cover image Fort


Cynthia DeFelice. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-374-32427-8

Three pairs of buddies are the principal players in DeFelice’s straightforward story: 11-year-old Wyatt and his summer pal Augie, Augie’s Uncle Heindel and auto-parts-shop/junkyard owner Al, and older bullies J.R. and Morrie. City boy Wyatt spends summers in upstate New York with his father, whose college teaching schedule keeps him conveniently on the sidelines, giving Wyatt and Augie plenty of time for biking, fishing, hunting squirrels, and exploring the woods, where they build a fort using materials from Al’s junkyard. Protecting the fort soon becomes a challenge: is it a local mentally disabled teenager or J.R. and Morrie who are vandalizing it? DeFelice (Wild Life) smoothly advances the plot to a satisfying climax and conclusion, while engagingly developing the relationship between Wyatt, Augie, and the older men, whose low-key support provides just the right amount of guidance for this adventuresome, good-hearted, but never goody-goody pair. Wyatt is a sympathetic narrator with a realistic blend of thoughtfulness and daring; DeFelice’s secondary characters are well developed and add pleasing dimension to this summer tale. Ages 8–12. (May)