HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Threatening Fog
Author: Leon Ware
Illustrator: Edward J. Smith
Publisher: Westminster Press, republished 1962
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 12-16
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Ware, Leon. The Threatening Fog (published in 1952 by The Curtis Publishing Company; republished in 1962 by The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, PA). Young Eben Tyrell Hall lives in Texas with his father Johnny, who is a U.S. Air Force pilot, and mother Harriet, who is originally from Rockhaven, MA, on the seacoast. However, his dad is seriously injured in an airplane accident near Stuttgart, Germany, and his mom must go there to be with him in his long recovery. So Mrs. Hall makes arrangements for Eben to spend the summer with her brother, his Uncle Silas Tyrell, a lobster fisherman and farmer, in Rockhaven. Eben has never met his uncle but is looking forward to the summer because he loves the sea. However, when he gets there, he finds that Uncle Si is glum and solitary, getting sick headaches whenever there is a thick fog. Everyone in town talks about Eben’s great-grandfather, Captain Eben Tyrell, who had done so much for the town.
However, no one seems willing to say much of anything about the Captain’s son and daughter-in-law, Eben’s grandparents, who supposedly perished at sea. Even his mother had told him almost nothing about them. And then there is the mystery of Silas’ cut lobster traps. Who would do such a dastardly thing? Can Eben make any friends in the rather closed community? Exactly what did happen to his grandparents? And why is Uncle Si so moody, especially when the fog rolls in? My local library’s copy of this book has a note pasted on it saying “Newbery Award,” but I cannot find the title on any list of Newbery Medalists or even Newbery Honor Books. Yet, it is still a reasonably enjoyable story.
Admittedly, there is not a great deal of action, and the plot moves along rather slowly at times, but there is enough mystery to hold one’s interest, and I liked the book. Uncle Si smokes a pipe, but there is no bad language or other objectionable features. Eben’s family apparently hasn’t attended church much, but he still says his prayers every night, and since his uncle does go to services regularly, Eben learns to attend with him. The boy has obviously been raised well to love his family, respect his elders, work hard, and help others. In spite of his nautical lineage, Eben is afflicted with acute, chronic seasickness, and how he learns to deal with this problem and the other situations that he faces is enlightening. Author Leon Ware wrote other mystery books for young people, such as The Jade Monkey Mystery and The Delta Mystery, and won the Edgar Award for Best Juvenile in 1966 with The Mystery of 22 East.