Reviews for Crunch

Booklist Reviews 2010 April #1
It's crunch time for the Mariss family. When a critical national fuel shortage strands their vacationing parents far from home, it's up to Dewey (14) and older sister Lil (18) to serve as surrogate parents to their three younger siblings. Dewey draws double duty, however, because he must also manage the family's bike-repair shop, and as people have no choice but to rely on bikes for transportation, business is booming. This is mostly manageable until someone throws a figurative sprocket wrench into the spokes by stealing from the shop's inventory! Is it the creepy old geezer who lives next door? Or maybe the nice young man who's befriended the family? Or . . . ? Well, it's a mystery, for sure, but clever Dewey contrives a plan to discover the culprit. The element of uncertainty keeps the pages turning while Connor addresses a timely issue--America's dependence on fossil fuels--that will provoke classroom discussion and invite further reading. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
When a severe fuel shortage strands their parents, the five Marriss children hold down the fort--and the family's bike business. With fewer cars on the highway, the now-growing shop is about to overrun the kids' abilities. Connor's narrative ambles pleasantly along; a feel-good denouement brings the community together, with neighbors willing to learn how to help themselves and others. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #4
With their parents stuck up north because of a severe fuel shortage-"pumps are dry clear across the country"-the five Marriss children must hold down the fort at home. At first, they're just keeping on keeping on, with each day seeming like the one before: fourteen-year-old narrator Dewey takes the five-year-old twins to summer camp each day, allowing older sister Lil to attend art school, then Dewey and thirteen-year-old Vince make the few simple repairs for the family's sideline bike business. But soon the days change dramatically. At first there are fewer trucks and cars on the highway; then there are none. Grocery store shelves empty out; a few petty thefts occur; and the now-growing bike business is about to overrun the Marriss boys' abilities, time, and supplies. Overwhelmed, Dewey changes from a happy-go-lucky kid to a Type A personality. But in Connor's ultimately upbeat novel, this element of discord is short-lived. Like a pleasant bicycle jaunt during the lazy days of summer, the narrative ambles along, providing a glimpse of the literary countryside of mystery, speculative fiction, social commentary, and character development, but never stopping very long at any one spot. A feel-good denouement, as spectacular as a Busby Berkeley musical finale, brings the small community together, neighbors willing to learn how to help themselves and others, and, finally, even the return home of Mom and Dad. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 April #2
Readers are thrust immediately into the trials and tribulations of 14-year-old Dewey Mariss and his family. His parents are away from home, unable to return because of a gasoline shortage. Running their small family business, the Bike Barn, with his younger brother and helping older sister Lil look after the five-year-old twins keeps Dewey plenty busy, especially since the shortage means that more people are depending on their bicycles. Throw in a sneaky thief, a cranky neighbor, some miscellaneous farm animals and a few minor adventures, and there's plenty to fill the 300-plus pages. Connor keeps things moving merrily along, however, and readers will enjoy going along for the (brisk) ride. Characters are colorful but believable, dialogue crisp and amusing. The New England setting is attractively realized, and the underlying energy crisis treated seriously but not sensationally. Perhaps things wrap up a mite too tidily, but Dewey deserves a break, and the whole family is so engaging that anything less than the happy ending would be disappointing indeed. Charming and original. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2010 May

Gr 5-8--Mom and Dad take an annual anniversary drive up the New England coast for a week, and this year, they let 18-year-old Lil and 14-year-old Dewey hold down the fort while they're gone. In an all-too-plausible scenario, though, the national fuel shortage hits crunch level, and there is no gasoline to be had. For the first several days that their parents are stranded near the Canadian border, nobody panics: the older kids get the five-year-old twins to summer camp each day, and Dewey and his younger brother, Vince, keep their dad's bicycle-repair shop running smoothly. But when cars can't run, the townspeople rely on bikes, and as days turn into weeks, Dewey is overwhelmed with the number of repairs coming in and with the parental responsibilities that he and Lil are sharing. And when parts start disappearing and it becomes evident that a petty thief is on the loose, things get even more complicated. Not wanting to worry their parents or admit that they are in over their heads, Dewey and Lil initially resist efforts by neighbors to help. It is only when things reach the breaking point that they both come to realize that there is no shame in trusting in others. While Connor has created a cast of quirky characters and a timely dilemma, she never fully engages readers the way she did in Waiting for Normal (HarperCollins, 2008). Even with Dewey's first-person narration, relationships come across as a little too good to be true, and the story never quite loses a subtle hint of didacticism.--Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

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