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*Summer at Forsaken Lake* by Michael D. Beil, illustrated by Maggie Kneen - middle grades book review
Also by Michael D. Beil:

The Red Blazer Girls: The Secret Cellar

The Red Blazer Girls: The Vanishing Violin
Summer at Forsaken Lake
by Michael D. Beil, illustrated by Maggie Kneen
Ages 9-13 336 pages Knopf June 2012 Hardcover    

Michael D. Beil, author of the popular Red Blazer Girls mystery series, takes his readers on a wonderful retreat to a beautiful lake, where the characters explore an old mystery, learn to sail, and make friends to last a lifetime.

Summer at Forsaken Lake is the story of twelve-year-old Nicholas and his ten-year-old twin sisters as they spend their first summer in the country at the lake home of their father’s Uncle Nick. Almost immediately, Nicholas meets a girl his same age, Charlie, in a baseball game. She is the pitcher, and she strikes out all the batters, including Nicholas. As it turns out, Charlie’s mom, Franny, and Nicholas’ dad, Will, were close friends back when they were both fourteen, yet neither child was aware of the relationship.

The mystery begins when the children are exploring Uncle Nick’s house and find an old notebook and reel of film—a movie that his father was making: The Seaweed Strangler. As the family watches the movie, they learn why it was never finished. Will took all the blame for an accident involving him and Franny and never returns to Forsaken Lake again, an accident Franny remembers as out of Will’s control.

Nicholas and Charlie take it upon themselves to not only finish the movie but also to find out what really happened to cause the accident. Chapter by chapter, they discover more clues about that fateful day, and in return understand more about their parents that they never knew before.

Beil tells this engaging story in the third person, focusing on the experiences of Nicholas. The children in the story work well together, patiently solving a problem. A hint of competitiveness makes their personalities both realistic and compelling.

The lake setting and old house are important components of the story, each with their own hidden treasures and special places. A mysterious boat is seen only in the middle of the night and is also depicted in an old painting in the house.

This multi-faceted story captures a child’s imagination with mystery, adventure, family and friendship. Readers will want to be in Nicholas or Charlie’s place, to experience their accomplishments, discoveries and adventures, hoping for a happy ending and more summers to come. Highly recommended.
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  Kristine Wildner/2012 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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