Title: Humbug Mountain
Author: Sid Fleischman
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co, 1978. 103 pages (ebook).
Source: Digital library
Little did Wiley, the son of a traveling newspaperman, imagine that the search for his grandfather would lead him into the hands of those nasty villains of the West, Shagnasty John and the Fool Killer. Using their newspaper, The Humbug Mountain Hoorah, Wiley and his sister and mother go about outwitting the outlaws in their scheme to ambush Grandfather's new boat and its cargo of gold.
People like to ask authors what other books or authors their work resembles. I didn't realize until I read this that, when it comes to The Ninja Librarian at least, my work resembles that of Sid Fleischman. That's probably because the only other book of his I've read was quite a while ago, and I'd forgotten.
Fleischman apparently shares my love of writing on the fine edge between realistic fiction and the absurd, and the result is, in this case, a delightful book. Wiley is a grand if naive narrator, and the situations are just that little bit over the top, making for a story that keeps you reading even while you laugh at it. The adventures of the Flint family are just ridiculous enough that the perils they face make you chuckle, not worry. The writing is smooth and clever, and the style consistent.
Humbug Mountain is written fairly simply, and with no real horrors or peril, the book is very well suited to younger students transitioning to novels. But it's fun enough to draw in older students as well. Wiley does a little growing up, but nothing very heavy. I suspect this would work well for reluctant readers, especially boys.
Full Disclosure: I checked Humbug Mountain out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."