Reviews of Books for Readers 8 - 13 by Max Elliot Anderson 2014 UPDATE

Lost Island Smugglers, Newspaper Caper, Terror at Wolf Lake, North Woods Poachers, Mountain Cabin Mystery, Big Rig Rustlers, Secret of Abbott’s Cave, & Legend of the White Wolf, are compared by readers and reviewers to Tom Sawyer, The Hardy Boys, Huck Finn, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, Scooby-Doo, Lemony Snicket, and adventure author Jack London.

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Using his extensive experience in dramatic film, video, and TV commercial production, Max Elliot Anderson brings that same heart-pounding, visual excitement to his middle grade adventures & mysteries for readers 8 and up

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Books for Boys Blog

If you’d like additional information about boys, books, reading, and education, take a look at my blog, Books for Boys

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Latest Book Reviews for Max Elliot Anderson - as of April 2020

Check out the reviews for these exciting books you can trust for your young readers 8 and up.
Updated - April, 2020

"Max Elliot Anderson brings a lifetime of dramatic film and video production to the pages of his action adventures and mysteries." Jerry B. Jenkins, Author

"Sam Cooper Adventures are like good, family movies . . . as an ordinary kid finds himself in exciting and extra-ordinary adventures!" Bill Myers - Author

VIDEO: Reading Sparks Imagination in Kids. COMING SOON!

VIDEO: The Accidental Adventures of Kurt Benson and his Friends Riley and Jordan. 

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Positive reviews for Max Elliot Anderson’s chapter adventure books for readers 8 and up, continue to come in.


Reviewed by Messy Mom

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Newspaper Caper by Max Elliot Anderson

Tom Stevens is a twelve-year-old ambitious salesman in Rock Island, Illinois. He recruits his two best friends to assist him with not one but three newspaper routes in order to help them train for football tryouts in the fall and to save up money to buy a car to distribute more papers. All this during summer vacation. Ambitious. Salesman. Yep.

In the wee hours of the morning before sunrise, the three boys stumble across some suspicious activity. A tow truck begins to hook up an expensive car in someone’s driveway along the paper route. But when the tow truck driver sees the boys, he drives off in the truck, leaving the car behind. Later, Tom reads of a string of car thefts around the area in the papers the boys prepare to deliver. He begins to see a connection between the local car repair shop and the thefts. Developing his detective skills, Tom and his friends piece clues together. Where are the cars going? Why don’t the cops see the clues the way Tom does?

This is a fun, easy read for kids ages 8-12. Though Christian, the message is subtle and not heavy at all. There is excitement, adventure, with a few twists and turns for added fun. I will definitely recommend Newspaper Caper by Max Elliot Anderson to my daughter, nephew, and my friends with kids in the age group.

Twelve-year-old Tom and his friends Jimmy and Matt deliver papers early in the morning. They not only earn money, but also build up their muscles riding their bikes. They intend to play foot ball once they get into high school.
Only one night, something strange happens. Two men in a tow truck target a car, only to drive away when the boys spot them. When Tom realizes a car-theft ring is operating in the city, he and his friends
keep their eyes open.
They don't expect that their paper route will provide clues that lead them to dig deeper, but it does. Still, they need enough proof to take to the cops and all they have are assumptions--and a suspect. Their detective work leads them into danger with the car thieves and vicious dogs.
Will Tom and his friends be able to find help before it is too late?
A fun, suspenseful read with some interesting twists that squarely hits the target market of tween boys--though girls who enjoy mysterieswill like it, too.
Newspaper Caper, written by Max Anderson, is one of the better books I have read. It held my attention with its exciting plot, well-developed characters, and a feeling that what happens in the book could actually happen to someone in real life. I would recommend it to readers between the ages of 9-14. Newspaper Caper is the second installment of the Tweener Press Adventure Series. This story revolves around a twelve-year-old boy named Tom and his two friends, Matt and Jimmy. Tom has convinced Matt and Jimmy that they will become the most physically fit try-outs for their school football team if they help him with his paper route every morning. One day, while delivering papers, they see a strange sight: a man trying to open a car when the key won't work. When the man sees the boys, he runs to a tow truck and drives off. The next day, while rolling papers, Tom notices a headline about car thefts. The mystery unfolds from this point. With its humor, mystery, and the reminder that God is always with you, this book makes me want to read the other books in the Adventure Series.

Reviewed By: Aaron Garrett - Eclectic Homeschool Online


Read all about it! NewspaperCaper hits the stands! The headlines should scream. This book is a must read! It begins: "Anybody who knew Tom Stevens was sure of one thing. The boy was going places." The author isn't lying. This book features a strong-willed protagonist in a thrilling mystery that is going places from word one. It is one of the better kid's adventure novels I have read in years with a non-stop, relentlessly driving pace. Every chapter ends with a cliffhanger, just like the good old days, but this is a smooth, intelligent story, and not the herky-jerky schlock we're sadly used to in the adventure genre. The lead player, Tom, is one of the most memorable characters I have ever read in this genre. He's a real go-geter and is in trouble up to his eyes, but he never flinches and plows straight ahead. The action does not let up and builds to an amazing finale brought about byTom's brilliant strategies and breathless, daring work. In fact this is the best story of its type I have read since The Gold Ogre by Kenneth Robeson, a novel of the Doc Savage series of the 1930s-40s pulp era, that also featured a group of juvenile protagonists.Newspaper Caper is the first in a new series of kids adventures by Max Eliot Anderson. The series is Tweener Adventures, billed as Christian but not overtly so in the text, and this premier book is a smashing success. It features streetwise, take-charge kids and is written for those sometimes disenfranchised, always aching-for-adventure kids scattered about Suburbia like so much collateral damage of the modern age. This series is a refreshing take on the Hardy Boys-esque mysteries, fully modern and unique in that each novel is a stand alone tale without the same characters or locations being repeated. I'm not quite sure how that will play out over the coming years, if there will ever be any recurrent themes, characters, or storylines, but regardless of the direction it takes, Mr. Anderson has set himself a very high bar for the rest of the series.I recommend this book for all school age readers looking for some adventure to spice up their life. They'll learn a lot from these kids, who run their own businesses, live up to their responsibilities, and aren't afraid to reach for and grab their own dreams. That regardless of anything else, is a great lesson to take to heart. There is one thing I greatly appreciated in these books. Mr. Anderson doesn't preach. He doesn't ram rod the moral and destroy the story along the way. He doesn't write down to kids. These are fresh, alive, and honest characters that leap off the page in an exciting world. Kids can truly relate to their lives, respect their choices, and simply sit back and enjoy the thrill ride.

Thomas Fortenberry's Bookshelf – Midwest Book Review


Tom Stevens and his best friends Jimmy Wilson and Matt Woodbridge are 12 year oldboys who live in Rock Island, IL near the Mississippi River. It is summer, and the boyswant to earn some money, so Tom, a master salesman, talks his friends into taking onthree paper routes in the neighborhood which means the boys must awaken each day at4:30 A.M. in order to get the papers wrapped and delivered on time. He tells his friendsthis will get them in shape for trying out and playing football in the fall; all three boys’dream. A daily reward for the boys is their delivery at Big Bob’s Doughnut Shop whereBob generously treats the boys to orange juice and a doughnut each day. What a rewardfor a 12 year old boy!All goes well for the boys, besides the occasional dog chasing after them, until they beginto see some odd things happening in the early morning hours. A truck bearing the wordsSMITTY’S TOWING acts very odd and leaves quickly when the driver sees the boyshave noticed him, and he quickly drives away without towing the intended car. Soonafter, the boys learn of unexplained car thefts occurring around town.Jimmy’s uncle owns P.J.’s Auto Repair, so the boys begin hanging around and askingquestions, trying to learn all they can about why the mysterious truck acted as it did,thinking someone at the repair shop might have some knowledge about Smitty’s Towing.They boys learn about chop shops and what happens to cars after they are stolen and howreselling car parts is a very lucrative business. The boys are surprised to learn thatsometimes a car thief will make a deal with the car owner so that when the car shell isfound, the original owner can turn this loss into their insurance company and get paid fortheir loss. They learn the insurance company comes out the loser in this situation, but inreality, we ultimately all pay with higher rates. Deceit hurts everyone.Exciting times ensue for the three boys, and they see some strange things going onaround town; such as one person gets out and deposits his trash in a container, then alongcomes another person who takes the trash out and drives off with it! They encountervicious guard dogs, and they come up with some quite ingenious ways to subdue theanimals. The boys also learn of some resources available at the library that are helpful intheir quest to unravel the puzzle. While investigating some leads, Tom meets a little oldlady on a park bench near the library whom he learns has had her car, a last gift from hernow deceased husband, stolen. He promises the little old lady he will do all he can tohelp her find her car again, for she now must take a bus or walk everywhere she goes, buteven more importantly, for sentimental reasons. The license plate bearing the title“PRINCESS” is especially meaningful to the little lady. The boys get in several veryprecarious circumstances and the story is exciting! The plot will keep you passionatelyturning pages!This story is a great book for all 12 year olds, and I believe even those who find itdifficult to become engrossed in a book will find results here. Another item I liked aboutthe book was that the boys are aptly rewarded by the city for doing their civic duty. Ifound that in itself a good message to kids. Max Elliot Anderson offers a book with goodvalues, a healthy lesson, plus the bonus of a great and exciting story. It is a page turnerthat will keep you and your child fascinated!


