Book 2: Exploring the Town
John Clarke Hoffman
It is the autumn of 1954 in the Catskill Mountain town of Delhi, NY. John Hoffman, Buzzy Fancher, and the other members of the River Rat Gang are in eighth grade at Delaware Academy. The excitement of Halloween is in the air. Their adventures begin with an elaborate prank involving an antique fire engine. Winter brings tobogganing and romance, spring an encounter with the tough uptown Trucker gang in Stutz’s junkyard, and summer a raid on a girl scout camp out at the Pine Hill Reserve. These great stories capture the both excitement and the security of growing up in 1950s small-town America.
The subject matter is quite appropriate for children from about grades 3 through 6 or 7, depending in large part on the particular interests of the child. This is a great “first novel” for children reading fluidly at about 5th grade level or beyond. These stories are wholesome, interesting, and well-written; told by a teacher who lived them (or wished he had!). Highly recommended.