The Summer of the Bonepile Monster

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This first novel serves up a flabby horror-story plot alongside a flimsy lesson in self-reliance. Hollis and his sister spend a suspenseful season at their great-grandmother's house in rural Alabama while their parents try to ``work things out'' at home (the reader never does learn what the parents decide); meanwhile, Hollis investigates the Bonepile Hollow, a place filled with the bones of prehistoric whales (or ``zeuglodons''). ``Nothing that goes down that road [to the Hollow] ever comes out,'' he is warned. The ``monster'' of the haunted forest is all too human; Hollis receives a further shock when he learns of his own family's involvement in the small-town nightmare. Henderson throws in a surprising amount of violence while paying short shrift to plausibility, and the connection between the Bonepile horror and Hollis's anguish about his parents remains tenuous. Ages 8-12. (May)
Yates Walton
It is with heavy hearts that Hollis and Lou go to Grancy's house in the country for the summer; they are going because their parents need time to work on their ailing marriage. Hollis' worries ebb, however, with Grancy's lengthy list of daily chores and the unraveling of the mystery of Bonepile Hollow--a "black plague place" where nothing that goes in ever comes out. Over the summer he makes friends (human and animal), gathers clues in a journal, and finally unmasks the "monster" of Bonepile Hollow--a family member crazed with greedy protectiveness over the fossils in the hollow. Hollis' transformation from a fearful, downcast city boy into a courageous, self-reliant young man is gradual and subtle enough to be believed. Slowly his world expands beyond his shaky nuclear family to include more relatives, friends, and interests. Henderson's creepy descriptions and exquisite stinginess with information keep the mystery simmering alongside an affecting, unclicheed story of a family in crisis. Winner of the Milkweed Prize for Children's Literature
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