Ferocious Fall: Our Wild Weather Escapes
by C. A. Hartnell
Hawk Prints Publishing

"The huge, swirling dust devil roared across the vacant playground like a runaway train off its tracks."

Pete and Carol Ann’s adventures continue as autumn kicks into gear. The weather in El Monte, California, begins to get dangerous with cloudburst thunderstorms, flash floods, and even a dangerous dust devil that the two kids must avoid to stay safe. Whether preparing for Halloween, going to high school football games, or visiting popular landmarks like Knott’s Berry Farm and Sturtevant Falls, these two neighborhood friends are always up to some kind of adventure with their families, friends, and Carol Ann’s energetic dog, Buddy.

With the temperatures starting to drop, there is still lots to see and do around El Monte. There is also plenty of fun to be had, but a dangerous adventure seems to follow these two youths no matter where they go. Thefts are occurring throughout the neighborhood, at various businesses, homes, and even in the school. Police suspect a group of teenagers, and Pete’s brother Hawk could be a prime suspect with his random disappearances. Carol Ann endures a double dose of bullying from Pete’s older sister Mary Jane and a bully in her class named Rex. The latter even goes so far as to threaten her. Armed with a notebook full of clues and inspirational Bible verses, Carol Ann has to face down her fears, even if it means putting herself in danger, as she’s determined to figure out who’s behind all of the thefts and hopefully exonerate Hawk from being part of a dangerous crowd.

The 1950s Adventures of Pete and Carol Ann series continues in this third book with everything readers have come to expect. There are many heartfelt moments and lots of wholesome entertainment to be found along with elements of conflict through the bullying that Carol Ann receives. Readers don’t need to be overly familiar with the culture of the 1950s or the landmarks of California to appreciate what’s on display in this story, but those who lived through the time or the place will be personally delighted as they relate to the setting. The stories come from the author’s own experiences growing up, and the photos at the back of the book attest to the inspiration for the various things that Pete and Carol Ann get up to.

After the book is over, the fun continues as young readers can enjoy the activity pages in the back which are full of games, puzzles, trivia, recipes, and a glossary of terms used by Pete, Carol Ann, and other cool kids in the 1950s. Like the other books in the series, this one corresponds thematically to the season it takes place in, but it also functions well either as an installment or as a stand-alone celebration of the autumn months. It is perfect for reading at the start of a school year. The lengths that Pete and Carol Ann go to to help their family, friends, and each other serve as a great example for children who may be struggling with bullying in school or just with making friends with people of all types. Fun, sincere, and full of heart, this book is perfect for readers of all ages who are looking for a little positivity without being overwhelmed by a story that is corny or unrealistic.

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