Smith, Lane. Return to Augie Hobble
May 5th 2015 by Roaring Brook Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Augie lives with his family near their business in the Southwest, Fairy Tale Place. Built in the 1960s and bypassed in the 1990s by a new highway, the business isn't doing all that well. Augie knows this, and helps out as much as he can, repainting mushrooms and sweeping up barf. He has a good friend, Britt, but the two struggle against the stereotypical bully Hogg and his evil henchman, Trip. Augie has also failed his Creative Arts final project and has to turn in a new one by the end of the summer. Combine this with the fact that he suspects that there are werewolves in the area, and a tragedy occurs that leads to odd circumstances, and it's understandable that Augie is having a difficult time.
Strengths: Intriguing Lane Smith artwork throughout and a fantastic setting (I LOVE fairy tale parks!) could have made a great humorous middle grade realistic novel. This is not what this is.
Weaknesses: I may be more disappointed in this book than I have ever been in a book. **SPOILER ALERT** Britt dies from anaphylactic shock, and for a while, Augie is convinced that his friend ate a cookie that contained peanuts that he had put in his backpack for a car trip. That's not the cause of death, but Britt then comes back as a ghost and leaves messages for Augie. It's a weird, weird sort of grief and takes a nice, humorous story onto weirdly dark ground.
What I really think: This would have been absolutely fabulous if the tragedy had not occurred; as it is, I don't think I'll buy it.