My Review of Panther Creek Mountain
Panther Creek Mountain Cover
I recently won a copy of Clyde McCulley’s middle grade novel, Panther Creek Mountain: The Big Adventure, as part of a giveaway hosted by Segilola Salami on her podcast: http://www.segilolasalami.co.uk/. As a middle grade writer myself, I’m always curious to see what types of stories other middle grade writers are coming up with. MuCulley drew on his childhood experiences to craft the first story in this series about three kids’ adventures on the mountain on which they live. Below is a summary and my review of the book below.
Brothers Clay and Luke along with their cousin, Sally Jane, live on Panther Creek Mountain and are determined to spend their summer having as many adventures as possible. Together, they run their own bath house and hot dog stand, hang out in their clubhouse, build their own river raft and go-cart, and even make the news for flying parachutes off their mountain. The kids are adventurous, clever, and even rambunctious, but they also look out for each other and always try to do the right thing, like surviving a tornado, dodging a train, and saving a raccoon from being shot when they discover it is the mother of a litter of baby raccoons. By the end of the summer, the kids are full of stories, closer to buying new bikes, and unwilling to see it all come to an end as school starts again.
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This book is an homage to author Clyde McCulley’s childhood growing up in the mountains of Arkansas. You can feel a pride in the way the author describes the setting and lifestyle of the McDougal family and their mountain living. The characters speak with a southern drawl and sayings that will educate young readers about the culture and times. The language is simple, making it an easy read for younger readers. There are also occasional drawings scattered throughout the pages to illustrate what’s going on in the story.
Each chapter features a different adventure, separating the main story into several short stories chronicling this particular summer. There is no main conflict. Each adventure comes with its own conflicts and challenges. Some are a great success, and some don’t work out so well. In this way, it follows a Laura Ingalls Wilder narrative, though the kids themselves even say that they long to write a book one day in the style of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that this book takes place in the 1950’s. Because the families live so primitively in such a remote location, they don’t have modern conveniences, such as electricity and traditional plumbing, but the family wouldn’t have it any other way. Their limitations require them to get creative at times, especially when trying to figure out how to run water to their makeshift bath house and heat it so that it is warm. These moments can help modern-day readers appreciate their numerous conveniences while showing them how to have fun and solve problems without those conveniences.