The Newspaper Caperby Max Elliot Anderson
ages 9-12
136 pages

Twelve-year-old Tom Stevens is not your everyday pre-teen. As Max Elliot Anderson describes his protagonist, Tom is a preternaturally talented salesman. “When he was only four, Tom was the first boy on his street to set up a lemonade stand … in January!” Tom runs a thriving newspaper delivery business with the help of his often reluctant friends, Jimmy Wilson and Matt Woodridge. Jimmy and Matt’s reluctance stems from the need to be up at four in the morning to put the papers together and roll them up prior to delivery.One morning, Tom spies a tow truck that is about to hook up an expensive looking car. When the men in the tow truck see the boys on their bicycles, they quickly flee the scene, ignoring the car. In addition to being an astute salesman, Tom has a keen sense of observation and an eye for the unusual. When he reads about the spate of car robberies in his town, Tom puts two and two together and enlists his friends to solve the mystery.Max Elliot Anderson grew up a reluctant reader, even though he came from a family where reading was the norm. As an adult, Anderson realized that his apathy to the written word was because most books were poorly written with a dearth of action. He set out to write books that crackled with action and were page turners. The current book is a fine testament to Anderson’s quest. While the mystery is not complicated, there are ample chases and twists and turns to keep the reader engrossed. The characters are plausible both in their motivations and in their actions. Anderson keeps the descriptions sparse and focuses on the action. Readers who are making the transition to longer chapter books will find this book an enjoyable experience.

Ram Subramanian/for curled up with a good kid's book
For middle school kids comes the new Tweener Press Adventure Series beginning with Max Elliot Anderson’s "Newspaper Caper." This series targets boys, specifically those boys who are heavy into the Harry Potter books. Their goal is to keep'em reading and to provide more uplifting material than the progressively darker Potter books.

Anderson's action-packed tale of three 12-year-olds who uncover a car-thieving ring while working their paper route is just the ticket. This demographic will love the fast pace,and the cliff-hanging chapter endings.

This is Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn if they lived in modern American suburbia. The next title promises more of the same: "Terror at Wolf Lake." Book Reviews by Heather Hunt


Heartland Review of Newspaper Caper
Reviewer: Bob Spear from Leavenworth, KS USA
Newspaper Caper is a wonderful mid-grade mystery adventure book for reluctant readers. Tom Stevens is a nine-year-old businessman who has talked he two best friends into working for him on his morning newspaper route. They witness, try to solve, and become enmeshed in a car theft ring.

This book teaches the work ethic, honesty and many positive values, while not preaching. The action is fast, and young people will quickly get pulled into the story. We feel this author is providing a much-needed resource for those readers who would rather not read if they don't have to. We rated it five hearts.


12-yr old Tom Stevens is a paper boy. A born leader and 'business man,' Tom parleys everything he touches into a money-making enterprise. "When he was only four, Tom was the first boy on his street to set up a lemonade stand -- in January. And, even though snow already covered the ground, people still stopped and bought some. He could just as easily sell hot chocolate on the most sweltering day of the summer if he wanted to."

Thus Max Anderson introduces us to Tom. With his two best friends Jimmy and Matt, Tom runs one of the largest newspaper routes in his home town. But Tom isn't your ordinary kid. His is an inquisitive mind and when he spots something not quite right, he is determined to get to the bottom of it.

That early in the morning, the boys often saw some pretty strange things: customers locked outside their house while retrieving the paper just delivered, not necessarily ready to meet the world - like a lady in curlers and green stuff on her face. But the boys instinctively adopted a rule of silence about what they saw on their daily route.

However, one morning, during their summer vacation, while it is still dark, the boys notice a tow-truck backing up to the car parked in the driveway of one of their customers. A man gets out of the truck and approaches the car, while in the cab sits another man. Tom gets a glimpse of him. He wears a light blue shirt with a nametag on the front and a patch on the sleeve. The man had dark hair. Though his face was hidden, Tom saw the name on his shirt -- "Jake."

But the man outside the truck sees the boys and instead of hooking up the car to tow it away he quickly runs back to the truck, jumps in and drives away with squealing tires and a trail of blue smoke. "That's strange," thought Tom. And the investigation is on.

Max says he really hated to read, and everything he tried to read failed to hold his interest. He wanted "music, action, and moving pictures…not just a bunch of words." So, he set out to write a book that he would like. NEWSPAPER CAPER is the start of an adventure series he developed will hold the interest of …'Tweeners' - ages 8-13, especially boys."

I loved this book - and I'm a girl! And I'm definitely not a Tweener. Yet this book captivated me from the first page. I think Max has done exactly what he set out to do - and beyond. I'd give this book SIX stars, if there were such a thing. Max, you're on the right track, and I wish you all the best!

Peggy Phifer


Tom, Jimmy and Matt have a joint newspaper route, and the boys are up early every morning delivering the papers on their bikes. The boys read about a series of auto thefts in their neighborhood, and one morning they see a couple of men acting very suspiciously. They are pretty sure that the men are stealing a car. Tom sees the name Jake embroidered on one guy's pocket.
The same Jake turns out to be a mechanic at a relative's garage, and he acts very secretive when the boys are around.
The boy's adventures as they take matters into their own hands and investigate the car thefts are hair rising. They befriend an elderly widow whose car is stolen, and encounter vicious, boy-eating watch dogs and the thieves themselves at the chop-shop used by the crooks.
This story contains Christian concepts...God is very much a part of the boys' lives.
The characters are very well drawn and realistic. The plot is exciting and the suspense builds to a surprise ending. This thrilling story is written with the 8 to 14 year old reluctant reader in mind, and the kids just won't be able to put it down.


Tom Stevens is a born salesman who entices his friends to become entrepreneurs. Disciplining themselves to become the best football players means they have to rise early everyday in order to deliver local newspapers.

Their delivery route has its challenges which Anderson has the characters handle with robust and often hilarious responses. The plot begins to race along as they discover they may have accidentally become witnesses to a very well- planned car theft pattern that is causing grief to numerous people.

Realistically, Tom Stevens, Jimmy Wilson, and Matt Woodridge keep delivering their papers while discovering increasing evidence that proves the thieves might just be a little closer to their world than they previously expected.

It is Tom, however, who proves the most capable at carrying this mystery to its danger-fraught conclusion. His investigative skills are quite convincing and the reader will be mentally urging him forward as he comes closer to solving the crimes. His trust in God is contagious as he comes frightfully closer to having to do more than just watch an unfolding drama.

In a world fraught with apathy and resignation, Max Anderson presents another Tweener Press Adventure that is sure to delight young readers who are looking for real excitement and hope that defies all injustice.

Neat job, Mr. Anderson!

Reviewed by Viviane Crystal 



BOOK REVIEW: Terror At Wolf Lake

Author: Max Elliot Anderson
By: Alex Kent

I was given Max Elliot Anderson’s books personally signed by him to me. My mom told Mr. Anderson that I couldn’t find any interesting boy books to read and she would help market his books if I would read them. I have several of his books that I do enjoy reading because they are about boys like me doing things that I like to do. This book, Terror At Wolf Lake actually happened at Wolf Lake, Michigan.
Eddy Thompson is a kid in the forth grade and he cheats on everything like games, tests, schoolwork, and everything. Eddy’s father decides to take Eddy and his two best friends, Chet and Rusty, and their fathers to a cabin in the woods at Wolf Lake, Michigan, for an ice fishing vacation during their Christmas break.
While there, Eddy and his friends heard and saw some men hide money they had stolen from a bank. Eddy discovered that honesty is the best no matter what. He learned that being honest would be the best in any situation and when he went back to school, he even told his teacher that he had cheated on a test and asked to take it over and do extra work to make up for his dishonesty. This story is about being honest. I enjoyed Terror At Wolf Lake because of the action and mystery. I felt scared when they were scared and felt good when they told the truth. I think boys would like it a lot.


