Hunter Moran Saves the Universe

Hunter Moran Saves the Universe

by Patricia Reilly Giff

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Twins Hunter and Zack have a small problem to solve: they must save their town from a diabolical dentist who is planning to blow it to smithereens. But first they have to hold a funeral for an incriminating report card before it breaks their mother’s heart, hide a cello that has been demolished, and keep their father from finding out what they did to his


Twins Hunter and Zack have a small problem to solve: they must save their town from a diabolical dentist who is planning to blow it to smithereens. But first they have to hold a funeral for an incriminating report card before it breaks their mother’s heart, hide a cello that has been demolished, and keep their father from finding out what they did to his laptop. None of this is going to be easy with their busybody older sister, Linny, watching their every move; older brother, William, just waiting to get them in trouble; five-year-old brother, Steadman, tailing them; and baby Mary banging her spoon like a maniac so no one can think. Before the book is over, a vintage airplane, a hot-air balloon, and a borrowed fire engine will all play parts in the unfolding mystery. This novel is filled with whimsical characters, lots of mischief, and plenty of heart.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
To the ranks of Hilary McKay's irrepressible Cassons and Barbara Robinson's incorrigible Herdmans, Giff (the Zigzag Kids series) adds the Moran clan, who fall into both categories. At the center of the Moran family maelstrom are fifth-grade twins Hunter and Zack, the former narrating this rapid-fire story. The action ?revolves around Hunter's misreading of clues that, to him, expose a neighbor's plot to blow up their town. The twins' attempts to prevent this catastrophe land them in some dicey spots: stranded on a church roof, discovered in the suspect's yard in the middle of the night trying to unearth a buried "bomb," and trapped inside the local monument—a large soup kettle forged by the town's founder. Though Giff's plot is over-the-top, her characterizations give this comedy depth and warmth. Other iconoclastic family members include Steadman, a wise preschooler with a knack for turning up in unexpected places; William, who paints murals throughout the house; and bossy oldest sister, Linny. With Giff as skilled accomplice, the Morans provide delightful entertainment. Ages 8–12. Agent: George Nicholson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Carrie Hane Hung
The escapades of Hunter and his twin brother, Zack, will keep readers on the edge as they move from setting to setting. The duo's summer vacation begins with a major mission of saving the town of Newfield from an explosion. Based on a mysterious phone call and a cryptic note, Hunter concludes that Dr. Diglio, the town dentist, is planning to blow up Newfield soon. Hunter determines that he and Zack will save the day by finding the bomb. However, the twosome attempt to dodge the watchful eyes of their older sister, Linny, who will not hesitate to tell their mother if they stray too far. William, the older brother, is busy painting and wants his phone back from Hunter and Zack. Their younger brother, Steadman, insists on tagging along with the twins. The pair is adventuresome. Readers can't help but like Hunter and Zack because they have good intentions that get tangled up a bit in mischief. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Summer vacation has just begun, but there's no time for leisurely activities for Hunter and Zack. While plotting to bury Zack's less-than-stellar report card, the twins intercept a garbled phone call that, coupled with mysterious notes, causes them to conclude that the local dentist, Dr. Diglio, is plotting to blow up their small town. Hunter feels it is up to him and his brother to save it while simultaneously trying to avoid their ever-present, annoying little brother; stay out of trouble with their parents; and prepare for the annual festival, Tinwitty Day. High jinks ensue that include the boys becoming marooned on the roof of the church and getting trapped inside the giant iron soup kettle in the center of town, all the while trying to evade Sarah Yulefski, who has a crush on Hunter. Giff presents a zany tale with a multitude of characters, but many of them aren't well developed, and some of the incidents are not fully resolved, such as burying the report card. Some readers will find some mild chuckles here, but most will see through the transparent "bomb plot," leaving them disappointed.Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA
Kirkus Reviews
On the first day of vacation, when rising sixth-grader Hunter Moran intercepts a phone call he interprets as a bomb plot, he sets out with his twin brother, Zack, to save the town of Newfield. With imaginations fueled by TV shows, Hunter and Zack weave various bits of evidence into an elaborate hypothesis about the nefarious activities of the dentist down the street. As middle children in a large, active family, their investigations are hampered by the watchful eyes of an older brother and sister and the constant attention of their tag-along 5-year-old brother, Steadman. Hunter's brash first-person voice is convincing. He's barely aware of the improbable trail of destruction he and his brothers leave behind. In the four days leading up to the Tinwitty Night celebration, they find themselves stranded next door on the slate roof of St. Ursula's church, covered with the contents of Vinny Moochmore's compost pile and trapped inside the great iron soup kettle in the town center. All this occurs before Hunter's climactic balloon ride. Cell phones and laptops are part of their modern world, but the children's freedom to investigate the mystery of Dr. Diglio's buried box is reminiscent of earlier, less-supervised times and traditional small-town life. The boys' exaggerated escapades make for an appealing read-aloud as well as a successful summer read. (Fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)
550L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

What People are saying about this

With a wry blend of mystery and farce, fifth-grader Hunter describes the crazy goings-on in his small town over a summer. After Hunter helps his twin, Zack, alter his report card (“just a simple change” from an F to an A for music appreciation, so as not to upset Mom) and then tries to bury the evidence, the brothers discover something odd buried in their local dentist's backyard. Is it a bomb? What does the weird message on Mom's phone mean about the “original” missing from the church? The twins' four siblings are no help; in fact, they are more trouble. So is Zack's cello teacher, who hides her sweet, slobbering dog in a shopping bag when she goes to the library. . . . Readers will enjoy Hunter's take on the local slapstick events and, especially, the universal conflicts at home.

Meet the Author

Patricia Reilly Giff has received the Newbery Honor for Pictures of Hollis Woods and Lily's Crossing, which is also a Boston Globe—Horn Book Honor Book. Nory Ryan's Song was named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and an ALA Notable Book.

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