HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Mystery of the Island Fires
Author: Elaine Macmann Willoughby
Illustrator: Janet Hamlin
Publisher: Weekly Reader Books,1991
Language level: 2
(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 8-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Willoughby, Elaine Macmann. Mystery of the Island Fires (published in 1991 by Weekly Reader Corporation, a division of Newfield Publications Inc., 4141 Equity Dr., Columbus, OH 43228). Annie Crocker, who narrates the story, her younger brother Wallace, their baby sister Josie, and their parents are spending their second summer at Blue Shutters, a little white cottage—with blue shutters, of course—which they rent on an island just off the coast of New Hampshire. Their best friend on the island is Dave Stone. This year, their father is leaving to take a business trip to Japan, and their mother is opening an antiques shop in the nearby Algonquin Hotel run by Mrs. Emerson.
However, someone burns down a barn at the hotel where Mrs. Crocker’s shop is to be located and then later apparently tries to start another fire in one of the hotel’s other barns. Mrs. Emerson has just fired her pastry chef, Dunbar Harris, for stealing, and he threatened revenge. And then there’s old, ill-tempered Miss Lacey, who already owns an antiques store on the island and openly resents the potential competition from Mrs. Crocker. So, just who is responsible for the fires? Why would anyone want to burn the old barns at the hotel? And as Annie, Wallace, and Dave investigate the mystery, will they be able to find any clues to help solve it?
There are a few common euphemisms (darned, blast, gosh, golly). Some people prefer kids’ mysteries that have no actual crime or any real danger. This is not one of those. But it is an interesting story that will keep the reader’s attention until the somewhat surprise ending. The author, Elaine Macmann Willoughby, lives on an island in New England herself. The back of the book says, “Annie, Wallace and Dave are looking for excitement this summer—but are they ready for their next crackling hot caper?” Their first caper was Mystery of the Lobster Thieves.