Terror at Wolf Lake
by Max Elliot Anderson
ages 9-12 144

Eddy Thompson is a classic example of a boy gone wrong for lack of parental direction. This twelve-year-old boy has a father who thinks nothing of taking a vehicle for a test drive for a week with no intention of buying it. Naturally, Eddie is a cheat – he cheats at school and he cheats at games with his friends. In Max Elliot Anderson’s adventure tale set in a snowy cabin in Michigan, Eddie Thompson confronts a situation where he has to question his own and his father’s penchant for cheating.

When the fathers are out ice fishing, Eddie and his friends stay back at the cabin to occupy themselves by playing games. As luck would have it, two particularly inept thieves come to the cabin with a suitcase full of money. When the police chases them to the cabin, the thieves, erroneously assuming that the cabin is uninhabited at this time of the year, drop the suitcase and run away. When Eddie and his friends come across the suitcase filled with money, the author Anderson uses the situation to have the characters debate right and wrong. Naturally, Eddie wants to keep the money, while his friends want to give it to the police. The change in Eddie’s thinking is set up in a very plausible way, one that most readers can identify with.

In a terrifying incident that may be uncomfortable for some young readers, Eddie and his friends confront the thieves again. Anderson, perhaps deliberately, makes the thieves comically funny which makes the middle part of the book particularly interesting. Anderson’s books typically have a significant thrill quotient and this book does not fall short. As a bonus the reader is confronted with a protagonist who is not perfect, yet, in the end makes the right decision.

Ram Subramanian/ for curled up with a good kid's book


Terror at Wolf Lake by Max Elliot Anderson is the book to read during the next heat wave. Eddy and his friends Rusty and Chet head up to Eddy’s family cabin at Wolf Lake after Christmas. It’s way below freezing outside and they have to dress in four layers before they even think about going outside. Their dads take them ice fishing, the boys build a snow fort, and Eddy crashes through thin ice and nearly drowns. It sounds like nothing more than an adventurous vacation for three friends. Except Eddy is a habitual cheater. His friends continually encourage him to change, but nothing sinks in until two thieves toss a suitcase filled with stolen cash through the roof of the boys’ snow fort. Eddy’s friends tell their dads, they turn the suitcase in to the police, and Eddy is disgusted with everyone’s honesty. This makes him even more unwilling to consider Chet’s earlier talk about how Jesus could change Eddy’s life. But when the thieves track the boys down on New Year’s Eve, Eddy must decide either to remain the way he is or learn to rely on Someone who always keeps his Promises to save him and his friends. By Alice Loweecey for


Twelve-year-old Eddy Thompson had a reputation—he cheated. At everything. All the time. And, he saw nothing wrong with it. Everyone knew when he was up to something, but they never caught him at it. His motto? "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission." Eddy's hero? John Dillenger.
Now it was the last class period before Christmas break, and an exam was scheduled. If Eddy didn't get a B or better, he would flunk history and probably be held back a year. Eddy determined that wasn't going to happen.
He told his best friends Chet and Rusty he went 'dumpster diving' at the apartment of their teacher and found crinkled up papers with the answers to the exam. And he intended to use them to pass the test.
Then, it was Christmas break. Eddy's dad had invited Eddy's friends Chet and Rusty, along with their fathers to spend a few days at the Thompson's cabin on Wolf Lake, up in Michigan. They were going to take a toboggan with them, and they'd do some ice-fishing.
Combine three twelve-year-old boys with a runaway toboggan, a blizzard, a snow fort, two inept thieves and stolen cash, you have the ingredients for a first-class adventure and some pretty terrifying moments.
But the terror doesn't end there. When the boys return from Wolf Lake they find that home isn't exactly the safest place to be, either.
Once again Max Anderson has created a fast-paced story that boys should enjoy reading. What I admire most about these books Max is writing is that he doesn't 'write down' to the kids. While the reading is easy and flows smoothly, there is absolutely no condescension evident. The dialog is typical of any similar conversation you'd hear in 'real life. I was impressed with the way Max told these stories when I read and reviewed his first book "Newspaper Caper" ( and it is just as true with this book: though written for boys aged 8-13, I thoroughly enjoyed this book - and I'm a girl and haven't been a 'Tweener' for, um, a number of years. I am still impressed. Max, keep writing!
Peggy Phifer


Terror at Wolf Lake (Tweener Press Adventure Series)
By Max Elliot Anderson
Reviewed by Kelli Glesige for Reader Views

Sometimes doing the right thing is difficult for a 12 year old boy, especially if doing the wrong thing will bring us significant monetary gain. However, it is important to have honor associated with our name and how we act and what we do, can labels us good or bad. This story is about 12 year old Eddy Thompson, also known as Eddy the cheater, and his two friends Chet and Rusty, who both attend the same church and try hard to follow the rules.Eddy lives in Crown Point, IN where John Dillenger, one of the worst gangsters in American history, was brought to trial. Eddy is fascinated with the stories of Dillenger and all that he got away with while evading the law. Eddy idolizes Dillenger and therefore, sees no harm in taking something that isn’t his, telling lies, and cheating on tests. Unfortunately, Eddy’s father also sets a bad example, continuously finding ways to beat the system, not necessarily by breaking the law, but just stretching the limits.It is Christmas break and Eddy, along with his father, invite Eddy’s two good friends, Chet and Rusty and their fathers, to the Thompson’s secluded cabin in the snowy cold of winter at Wolf Lake. All six guys have a great time ice fishing, riding toboggans, making snow ice cream and building snow forts until a crime is committed and the boys find themselves in the middle of a dangerous heist. With so much danger closing in and with the help of his friends, Eddy soon realizes how wrong it is to cheat.My favorite part of the story is when Christmas break is over and school resumes. Eddy confesses his cheating to the history teacher putting his final grade in jeopardy. Trying to make good, Eddy offers to do an extra credit report on the wrongdoings of John Dillenger and the people he has hurt. Eddy’s teacher is moved to tears and tells Eddy that no student has ever been so honest with her.“Terror at Wolf Lake” is another great book by Anderson intended for tweens with an important message to impart. I feel everyone would enjoy this story, but boys in particular, around 11 or 12 years of age, would be most captivated. I highly recommend this work by Max Elliot Anderson. It offers adventure, excitement, fun, interesting descriptions of the outdoors and a valuable message too! Parents will enjoy this story right along with their kids!


“Juvenile detention, hurt friends, school problems notwithstanding, Eddy Thompson proudly works his way through life by cheating, just as his Dad has taught him. His two best friends at school are rule-abiding, church-going Chet, and complaining, worrying Rusty. Attending school with Eddy causes his friends lots of problems, but school problems are nothing compared to the hair-raising adventures that occur when the three boys and their Dads decide to stay at the Thompson’s lake cabin and do some ice-fishing. Problems escalate from Eddy’s wild cheating schemes, to a toboggan ride that ends up in the frigid water, to bank-robbers trying to take advantage of the Thompson’s isolated cabin.

“A reluctant reader himself when young, author Max Anderson writes for young reluctant readers. Terror at Wolf Lake is an easy read. A small portion of the language challenges the reader, unobtrusively nurturing vocabulary growth. Believable adventures, recognizable characters, and a simple, eventful plot capture interest. Witnessing for the Lord and leading a lost sinner to the Lord form an underlying theme that fits well into the main plot. Terror at Wolf Lake is listed for readers ages 9-12. It will interest readers ages 8-10, and reluctant readers to 12.” -- Donna Eggett, Christian Book


Once again Max Elliot Anderson has penned a winner with "Terror at Wolf Lake." As a youth Max was a reluctant reader and as an adult his goal as a writer is to entice other reluctant readers with action-packed, realistic and timely tales for the young and young at heart. "Terror at Wolf Lake" is the story of Eddy, Rusty and Chet, three boys faced with everyday problems of our world. Eddy is surrounded by family with values not shared by the families of his friends, Eddy believes cheating is his right and his actions have labeled him a cheater. Readers will quickly identify with Anderson’s characters and with the situations they face. Max Elliot Anderson skillfully narrates plausible plots and realistic episodes. Although penned with pre and early teens in mind, Terror at Wolf Lake kept this over-the-hill grandmother entranced from page one. Readers will easily recognize themselves in the multi-dimensional characters and in the diversity of their actions. I am eager to pass this excellent, sure-to-become-a-classic, story of adventure on to my ten-year-old grandson.
Beverly J Scott


TERROR AT WOLF LAKE introduces us to Eddy Thompson, a cheater, and his two buddies Rusty and Chet who try their best to keep Eddy on the right path. Eddy's hero is John Dillinger, bank robber. After Christmas Eddy's dad invites Rusty, Chet and their fathers to go their cabin on Wolf Lake. How could Eddy or his friends know that this was a trip that would bring them face to face with real bank robbers? Could this be a life changing or life threatening event for Eddy?
TERROR AT WOLF LAKE was a good read. It was encouraging to read a story that was not only entertaining but it also covered important lessons that should be taught to today's youth. I am thoroughly enjoying these books from Max Elliot Anderson, and I hope that the author keeps them coming. Reviewed by April Lowry


I anxiously opened the package, curled up with my afghan in the recliner, and began to read. I was greeted by the familiar writing style that I enjoyed in Newspaper Caper – a style that any young reader can easily read and relate to. I quickly devoured this book, my mind easily spinning in to creation the words so descriptively penned by master story teller Max Elliot Anderson. I honestly enjoyed reading this story, as much as I enjoyed the first book. I look forward to the future books by Mr. Anderson. I believe that Mr. Anderson has launched a new series that will draw in many a reluctant reader. It is easy to be pulled in to the story and to be engaged by his writing. Many readers will see themselves in the characters that grace the pages of this book. Another excellent book Mr. Anderson! Keep up the good work! We look forward to future releases! Trisha Bleau


Eddy Thompson is known for only one thing. Cheating. He has cheated on everything: games, tests, schoolwork, and much more! But it’s all he really knows. After all, his father and mother both cheated people out of their money and didn’t see anything wrong with it.

