Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham

Down the Mysterly RiverAbout a month ago, Seattle librarian and book maven, Nancy Pearl, had a brief spot on NPT talking about her “most memorable characters” of 2011. She had high praise for Max “the Wolf,” Willingham’s main character in Down the Mysterly River. I beg to differ.

Oh, Max was alright, but I found him a bit of a whiner and maybe too much of a “Boy Scout.” Actually he was a Boy Scout and proud of it. Don’t get me wrong, I have a long and happy history with both the Cub and Boy Scouts, but, really, I’ve never met a 6th grade boy as upstanding as Max. For me, he just didn’t ring true.

I did however, really enjoy the book. It’s a great adventure, full of tension, excitement, mystery humore and surprises. It has heart, especially because of the three secondary characters. One of the biggest surprises for me was how involved I became with Banderbrock the warrior badger, McTavish the cantankerous barn cat and especially the amiable, slow-witted but fiercely loyal “sheriff” bear, Walden.

After a somewhat slow and confusing beginning, I found myself keenly interested in solving the mystery of exactly where—and why—the friends found themselves. What had they done to deserve the wrath of the malicious “Blue Cutters” who hounded them so relentlessly, and would they ever see their homes again? Thanks to Willingham’s forte as a storyteller, all becomes clear. There seems to actually be a possibility for a sequel. I’d be interested to see—and read–that.

Posted by: Eileen

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