by Lisa Bullard
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing
Rife with witty repartee, Turn Left at the Cow is seriously entertaining! Middle grade readers will love sarcastic Travis and the acid tongue of Iz. Well developed characters and an old mystery will draw readers in and keep them reading. Lisa Bullard is spot on with her tween dialog and snarky sarcasm.
Set in rural Minnesota, city boy Travis feels out of it. There's no big city out here. There are cows. And dirt roads. And heads made out of butter. And all kinds of funky meat that's been in his grandmother's freezer for eons. The only reason Travis is in Minnesota at all is that he knows he's not wanted in California now that his mom has married Dale, his new step-dad. Travis goes in search of his real father's roots, and runs away to his grandmother in "Old-McDonald ville."
Neighbor kids Kenny and Iz tell Travis that his father was a bank robber who stole money and hid it somewhere near the town before he disappeared. Travis wonders if his real father is alive. Maybe he went into hiding somewhere. Travis is desperate for answers and grills his grandmother for them. Speaking with her is like speaking to a brick wall; she doesn't want to tell him anything about his own father. Travis decides to go along with Kenny and Iz on their "treasure hunt." He wants to find the missing bank money as badly as they do, hoping that it will give him answers about his presumed dead father.
The unlikely trio start digging for clues and are soon find themselves in danger. Someone else is looking for that money and that someone will do anything to find it first. Travis is questioned by the police when he shops at the local store. Someone is using marked money from the bank robbery, and the police think Travis found the money and is spending it. Why is that money suddenly showing up in town? Travis knows he didn't find the money, but just who did? And why are they spending it? To throw blame on Travis?
When Travis is threatened, the three kids work together to trap the real bank robber. Travis suspects his own grandmother may be involved, but he's afraid to confront her.
This book will resonate with middle grades and middle school readers and will entertain reluctant readers.
Highly, highly recommended grade 5-up.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.
This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)