When Eddy’s father decides to take Eddy and his two best friends, Chet and Rusty, and their fathers to a secluded cabin at Wolf Lake, Michigan, Eddy is excited. They’re planning on ice fishing over Christmas break. But something is going to happen at Wolf Lake that will change his life. It isn’t the brutal cold. It isn’t even when Eddy falls through the ice. It isn’t even when two scary men arrive at their remote cabin. What is it?

Eddy, Chet, and Rusty are realistic characters who could be anyone you know. My eleven-year-old son, Michael, found parts of himself in each of the kids. The suspense packed into the book is certain to keep your child reading. Geared for eight to twelve-year-olds, Terror At Wolf Lake even held my attention!

I was thrilled to discover Terror At Wolf Lake actually happened at Wolf Lake, Michigan. I live only about a mile from Wolf Lake and my husband and sons have gone fishing there many times. This made the story more realistic for us. Young readers will be sure to enjoy Terror At Wolf Lake. This is a book for the keeper shelf. Your children will read it over and over. You might even want to save it for your grandchildren. Laura V. Hilton


Eddy Thompson cheats on anything, anytime, anywhere.

So begins the Max Elliot Anderson's second adventure book. It is winter in Indiana & the Christmas Holidays are finally coming. There's just one thing Eddy has to overcome, the end of term exam in history. It doesn't matter that they've been studying one of his heroes, John Dillenger, he's not at all sure he's going to do well. However, Eddy has found the perfect way to ace the test.

Eddy is a charismatic lad, & while he is liked, he isn't trusted. He doesn't care. “Everything I know about beating the system I learned from my dad.” (Page 6) He is constantly working the odds, cutting corners, always on the look out for the freebie. He is fast becoming a master cheater, which neither of his school friends, Chet & Rusty, participate in or like.

At last school is out & Eddy's father invites Chet & Rusty & their fathers to drive up to a cabin he knows on a lake in Michigan for some ice fishing. There is a ton of snow falling & this trip is going to be an adventure.

Adventure it is; good boyish fun with ice & great meals. & then the world comes to their isolated cabin making the three boys face some terrifying choices. What should they do? Eddy knows exactly, & in taking the lead, he draws his pals into a dangerous web of thievery & danger, which follows them all the way home.

How does Eddy see the errors of his ways? What does he do to change his life? Couched in simple, brief & effective Christian morals, as told by children to children, Terror at Wolf Lake, becomes a cautionary tale in more ways than one!

A fine adventure story with something to teach about ethical living. In the beginning I was like Rusty & Chet, fascinated by Eddy's reasoning about taking advantage & not counting the cost, to anyone.

The final chapters when Eddy sets out in search of his redemption are just as exciting at the rest of the adventure.

Well worth the read! Rebecca Brown / RebeccasiReads


For twelve-year old Andy Washburn, it seems his family has been going on the same fishing vacation in Canada forever. Even though his best friend and cousin, CJ, vacations with him, it is a dreary trip where nothing exciting ever happens. So, naturally, he cannot share his parents’ excitement for the same trip this year, even when CJ, a computer aficionado, promises to bring the latest games. To break the monotony, the cousins and their sisters take a break from fishing on the second day of the trip and decide to explore the woods. There they stumble upon a massive poaching operation, where the poachers use airplanes to ferret scores of animals under cover of darkness.Readers aware of Max Elliot Anderson’s books should now be familiar with his fast paced narrative where the action unfolds briskly, the dialog is crisp, and the twists and turns are ubiquitous. The current book should not disappoint Anderson’s fans. As Andy, CJ, and their sometimes reluctant sisters try to thwart the poachers, they veer from one excitement to another, often just a step away from the villains. CJ’s computer wizardry and Andy’s navigational skills come in handy and the gang thinks of a clever way to prevent the poachers from completing their nefarious deeds.Anderson does a great job of keeping the action going at a fast pace, probably knowing fully well that the average young reader would rather be working the controls of a video game console than plough through printed text. At the end of each chapter, he typically introduces a twist or an exciting plot turn that makes this a one-sit read. The actions of the kids, while daring, do not defy credibility. This is a fine addition to the author’s list of books and a good introduction to the new reader.

Ram Subramanian/for curled up with a good kid's book

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW**************************

Book: North Woods Poachers
Author: Max Elliot Anderson
Cover illustrator: Colin Kernes
Publisher: Comfort Publishing, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1-936695-05-8

Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable) Reading level: Ages
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

For more information e-mail

Do you know what a poacher is? Andy Washburn, almost twelve, and his cousin CJ, the same age, are making their annual two-week fishing vacation trip with their families from their home in the United States to Dore Lake in northern Saskatchewan, Canada. They have been doing this as long as they can remember, but neither boy really likes to fish all that much, so this year they plan for things to be different.

They hope that their parents will agree to let them fish a day or two then be allowed to explore the area around their cabins. At the border crossing station, their trucks are searched and they see another vehicle out of which a crate of wood turtles and two bags of eagle feathers are taken by the authorities. Poachers!

When they arrive at Dore Lake, some strange things start happening. A couple of black planes fly in to a nearby deserted lodge after dark and out again before morning on several nights. While playing in the woods, the boys and their nine-year-old sisters Sarah and Jessica climb an old forest fire watch tower, and with his dad's telescope, which he took without permission, Andy sees some things which lead him to the conclusion that the lodge houses poachers. As they investigate further, they are chased by men on ATVs through the woods and on jet skis over the lake, as well as by
vicious guard dogs.

CJ is a computer whiz who tests new products for his father's electronics store and has brought a lot of the newest gadgets along.
They come in very handy. But will the boys get caught? And will
their families be safe?

This is the second book by author Max Elliot Anderson that I have read, and both have been great. Max uses an exciting and adventuresome story to appeal to struggling, reluctant readers. Yet, there is more than just an interesting tale here. The Washburn cousins, who are also best friends, are motivated by a sense of justice at the mistreatment of the animals by the poachers. There is also the importance of family traditions and respecting one's parents. And it is realistic. The kids are not "perfect." They make some mistakes, but the boys learn the valuable lesson that one must be careful in striving to do good not to use the wrong means. It is always enjoyable to read a good book which pictures happy, two-parent families who, in spite of any problems that may arise, love each other and learn to solve their difficulties. I would happily take an Anderson book over much of what is palmed off as young people's literature today.

