. Davies, is pushing him toward. Subplots revolving around illegal hunting tactics and a creepy neighbor eventually merge into Joey's story, leading to a tense and dangerous climax. Willis avoids easy answers, clichés, and moralizing, instead focusing on Joey's inner struggle and the stress his mother's absence causes. The result is a satisfying novel filled with solid characters who learn the consequences of making some hard choices. Ages 9–13. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 11/16/2009
Release date: 10/01/2009
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