THE first novel by school teacher Doug Cornett, the story combines a mystery in a small town as well how the main protagonist tries to make sense of the many changes going on around him.
The story begins with our narrator, fifth grader Paul Marconi, and his two best friends – known by their interesting nicknames Peephole and Shanks – who along with the rest of the town, decide to check out the mysterious appearance of rubber ducks on Mr Babbage’s backyard.
Peephole, Shanks and Paul are members of a club called The One And Only (because they are the only child in their respective families) and fancy themselves amateur detectives.
So the kids try to find out who is responsible for the ducks on the lawn incident, and look into suspects ranging from a nasty teacher, a former babysitter who plays a tuba in the woods at night, and a few other quirky denizens of the town.
As the children are trying to solve the mystery, they have to contend with changes in their small town which is actually dying economically, as well as a major corporation which is literally about to bulldoze its way in by tearing out the town’s old haunts.
However the children also find out about some of the people in this town whom they did not notice before.
The book is written using simple language and may appeal to young readers. All in all, it is less of a mystery novel, more about close friends trying to cling to special moments as the world around them changes.
A light-hearted read.