North Woods Poachers (Tweener Press Adventure Series)By Max Elliot Anderson Reviewed by Kelli Glesige for Reader Views
I found “North Woods Poachers” to be a thoroughly enjoyable and well written storywith a wholesome message meant to be enjoyed primarily by young teens, particularlyboys, in the 11-12 year age range, but I truly think anyone will enjoy it. Max ElliotAnderson shares a good message on the importance of having and establishing familytraditions while keeping a reluctant reader with a short attention span enthralled with thequestion, “What will happen next?”This story is about the two Washburn families going on their annual camping vacation inCanada, far from civilization, near the lovely Dore Lake. Andy and Jessica are cousins toC.J. and Jessica. Both the boys are age 12 and the girls are both age 9, and they are allgood friends and get along well. As what typically happens when kids get older, Andy,the athlete of the bunch, no longer feels he wants to go on the trip, dreading a few weeksof doing nothing but being bored with fishing. C.J. is a computer and electronics whiz,with a father that owns a computer solutions company and brings along all kinds of newand fun things for the guys to try out. Of course, Andy soon forgets that he didn’t wantto make the trip when he and C.J. have a great time with all the new gadgets.As the families are crossing the Canadian border in their vehicles, guards are stopping allthe trucks and are inspecting the contents and the people inside. The families learn thatthe guards are checking for poachers involved in organized crime. The curiosity of C.J.and Andy are now on high alert, and they keep their eyes open for any signs of poachers.It isn’t long until the boys do spy some odd things going on, but they keep it tothemselves until they can prove something beyond a doubt. The boys learn about theharmful things poachers do via the Internet, which convinces C.J. and Andy they havecome upon some poachers in the act near the Washburn’s secluded vacation cabin. Theadventure takes off from here, and all four kids work to solve the mystery of the loud,black float-planes with blinking lights which take off, land and skim the water at fullspeed. The children encounter some very real and alarmingly dangerous situations,especially the boys.On a lighter note but just as interesting, the Washburn cousins learn all about the auroraborealis, or Northern Lights, how catching Big Wally is the goal of every fisherman onthe lake but yet how vulnerable any fish really is out of water, and how Jesus himself wasa fisherman. They also get a very thorough lesson in the dangers of illegal poaching andhow wrong and hurtful it is, especially to the animals. And finally, the families learnhow important carrying on traditions can be, even though we may not see the importanceat first.In my opinion, this book has all the important elements of a truly great work. I canrecommend this book completely to any parent looking for a good story for their tween,particularly boys, but girls will like it too. Anderson makes you feel you are right therein the woods with the families, seeing all the beautiful scenery and bright lights rightalong with them! I fully enjoyed this story!


Media Reviews:In North Woods Poachers by Max Elliot Anderson, Andy Washburn is packing to go on a Canadian camping trip. His parents, including his uncle's family, love the yearly trip. The only thing he and his cousin CJ dislike is fishing.
While the rest of the family goes fishing, the boys have other activities to keep them busy. CJ is electronically inclined, and he obtains free electronics to test. Once tested, CJ gives the company a report on the equipment's performance. The equipment turns out to be useful when the boys venture across the Canadian border.
After pitching their tents, Andy hears on the radio that a poachers ring had just been busted near where they are camping. It soon becomes obvious there are more poachers in the area, and danger lurks around every corner. Can the boys use their wit and electronic devices to capture the poachers?
Max Elliot Anderson has no use for boring books. He loves to write action and adventure that keep readers glued to his books. The Tweener Press Adventure Series takes place in different settings, with new characters, experiencing various and exciting adventures. This thrilling book will keep readers on their toes. It was hard to put down once started. Good moral values are demonstrated throughout the book. Highly recommended. -- Jessica Loughner, Christian Book


Young mystery fans will be entertained by this story set deep in the thickly wooded forests of Saskatchewan, Canada. There 11-year-old Andy Washburn, his cousin CJ, their younger sisters, and parents, encounter secrets and find unexpected dangers interrupting their usually predictable annual fishing trip.
Andy’s avid curiosity is ignited by mysterious planes which take off and land at odd hours across Dore Lake. The young amateur detective enlists CJ’s high-tech expertise to expose a ring of animal poachers.
Written in the manner of a good, old-fashioned “Hardy Boys”-style mystery, this tale includes a clear lesson about obeying God’s rules of right and wrong—rules that apply not only to the law-breaking poachers, but to the boys as well. Their desire to catch criminals leads them to bend the law too, though they appropriately atone for their wrong choices by the story’s end.—Liz Duckworth CBA Marketplace


The " North Woods Poachers" is a really exciting story. When I finished reading it I wanted to read it again. It's better than Nancy Drew mystery stories. The characters were so real that it seemed as if I was there as an onlooker - not just reading a book. There was just enough danger without being too scary. This book is perfect for kids who like mystery stories.
Hope you like the reavew. Kaiti Wawrzyniak - age 11


Thank you for writing this wonderful book! I read the whole book in one
afternoon. I just HAD to know what happened! I kept holding my page
and running to tell my Mom what was happening next and what I suspected
might soon happen!

I really liked the adventures of this book. I was afraid at times but I
had to keep on reading because it was so intriguing. It felt scary, good
and exciting all at the same time! I would really recommend my friends
to read it! I learned more about justice and doing the right thing.
Thanks for a great read!

I'd love to read more of these books! Keep writing more like this one!
Caleb Voskamp
8 year old boy


North Woods Poachers takes cousins Andy and C.J. Washburn on an annual fishing expedition to Canada with their families. Bored by all the fishing, the boys secretly hope to do some exploring on their own this year.

As the families pass through the Canadian border on their way to the cabin they have rented for years and years, they are stopped for the first time ever, because 'security has been heightened by the border guards on the lookout for "animal poachers."' The boys' curiosity is aroused. C.J., an electronic gadget genius, hooks up his computer and they find out all they can about 'animal poachers' through the Internet. The first few days at the cabins are relatively quiet, except for two huge, noisy, black floatplanes that roar into the quiet peaceful lake each night after dark and are gone by daylight. The occupants of the nearby village and the boys' parents are under the impression that the owners of these planes must be rich guys wanting privacy. The boys think something fishy is going on and decide to investigate.

Finally allowed to explore after their 'duty day of fishing with their fathers', Andy and C.J. find way more excitement than they bargained for. They find themselves lone witnesses to an international 'animal poaching' ring. As they gather clues (without any thought at all to their or their families' safety) they are chased by men in all terrain vehicles, outsmart big mean guard dogs with seconds to spare, and are almost overtaken in their small two man dingy by powerful sea-doos - in the dark. The poachers are captured because of Andy and C.J.'s investigation. The boys are heroes. Their parents are proud of them, though somewhat concerned at all the risks they took. Andy and C.J. learn valuable lessons on safety and morals – they were lucky this time, but things could have turned out differently; and it does not pay to try to cheat the system.

North Woods Poachers is a wholesome story that focuses on the fun loving adventurousness of young boys. It's well written and moves along at a nice pace while giving just enough information to keep readers guessing.


It was that time again—the annual fishing trip. Every summer it was the same. The two Washburn families packed up their identical over-sized pickup trucks and headed for Canada. Only this time Andy Washburn determined it was going to be different. He didn't quite know what, or how he was going to work it out, but he was NOT going to spend two weeks in a boat fishing.

Andy and CJ, his cousin, both approaching their twelfth birthdays, conspired to find ways to get out of all that fishing. There had to be something else they could do up there instead. Even if they had to include Sarah, Andy's nine-year-old sister, and Jessica, CJ's sister, they'd do it - whatever it took.

CJ's dad owned a computer solutions company so CJ had access to all kinds of gadgets and he made good use of them. He was a whiz at anything electronic. So, while the two families were on the road north, the boys communicated between vehicles with a walkie-talkie. CJ even had a laptop computer and a wireless connection, as well as an auxiliary power supply. He had everything, and this made the prospect of the next two weeks a little more exciting. Or so Andy thought.

After arriving at the lake, the boys struck a deal with their dads. They'd fish for the first couple of days, then the boys could go off and explore the area. This was made even more tantalizing when two float-planes landed on the lake, after dark, and disappeared into the cove around the bend from the Washburn's cabins, and took off again before sunrise the next morning. The boys determined to find out what that was all about. When Andy remembered that at the Canada/US border they'd been stopped and searched, another vehicle had been found to have illegal turtles hidden in the spare-tire well. Andy was sure these were poachers landing and taking off in the dark.

When the four children set out on their mission, they have no idea what they're getting themselves into. They find an old forest watch tower which, of course, they have to climb. From there they can see into the lodge on the other side of the cove where the two strange float-planes had gone. They return to the tower the next day with a telescope that belongs to Andy's dad. What they see and discover turns into immediate danger for these four kids.

Max Elliot Anderson has woven another great tale of adventure, ingenuity, fun and danger. How the boys solve this mystery, with the ingenious creativity of CJ's technical mind, is both clever and quite believable. This one will keep the reader on the edge of the seat, eagerly turning the next page. Max, you've done it again. Like the first two books from Max, Newspaper Caper and Terror At Wolf Lake, I can't say enough good things about this one, either.

Peggy Phifer


As was the case with previous books by Max Elliot Anderson and Tweener Press I found this book to be yet another excellent read. I again found myself drawn in to the story that master storyteller Mr. Anderson weaves with his realistic word choices. North Woods Poachers captivated me, capturing my attention from the first chapter and holding me spellbound until the end of the book. Anderson 's writing style is one that is easy to read and very realistic. Younger readers will find that they are able to relate to the characters in the book as they are able to read the words so easily. This is a book that young boys will find to be highly entertaining. They won't want to put the books down. Anderson has classroom with reluctant readers I have seen the need for quality high interest, low readability books. Anderson 's books are easy to read and have a great story line that breeds high, high interest. I am very impressed by this book and more so with this author. I recommend this book to any parent seeking reading material for reluctant readers or avid readers – all will love the story contained with North Woods Poachers. Trisha Bleau


North Woods Poachers
Tweener Reluctant Reader Series, No. 3
By Max Elliot Anderson

This story takes us to a remote lake in Canada with eleven-year-old Andy Washburn, his cousin CJ and their families. The yearly camping and fishing trip has become boring to the adventurous boys, but they hope to liven it up with some exploring. CJ is a computer whiz, and tests new products for his father's company, so he brings this year’s newest games and gadgets along, and they sure come in handy.

