Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Augie and his parents live near Fairy Tale Place, an amusement park with four themed lands (Storybrook Village, Birthday Town, Fort Fortitude and the North Pole). Augie's father is the manager and Augie often helps out doing odd jobs for him over the summer. Augie has just found out that he failed his Creative Arts final project. Instead of building a tree house with his best friend Britt, he is going to have to come up with a whole new idea for a project. Augie starts jotting down ideas in a journal. While Britt is having his own troubles with Hogg and Trip, two bullies that have been bothering them throughout the school year. Then one night as Augie is going to meet a girl, he runs into what he thinks is a werewolf in the woods around the park. A werewolf that slobbers on him, and now he thinks he is turning into a werewolf too. When a tragedy occurs to someone near to Augie, he has more difficult things to worry about.
I really enjoyed how Return to Augie Hobble was set in an amusement park, it reminds me of growing up near Santa's Workshop and the North Pole. Which is a Christmas themed amusement park near Colorado Springs, and has these cool rides and games. I can never forget the red and white pole that peeks out from the trees, you can see it from the highway for miles. The setting added the much needed humor to the story with the clever play on the names of the food stands and attractions. The full page illustrations by Lane Smith of Augie's journal ideas for his project were also quite creative and amusing. Got to love a kid who jots story ideas and illustrations into a journal. I was really enjoying the interactions between Augie and his friend Britt, they seemed like your typical middle school boys. I think this is why when the story took a darker turn, I was totally caught by surprise. It left me being unsure if this was intended to be a book about a creative kid full of cool ideas, or a story about grief and loss, and in the end the paranormal aspects just didn't work for me.
Return to Augie Hobble has been nominated for the Cybils award and my review reflects my personal opinion, not the opinion of the Cybils committee.