The Pig War by Mark Holtzen
paperback, 146 pages
Published: May 26th, 2012 by CreateSpace
When his parents send him to remote Mobray Island for a summer with his curmudgeonly grandfather, bookish Kell thinks his time is going to be a boring bust. But he and his boisterous sister Grace are quickly drawn into events from the island’s past—The Pig War of 1859. What was The Pig War? Did pigs actually fight? What if Kell and Grace are caught with the buried revolver they've uncovered? And why does their grandfather go fishing without his fishing gear? By summer’s end Kell learns that Mobray Island holds more adventure than he bargained for: shady ancestors, shadier neighbors, and even some discoveries about himself.
The Pig War is a middle grade contemporary adventure about Kell. Kell is sent to stay with his grandfather on a island near the San Juan Islands (or one of them). He doesn't know his grandfather, he'd never met him before and he's upset that he doesn't get to spend his summer doing what he had originally planned. He's very upset about this change in plans and starts things out on a bad note. On top of that his grandfather is not very welcoming or friendly and doesn't say much at all. Kell and his sister Grace are left to find their own adventures each day.
While the story is pretty slow to unfold I found myself enjoying the view (so to speak). I live in the Pacific NW and while I haven't visited the San Juan Islands, I have visited very near them and had a good idea of what the landscape would look like. However, the descriptions are so well done that I actually was able to picture it all very well anyway.
The mystery was a tad underwhelming to me, but I enjoyed the history. While The Pig War was mentioned quite a few times we didn't many answers until later in the book. This may have had me flipping the pages a tad faster, but I think I could have used a bit more intensity to it all. Anything that may have been underwhelming to me may work out fine for the targeted age group and boys in particular. One thing I do like is that this shows that if you get outside and play you can find your own adventure anywhere. In the time of video games and TV being the center of most children's lives, I enjoyed a book where there's not only no TV but also no inside toilet, etc. Where you actually have to work to get through each day.
I enjoyed this story quite a lot and Kell's sister Grace did a great job of stealing the show. She was a very bold little girl and very easy to imagine. The sibling relationship was also done very well and quite realistically. I recommend this one to middle grade boys in particular.
Candace is a wife and mother to two. She’s blogged at Candace’s Book Blog since November 2008. She enjoys a variety of genres including anything and everything young adult, some adult urban fantasy, a little bit of adult paranormal romance, some historical fiction and reads lots of childrens books. You can find her on her blog at http://www.candacesbookblog.com, twitter @candacemom2two and on goodreads.