The kids uncover the answer to the mysterious, black planes that land on the lake just at dark, and take off again before daylight, but they also stir up some serious danger when they discover that there is a ring of wild animal poachers operating out of the old abandoned lodge.

There is a clear moral lesson about obeying God’s rules of right and wrong, and how it affects the boys too, when they do not apply the rules to their own actions. The Christian concepts are presented in the context of the story without being preachy.

Anderson really knows how to put the excitement into his books for kids. This story is so easy to read and so compelling that the kids forget they don't like to read and just keep on turning the pages to find out what happens next. Your favorite child will easily relate to these stimulating characters and share their adventures willingly. Several more books in this series are slated for publication this fall.


Andy Washburn has a very athletic family who love to spend every summer fishing and camping. Andy is sick of it all and decides he is going to bring his laptop computer to relieve what he experiences as the same old boring summer activities. His cousin, C. J., however, entices him with the idea that they can act like they are going fishing and then take off to explore for some different adventure. Little do they realize how Andy's laptop and C. J.'s plan will bring them into the middle of a very dangerous activity.

As they enter Canada, they observe the Canadian police examining a cage in another inspection station. The officer explains to them that there is a highly illegal poaching trade happening, which consists of thieves who steal animals and animal parts in order to make some big money.

Although it's pretty predictable which way this story is going, it really doesn't spoil the story which Anderson tells with the usual exciting plot and intrigue all the way to the end. Andy and his cousin get so caught up in their discovery that they forget how crime begins, in breaking rules that are meant to protect those humans and animals around them. Finding they are as guilty as the caught criminals, Andy and C. J. don't just realize how important their own acts are but in a very mature manner realize that their faith is designed as a perfect plan to insure fairness and justice, one that requires examining one's self before accusing others of criminal behavior.

Anderson manages to convey faith, mystery, and lessons without making the reader nauseous about it. He's a talented author whom this reader knows will continue to entertain young readers and perhaps make a difference in their future.


Reviewed by Viviane Crystal


To be republished by Comfort Publishing


How refreshing it is to find a mystery story written for 8 - 12 year olds that is relevant to modern times and yet retains an old-fashioned flavor. My eight-year-old read it through twice in one day, and I must admit I found it held my own attention and even elicited several chuckles along the way. One of my pet peeves is fiction written for this age group. So often things are glorified that are better left unsaid: dating, defiance, "naughtiness," talking back to parents. So many times the children are portrayed as smarter than the adults. So many times the parents don't understand the children and so the children must go to other adult figures (grandparent, youth leader, teacher, janitor, anyone but a parent) for advice. In Mountain Cabin Mystery three twelve-year-old boys have been taking a class in wilderness survival and have passed a test in order to qualify for a wilderness camp in the Colorado mountains. Each of the boys has a distinct personality, without straying into clich‚: the planner and natural leader, the worrier, and the one who doesn't quite play by the rules, though he's more mischievous than rebellious. The boys are respectful, the parents are wise (for the most part, but also human and at one point in the story, played for humor), the other adult figures are appropriately placed, and Christian themes are deftly woven into the story, not hammered in. Because two of the boys do not follow instructions, all three end up in trouble, separated from the main body of campers, and by not following the lessons they learned, they get deeper into trouble. They remember their lessons when it's too late (Don't go off the trail! When you're lost, stay put!), but keep on going, drawing on the knowledge they acquired in their class, making choices to the best of their young ability, and getting into - and out of - a very frightening and challenging situation with youthful ingenuity and a little bit of Providence. As a result, they help a great many other people... but I don't want to spoil the story for you.
You'll just have to go and read it for yourself.

Reviewed By: Jean Hall - Eclectic Homeschool Online


For twelve-year-old Scott Holcomb and his friends Al and Benji, the chance to go to a wilderness camp in the Rockies is a once in a lifetime opportunity. They had been turned down the previous two years and so their acceptance to this year’s camp is indeed a joyful occasion. If they only knew what awaited them, their joy would surely be tempered.Max Elliot Anderson takes his reader through a thrilling, albeit frightening, ride that has the three young protagonists lose their way and stumble onto a sinister plot to cause untold damage to the country. The intrepid boys – at least two of them, for Benji is a worrywart who is constantly on the edge – find an ingenious way to thwart the villains and return the trio to safety. As in his previous books, Anderson keeps the descriptions to a minimum and the action moving. The characters are all believable and their actions and motivations entirely plausible.The author himself was a reluctant reader as a child. To him, the style of most children’s books “was boring, the dialog sometimes sparse, or when it was used, it seemed too adult.” He set out to write books that overcame these deficiencies and the current book is fine proof of his success. The dialog crackles with wit and smart repartees and the emphasis is on action. The reader is apt to read the entire book at one setting as the mystery unfolds and the denouement is very satisfying. Even reluctant readers won’t be able to put this book down.

Ram Subramanian/for curled up with a good kid's book


Reviewer Carolyn R. Scheidies

Scott, Benji and Al studied for two years to prepare themselves for the wilderness hike. They even passed a test on survival and wilderness techniques in order to be accepted. But all it took was fog and a desire to take a picture that took them off trail and away from the others to get lost. Scott had to use all his hard-won knowledge to keep himself and his friends safe when they couldn’t find their way and when a bear took after them. It took courage to cross the dilapidated bridge. But it took the most courage of all when they found a deserted cabin that wasn’t, and men who were anything but harmless hunters.

Scott must rely not just on his training and wits, but on his faith to get them all out of danger. But something is going on. Will Scott find the answer before everything hits the fan?


"Max Eliot Anderson's latest book in the Tweener adventure series is Mountain Cabin Mystery. Three friends, Scott, Al, and Benji, get accepted to a wilderness training camp in the Rockies. But this summertime trip into the mountains to learn outdoor survival skills is only the backdrop to a rollicking adventure that climbs up your spine and hangs by its fingertips from the cliff of your skull." Thomas Fortenberry – MIDWEST Book Review


Reviewer: Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA) - Mountain Cabin Mystery finds that Scott and his friends on a wilderness camping trip when curiosity and a Kodak moment causes them to leave the trail. That's when the find themselves surrounded by a dense fog, facing a menacing bear, finding a remote cabin that seems to offer shelter --- proves to be a trapped encounter with terrorists! A very nicely crafted, attentention riveting adventure tale, Mountain Cabin Mystery is especially recommended reading for children ages 10 to 14.


by Laura V. Hilton
Dancing Word Reviewer
Title: Mountain Cabin Mystery
Author: Max Elliot Anderson
Genre: Inspirational/Juvenile Fiction
Twelve-year-old Scott Holcomb sent his application in for the wilderness adventure three years in a row. This year he timed it so that his application and those of his two best friends, Al and Benji, arrive as soon as the company sponsoring the trip started accepting them. His ploy worked. Scott, Al, and Benji, are accepted into the program--if they pass a wilderness survival exam.
When they passed the test, all three boys were ecstatic. Finally, they get to live their dream. But when they arrive at the mountains, it doesn’t take long for curiosity and a Kodak moment to lure them off the trail, away from their group, and into the wilderness. Surrounded by a dense fog, they can’t find their group.
Making some errors in judgment, the boys soon find themselves in serious trouble. Will their ingenious thinking help the searchers to find them? Or will they be bear bait?
Mountain Cabin Mystery is an exciting read, guaranteed to keep your tween boy entertained for hours. My son lives for these books to arrive. Scott and his friends make some decisions that are not very intelligent, but that is realistic for boys their age. I did find some of the things that happened in the book a stretch of the imagination. Even then I couldn’t put Mountain Cabin Mystery down, and I am anxiously awaiting the next book. I liked that they showed some distress symbols in the back of the book for boys to experiment with.
Mountain Cabin Mystery is written for boys between the ages of eight and twelve who don’t like to read (but those who do like to read love them too!) The Tweener Press books should be available at a Christian Bookstore. Pick up a copy for a tween boy in your life today!


