Publisher: Capstone for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 255
Published: April 2016
Source: Giveaway sponsored by From the Mixed-Up Files and a copy of the book provided by the author.
Opening Line: I snuck the phone into the hall closet, where Katie's faux fur parka would muffle the sound."
10-year-old best friends Annie and Jason regard themselves as spies and adventurers, and they're also the two founding members of the PB&J Society. A society where each of their smushed peanut butter and jelly sandwichs receives a ceremonial sendoff to become "food for the worms." Of course, their ceremony follows a very specific set of rules before their beloved sandwiches can be laid to rest. But all of their adventuring gets put on hold when they learn that Jason's family might be losing their house and have to move away. Annie then comes up with a list of sure-fire ways to help prevent the foreclosure and if all else fails, Jason and his family can live in her parent's basement, she's positive they won't mind. The story is also about Mrs. Schuster, a neighbor in the cul de sac who invites the two of them over to her house, which to Annie and Jason is kinda odd because to them she's been nothing but "Mrs. Meany" ever since she yelled at them to get off her yard and wouldn't return Jason's football. But it seems Mrs. Schuster is trying to change her crabby ways and after inviting them in shares a chest she found in the attic that once belonged to her great, great grandmother, Captain Black Marge. Within the chest are antique pirate clothing and a bonified pirates map which Mrs. Schuster hints will lead them to Captain Marge's treasure, hiding somewhere within their own neighborhood. So, Annie starts to hatch a plan to find the pirate treasure and keep from losing her best friend forever.
The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society had me reminiscing about my own best friend from my childhood, Craig. Like Annie and Jason, we liked to roam about the neighborhood and have glorious pretend adventures, and I'll never forget playing in the hedge and being dive-bombed by the magpies who apparently decided to have a nest where our fort was, or our climbing tree in the front yard and drawing pictures together. While reading, I also recalled how it felt having to move away from my friend and although we continued to write letters for a short while after, we had both moved on to new friendships by the time I returned to our house a few years later. Maybe in some way, the story helps kids to realize that some things, like a friend having to move away, aren't necessarily something a parent can control. I couldn't blame my dad for us having to move, although at the time I wanted to blame the army, eventually, I did realize that each move was a new opportunity to make new friends. I really don't want to give the impression that this is just a book for adults to have warm fuzzy feelings over though, I really think that kids can see their own friendships in the story and connect with that feeling of not wanting your best friend in the whole world to move away. Truthfully not only is this a fun friendship adventure story it also delves into some tougher subjects like Jason's family's financial struggles and how his dad not being able to find a job impacts the whole family. I really liked Jason and how despite his initial skepticism about the pirate treasure, Annie's determination and bossiness wins him over and gets them searching for clues. Even when Jason's family problems cause him to frustratingly tell her to "grow up, " Annie still maintains her never give up attitude and you can't help rooting for her throughout the story. Oh and the dialogue, between the two friends and Annie and her parents, so good. One of my favorite parts happens early on when Annie is researching how much money she can make for donating her kidney and her mom walks in and see's the computer screen,
"Kidney donations? An-nie?" I hated it when she said my name like that. It's like her tone could pull out a confession even if I were innocent."
I really felt sorry for them when some of their adventures lead to Jason's dad grounding them from seeing each other for two weeks, which felt like an unjustly harsh punishment for such steadfast friends. But absolutely loved the note that Jason left for Annie in her lunch box after one of their forced separations. Overall, I thought this was a wonderful adventurous friendship story with two adorable main characters and one crabby lady, who doesn't turn out to be as crabby as she initially wanted you to think she was. Bonus there is a lovely discussion guide that the author created.