Marvel Mansion Gang is a middle-grade chapter book that pulls readers into a summer long ago when five adventurous children and their friends explored their rural Midwest world. “School was out for the summer and already the gang at Marvel Mansion was up to something,” writes author Connie Ellen. That “something” ranges from escaping a raging bull to tracking down the mysterious figure they call “It.”
Readers will happily follow the kids and their friends along amusing and sometimes scary summer escapades that make farm life come alive.
For example, the children love to climb Ole Oak Tree, a meeting spot and lookout. One evening, they spot a mysterious figure they call “It.” “It” moves through the apple orchard, bending at each tree—and the children are determined to discover what’s going on. The running narrative of how they spy on “It” flows well through the chapters. Readers will want to know if the kids discover the truth about the black-clad figure before summer vacation ends.
Another theme is the children’s willingness to share the chores necessary in a large farm family. Scraping, washing and putting away dishes were a required part of each meal. But when one child tries to toss scraps to the chickens, she’s confronted with “two wild eyes staring at her.”
The book includes childlike, hand-drawn illustrations at the start of each chapter and might have been better served with more professional-looking art. Still, those who enjoy recalling Midwest farm life and the simpler days of a rural past will find this well-written and edited book a fun read. Even adults will take pleasure in these stories of a more innocent time.
Also available as an ebook.