Max Elliot Anderson, writer of Adventures for readers ages 8 to 13, has penned another winner with “Mountain Cabin Mystery.” Within hours of its arrival in my mail, I had put aside my other chores to sit down and read the fourth book of Max’s Mystery Series. At one time, Anderson was a reluctant reader. He has successfully exceeded in his goal to turn other reluctant readers into eager ones. Although his stories are aimed at pre and early teens, this Grandmother has thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of Max Elliott Anderson’s books.
Scott and his best friends, Al and Ben, have been dreaming of a wilderness camping adventure. They each completed and passed the wilderness training classes and are eagerly awaiting the response to their application to the Colorado Wilderness Camping Adventure. Delighted to finally receive their acceptance notice, they prepare, unaware that they will experience more on the trip than expected. I don’t want to give away Anderson’s action-packed, riveting plot, but I promise, you will not be able to put down the book until the final page. Max Elliott Anderson’s books are so interesting I hope the publisher will consider printing boxed sets as gifts for young readers. Anderson’s previous titles – Newspaper Caper, Terror at Wolf Lake, and North Woods Poachers - are equally entertaining and action oriented. Max tells me he has four more books ready for release this year. Max Elliot Anderson’s books are destined to become classics along with such greats as Tom Sawyer, The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Anderson is a talented writer; his books should be available in every local and middle school library. I am privileged to be on this author’s list of reviewers and look forward eagerly to his next adventure.
Beverly J Scott


Mountain Cabin Mystery
By Max Elliot Anderson

Reviewed by Kelli Glesige for Reader Views

“Mountain Cabin Mystery” is an adventure about Scott, Al and Benji; three young friends
who are taking a required wilderness class with the hopes of being accepted on a summer
backpacking trip in the Colorado Rockies. After much work and being turned down
twice already, the twelve year old boys are selected to be a part of the Wilderness
Wanderers group specifically labeled as Timber Wolves.
This story by Max Elliot Anderson is packed with excitement and danger, just what a
reluctant reader might take to! The boys do many things right, but they also neglect some
of the important rules learned about backpacking in dangerous territory. Brian is one of
trail leaders who is also a youth pastor at his church in Denver. The young man promises
to share the research he is doing for his Master’s Degree on what he has learned about
environmental issues versus Christian issues in dealing with the environment, as this
becomes a topic of discussion and concern for Scott. In my opinion, this was a minor
subplot, but some may find it a relevant topic.
Anderson deals with some very real and frightening issues in “Mountain Cabin Mystery.”
The boys mistakenly find themselves on a restricted military zone where the U.S. Army
is conducting mountain training exercises on a search and capture mission. The
simulated drills are cancelled when the boys stumble upon terrorists with maps and
satellite pictures ready to wipe out important targets around the city of Denver. The boys
learn that sleeper cells exist in nearby locations, just waiting for the signal to do as much
damage as possible to innocent victims.
The boys ingeniously use a harmless laser pointer and a flash camera to lure the terrorists
from hiding, making the terrorists think they are being stalked with a high powered
weapon with a laser sight. The boys foil the terrorists’ escape by flattening the tires of
the escape vehicle. Scott, Al and Benji are eventually awarded by authorities for saving
many lives and for doing the right thing in the face of danger. The underlying message of
those searching for the young campers brings to mind God’s words, “My lamb was lost
and I’d do anything to find you,” says Benji’s father.
This book seemed quite intense, dealing with dangers we unfortunately face on a daily
basis. Anderson dedicated this book to the memory of 9/11, and I found this to be a
moving gesture. The story will definitely keep you riveted while frantically turning
pages to learn the outcome!
Although fiction, I recommend “Mountain Cabin Mystery” to any beginner interested in
backpacking in the wilderness. It is filled with good information about safety in the
wilderness, what to do in case of emergencies, and what can happen if specific directions
are not followed. This would make a great read for a youngster getting ready for camp. I
recommend reading this book to all who’ve enjoyed Anderson’s other books, for this is
one of his best.

Mountain Cabin Mystery
Author: Max Elliot Anderson 
Review  by: Trisha Bleau

The latest release by talented storyteller Max Elliot Anderson is a wonderfully entertaining read. When I began reading the book I found myself unable to put it down. I read the book from start to finish in one sitting. I could not stop reading even for meals. I was drawn in from the start by the way Mr. Anderson writes. He writes in a free flowing style that is very easy to read. He writes in such a way that the reader does not even realize that they are moving through the book so quickly and smoothly. Younger readers will find this book to be one they can easily read and enjoy. They won't feel bagged down by a book that is too challenging or difficult to read. Rather they will find an enjoyable entertaining story that is realistic and speaks to them in a manner that is consistent with how they speak themselves. Parents will find Anderson 's books to be a great way to get their kids to read. So many parents have to fight to get their kids to read. Try this book if that is the typical routine in your home when it comes to reading. I am sure you will find that these wonderful books are met with enthusiasm and are welcomed. Simply try it out for yourself and let the positive writing style of Max Elliot Anderson engage your tween readers.


After three years of acute disappointment, 12-year-old Scott and his pals Al and Benji are finally accepted into the "Wilderness Wanderers," a guided one-week hike into the Colorado Rockies. The boys had taken classes on survival and had to pass a strict test to be certified and enable them to go on the hike.

Their excitement knows no bounds, but practical Scott helps keep his buddies in line by reminding them about all they've learned, even going so far as to have a 'trial run' at his home before they head out. Convinced they're fully prepared, they load up into Scott's family 4-wheel-drive SUV and head for the mountains.

The boys take an instant liking to their guides John and Brian and their first day and night on the trail is a breeze. On the second day, the boys found themselves at the end of the line. Brian deserts them momentarily and when Benji spots a deer they leave the path and get separated from their hiking group. A dense fog envelops them and they lose the trail, taking a wrong turn at a fork in the road. Their adventures begin.

An encounter with a grizzly, a dangerous rickety suspension bridge over a bottomless gorge, a cabin filled with terrorists, and a near miss from a plunge over a sheer cliff, where the boys had been sitting on a rock taking turns to keep watch during the night, all contribute to another great read from Max Elliot Anderson.

Though the three boys broke the rules by leaving the trail, they quickly remember all the rest of their survival training and show unique ingenuity as they face the challenges confronting them as they try to find their way back to the group – even though it looks more and more hopeless.

I admire the way Max writes. Though these books are aimed at the Tweener bunch (boys 8-13) he writes in such a way that adults, like me, can really enjoy the story, too. Max doesn't "write down" to this age group. There is no condescension, no attempt to make this an 'easy' read. Yet is flows well and the pages get turned in rapid succession. I strongly urge you to get Mountain Cabin Mystery, the fourth book from Max Elliot Anderson. Another great job, Max. Congratulations.

Peggy Phifer
Editor, Wordsmith Shoppe Weekly


Wilderness survival is about more than just coming out alive! It's about respecting both the animals and humans who populate an area that can give either great joy or horrific terror. So 12 year-old Scott Holcomb and his friends, Al and Benji, are super-thrilled when they finally get accepted to a wilderness survival camp. But Benji, a constant worry-wart, now meets situations where he is challenged to rely on the safe protection of God as well as the skills he will need to survive the dangers ahead.

Those dangers include a fog which will cause them to get lost, a huge, menacing bear, a steep gorge and cliff, and a bunch of terrorists planning to commit a devastating act!

Typically, Anderson 's characters wind up in a happily ever after ending type of situation, but that hardly negates the tense impact of this author's exciting stories! The reader is led to genuinely care about the main characters and roots for them through every dangerous second! Max Anderson, again you continue not to disappoint this reader!

In a world of TV and media coverage where violence and crime seem to win the day, Mountain Cabin Mystery is a refreshing, thrilling story that also concentrates on the values that ensure a meaningful and peaceful life – yes, with plenty of mystery and adventure!

Keep that imagination rolling, Max Anderson!

Reviewed by Viviane Crystal Courtesy Crystal Reviews / The Best Reviews


Scott, Al and Ben have completed and passed wilderness training classes in hopes of being accepted for a Colorado Wilderness Camping Adventure. When their hopes are realized, and they actually start the outdoor experience of a lifetime, they begin to see what all the preparation was about. As they boys get further into the wilderness of the Colorado Rockies, they leave the trail for a great photo, and somehow get lost from the other hikers.

This book has everything; dense fog, an angry, menacing bear, a dangerous decrepit suspension bridge, the fear of being lost, terrorists, and oh, boy, are the folks going to be upset!

Anderson is a genius at exciting plots, and sympathetic, interesting characters. The boys believe in God, and the Christian concepts are integrated throughout the story, but without being preachy. The lessons are presented gently in this fast-paced action adventure.

This reluctant reader series would be ideal for sharing and reading aloud for family time or bedtime stories. They would make wonderful gifts for hours of reading pleasure for your favorite tweener. Beverly Rowe Another Review at MyShelf.Com


Review by Cheryl Snyder


Reading level: Ages 8-13

Scott, Benji, and Al go to a wilderness adventure camp in Colorado and even though they get lost, they survive and also find a terrorist group in the mountains. The group is stopped and many others are arrested worldwide, putting an end to a potential disaster. As heroes, the boys return to their families both humbled and honored.

