The Skye brothers skinny, quiet, big-eared Owen and his smart older brother Andy live in a rural village with their parents and weird Uncle Lorne, a shy bachelor who sleeps on a cot in the basement and takes out his teeth at night. On his way home from hockey practice one evening, Owen catches a glimpse of a girl named Sylvia. He falls hopelessly in love, and Valentine’s Day turns into one big disaster. Thank goodness for life at home, where there's a brother to talk to and plot adventures with. Yet the Skye boys somehow manage to turn every innocent plan into a full-scale ordeal. A search for a hammer turns into a brush with the deadly Bog Man, a midnight visit to the snow fort to meet with aliens becomes a near-death experience. This funny, magical novel celebrates the everyday joys and drama of being a kid and, especially, being a boy. Owen’s small-town childhood may be simple, but his days are rich indeed as he ponders the secret mysteries of death, life, and love.
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Grade 3-6-With a zany style and deep insight into the secret lives of boys, Cumyn tells a series of connected stories about young Owen Skye and his two brothers, Andy and Leonard. Their adventures are, by turns, funny, frightening, and genuinely dangerous. All are fully engaging, although at times readers might wonder where reality stops and fantasy begins. Are there really aliens that can be contacted by radio from Dead Man's Hill? Does the Bog Man really suck out the juice from cattle? Is their archenemy the giant squid doing more evil deeds? But beyond the supernatural, Owen is bewildered by ordinary things, including his sudden attraction to Sylvia, which leads to a Valentine's Day fiasco and a visit to the dreaded principal. The boys have hilarious conversations about many subjects, including God: "Well, if God is everywhere, then he must be in toilet paper too! And cheese broccoli soup." Cumyn's prose is lively and liberally sprinkled with sparkling turns of phrase: "On that march home the cold slipped inside the boys' snowsuits and drained away all their heat like a plug had been pulled from the bathtub." The characters are fresh and genuinely fascinating, from Owen's clueless parents and his strange but wise Uncle Lorne, who lives in the dank basement, to kindly Nurse Debbie and others who enter the lives of these unruly siblings. This book is very funny, and it would be a splendid read-aloud or read-alone choice.
Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"[Shows] a zany style and deep insight into the secret lives of boys ... Their adventures are, by turns, funny, frightening, and genuinely dangerous ... This book is funny, and it would be a splendid read-aloud or read-alone choice."
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