This week’s book review of a novella is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.
Lionel Goes to Camp by Paul R Hewlett
Synopsis: Lionel is dying to go to summer camp to try to learn more about his dad. But did his mom even sign him up, or is the joke on him waiting for a letter that will never come? Lionel has never met his dad, and his mom never talks about him, but Lionel’s magical Three-Toed-Potbellied Walbaun foot has him convinced the answers are at Camp Bonine.
Lionel does get his letter during a disastrous trip to the Post Office; he’s going to camp! His excitement for camp is quickly doused when he learns he’s rooming with the biggest bully in school—Tad Winters. After being tripped, pranked, and set up by Tad, Lionel finds himself stuck doing dishes with Martha the kitchen lady. Lionel finally gets his chance to get even when the day of the big scavenger hunt arrives. The boy and girl winners get to spend the day at Lake Yellowhorn.
Will Carrie win for the girls? Will Lionel beat Tad and get to go with her? Lionel will have to endure Martha, wander through the desert in the old west, find his way through the woods, escape bad guys, and collect all the items before everyone else if he wants a chance to spend the day with Carrie at Lake Yellowhorn, survive summer camp, and find out the mystery of his dad. Luckily, Lionel has his magical charm to help him out, or will it land Lionel in a mess-and-a-half he can’t get out of?
After a really sweet dedication to Paul’s sadly departed dog (mine’s fourteen and a half and I’m dreading the inevitable), the table of contents shows twelve chapters with some brilliant titles including ‘A Drop in the Attic’ and ‘Bookends and Bug Bites’. If this were a short story collection, I’d probably start those first but this is a novella so chapter one it is, fortunately, the aforementioned ‘A Drop in the Attic’.
With any story, we need a conflict and this one comes on page one; Lionel wishing to find out more about his dad (and his mum isn’t letting him go to camp). We’re then introduced to his Three-Toed-Potbellied Walbaun foot which brings him whatever he wants but proves to be ‘both handy and unpredictable’. That makes a story all the more fun.
As per Paul’s previous book, Lionel’s Christmas Adventure (which I reviewed back in December), there are some witty phrases including ‘Lionel sneezed so hard he thought the top of his head might pop off’, ‘If he didn’t hide things, they had a way of either disappearing or getting him in trouble’, ‘He looked like an oil slick had landed on his head’, ‘his eyebrows scrunched together like a caterpillar crossing the road’, and the howling reveal was funny.