cover image Fool's Gold

Fool's Gold

Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $14 (214pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30908-0

Rudy cannot avoid the fact that his best friend, Barney, has grown increasingly close to Tyler, the mildly delinquent boy who recently moved to their small town from L.A. To make matters worse, Tyler is determined that Barney and Rudy join him in a hare-brained scheme to hunt for gold in an abandoned mineshaft. But Rudy is haunted by deep-seated fears stemming from a long forgotten accident. Unexpectedly, the boy's summer becomes a season of self-discovery, as he gains glimpses into the personalities of Barney, Tyler and his two half-sisters and--perhaps more importantly--comes to terms with the cause of his own claustrophobia. Plucky, resourceful Rudy is a likable protagonist--and his story is as ebullient as it is adventurous. Veteran author Snyder displays an easy familiarity with the texture of life in Rudy's ``awesomely quaint and historic California gold-rush town.'' Unfortunately, Rudy may be just too sensitive and articulate to be taken seriously by what is presumably this story's target audience--middle-grade boys. While the sheer multitude of crises in Rudy's life calls to mind the issue-packed stories of Chris Crutcher, this novel never fully achieves the confident grasp of male adolescent zeitgeist that permeates that author's tales. Ages 10-14. (Apr.)