Lionel’s Grand Adventure is a wonderful series by a talented writer, Paul Hewlett, and I’m not in the least biassed just because he’s a fellow BookElf. Neither am I biassed in my review of this, just because I received an ARC. I may be biassed in that I love Lionel, and his adventures at camp brought my own adventures right back to me, but that is part of the power of Paul’s writing – he understands who we really are!
If you haven’t read any of Lionel Snodgrass’s adventures, I recommend them to you. Lionel is not the most athletic, or frankly, the brightest of chaps, but he has a good heart, and he’s more than a little smitten by one of the girls in his class, Carrie, who’s…nice! He has lots of ambitions, though, and sometimes resorts to wishing on his lucky Three-toed Pot-bellied Wampum foot (a bit like a rabbit’s foot but inclined to answer magical wishes a little obliquely).
Adventure number 3 starts with Lionel agonising over whether his mother has applied for him to go to summer camp. I can never quite remember why Mrs Snodgrass is so mean and uncaring towards Lionel, but I know it happens, and it transpires in this book that Lionel’s father disappeared rather suddenly one day, and for some reason, Mrs Snodgrass still has an old suitcase in the attic with some of his things in it. Lionel discovers the contents and learns that not only did his father get a prized Boy Scout award for camping, he also got a button, which he can see clearly in the faded photo, even if he doesnt know what it means. What these discoveries do is to aggravate Lionel’s desire not only to go to camp, but to do well and show he truly is his father’s son.
I won’t spoil it for you, because of course things often go wrong, but sometimes go right, and at least Lionel has some assistance from others to overcome the attentions of the school bully, who naturally is Lionel’s roomie. This book seems to lead into more of the mystery surrounding Lionel’s dad, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn there’ll be a fourth adventure, maybe to a place called Northampton, in the not too distant future. I’m really looking forward to it!