The Christian themes of praying for protection and guidance from God and of using natural resources wisely are threaded throughout the story. They are not present to the point of being preachy, which is good. The adventure that unfolds is exciting and keeps the reader engaged. I found myself reacting to events and wanting to keep reading despite interruptions around me. I think pre-teen boys would like this book. because the three boys are normal, believable characters. The facts presented in the book about wilderness camping, using signals, and what to do when faced with various dangers make the book even more believable and interesting.


Twelve-year-old Scott Holcomb and his friends Al and Benji have finally been accepted to go on a wilderness adventure hike. Before they go, they have to take a course which outlines the dangers, and what should be undertaken, in case anything happens.
At the start of their hike they were listening and following the rules. It wasn't until Benji thought he saw a deer that he and Al took off after it, trying to get a picture. That is where they broke the first rule, never go off the path. Scott yelled for them to come back, but they didn't listen and when they finally return to the trail to look for the other hikers, they couldn't see anyone. They proceeded in the direction they thought was right, only to find out they were lost. Just when they thought things couldn't get any worse, other obstacles present themselves creating even more fear.


MOUNTAIN CABIN MYSTERY is about an adventure that three preteen boys go on and how their faith in God and each other keeps them safe. Although there is a lot of reference to God and faith it is not preachy and there is enough action to keep you turning the pages. If you are up for an adventure, this is the book to read.

Reviewed by Kelly Ross

To be republished by Comfort Publishing
Once again, Max Elliott Anderson has penned a winner with his captivating new novel "Big Rig Rustlers." Anderson is a talented writer of adventurous narratives for tweeners, readers between the ages of 8 to 13. "Big Rig Rustlers" is a timely tale packed with non-stop action. Anderson uses: realistic dialogue to move his story from episode to episode, authentic action to maintain interest, and plots that hold the readers interest from first page to last. When Todd and his sister, Amanda are invited to spend spring break with their aunt and uncle at their Wyoming ranch, they are delighted. Much about ranch life is different from what they expect, including their cousin Drew. With a masterful grasp of tweener's and especially reluctant readers, Anderson weaves a tale of ranch life including cattle round-up, branding, a rattlesnake incident and mysterious rustlers. It is obvious that GOD is Max Elliot Anderson's muse. Beverly J Scott
Todd and Amanda’s father called a family meeting. Usually when their father called a family meeting it was because something exciting was going to take place. Once they were all there, Todd’s dad announced that they would be going to their Uncle Reid’s ranch in Wyoming during their spring break for the spring roundup.

Once off the plane, they were on the lookout for their uncle. Of course they recognized him right away. It was at that time as well that the kids found out they had another 300 miles to go before reaching the ranch. Along the way the kids slept until their Uncle Reid yelled and slammed on his brakes. The kids didn’t know what was going on until their uncle turned on his high beams and there, in the middle of the road, stood a huge steer. That was just the beginning of Todd and Amanda’s adventures.

BIG RIG RUSTLERS is a story about a brother and sister’s adventures at a ranch and the lessons learned through those adventures. The novel was full of action and very entertaining to read, especially seeing two city kids out on a ranch. Mr. Anderson has written into his books all kinds of lessons for kids to learn. He uses scenario’s in which kids can relate to and understand.

Reviewed by Kelly Ross
Big Rig Rustlers
by Max Elliot Anderson
ages 9-12 160 pages

For city slickers Todd and Amanda, the chance to spend a week at their uncle’s ranch in Wyoming is fraught with equal parts excitement and worry. The excitement part comes from the chance to see and live the life of ranchers. The worry part, particularly for ten-year-old Amanda, is having to spend time away from their parents in an unfamiliar place. The children soon get used to living in a rugged cabin surrounded by vast expanses of nothing and enjoy hobnobbing with their cousin Drew.

Max Elliot Anderson sets up the rapidly unfolding plot by means of several action packed set pieces. The ranch is in the imminent danger of being hit upon by rustlers who have mounted a big-scale operation in the area. Adding to the intrigue is the character of Travis, a young ranch worker with a troubled past who may or may not be helping the rustlers. Anderson maintains the suspense till the very end and offers a very believable and satisfying denouement.

There is an interesting subtext in the story that adds a particular nuance to the book. As twelve-year-old Todd uncovers Travis’ past and attempts to find evidence to link the ranch hand’s involvement with the rustlers, he sees a parallel between his own actions and those of the villains. For Todd is not a pristine child. He has a habit of running with the wrong crowd at school and has broken the law several times, albeit through minor trespasses. He has never been caught but carries the guilt with him to Wyoming. Anderson juxtaposes the motives of the rustlers with that of Todd and allows the young boy to resolve it in a brave and courageous way. Since the book is targeted to young readers, the resolution of a typical dilemma – does one go with the crowd even when the crowd is doing something wrong? – is sure to strike a chord. Anderson’s adventure story goes beyond the mundane by confronting head on basic moral issues faced by children.

Ram Subramanian/for curled up with a good kid's book
Big Rig Rustlers By Max Elliot Anderson
Reviewed by Kelli Glesige for Reader Views

It is spring break for twelve year old Todd Brannon and his ten year old sister, Amanda.
They live in Illinois, where nothing exciting happens, along with their parents and their
English sheep dog, Stony. However, this spring vacation will be different because Todd
and Amanda have been invited to fly, unattended by parents, to Uncle Reid’s 80,000 acre
ranch in Cheyenne, Wyoming to help with Spring Roundup. Excitement builds, for this
vacation should be like none other with real cowboys, calf roping, horseback riding,
chuck wagons, and unfortunately, rattlesnakes. The Double R Ranch is truly the “wild
west” in the eyes of Todd and Amanda.
Even before they arrive at the ranch, Todd and Amanda experience signs of cattle rustling
with broken down fences, trailers driving without lights in the dark, missing cattle, a bull
loose in the middle of the road, and even suspicious characters like Travis, the helping
hand who works on Uncle Reid’s ranch. Travis was a lowlife cattle rustler before being
given a second chance of serving time on the ranch instead of serving five years in
prison, informs Cousin Drew, twelve year old son of Uncle Reid, who quickly becomes a
best buddy to Todd and Amanda.
“Big Rig Rustlers” is fast paced and exciting, making this an ideal story for all tweens,
both boys and girls. After an accident with a rattlesnake leaves Amanda feeling grateful,
the message of taking a punishment for another, such as Jesus did for us, is exemplified
twice in the book. Such an act is not always done consciously either; it just feels like the
right thing to do when Jesus is in your heart. After experiencing some very intense
situations, Todd also makes some significant confessions to Uncle Reid which change his
life when he returns back home after his memorable and captivating vacation!
Important messages and some fun and intriguing knowledge can be gained by reading
“Big Rig Rustlers.” While being reminded that it is the Christian way to give someone a
second chance, Max Elliot Anderson gave me insight into the nature of rattlesnakes and
cattle rustling, what life can be like living in the open space of the west, and how
beautiful nature is. And The Double R Ranch experiments with a new type of freeze
branding, which identifies whose ranch the cattle belong to, rather than burning, which is
comforting news to the animal lover, Amanda.
A particular part of the book that I enjoyed was when Anderson described the immaculate
bunkhouse where the kids stayed. The descriptions of the rooms left me with an
intriguing picture in my mind. One room was decorated as a mine shaft and another was
set up to look like a jail, just to name a few. Just great!
I highly endorse another great book by Max Elliot Anderson! It is a commendable story
with a noble message, written by a knowledgeable author.
Big Rig Rustlers
Author: Max Elliot Anderson
by: Trisha Bleau

The thing that I think I like the most about the books that Max Anderson writes is the fact that though they are fiction they are realistic. They are stories that the reader can relate to, something that is not so farfetched or outlandish that they cannot picture themselves in the role. Rather they are descriptive and exciting. The reader can easily insert himself in to the story. Big Rig Rustlers was a book done in this same manner. Though most of us will never be out on a round up like this they can easily understand the story and can learn what it is like as well as enjoy the easy to read nature of it. I also love the fact that each book includes a well done lesson. Big Rig Rustlers ends with a lesson in telling the truth and it is very well presented, done in such a way that the reader does not even realize they are being taught something. Anderson has a well written story here that is a great read. Readers will find this book to be highly interesting and a great way to pass the time. They won't realize how much time they spend in reading because it is such an interesting story. I highly recommend Big Rig Rustlers and all of the other stories written by Max Elliot Anderson and Tweener Press. You won't be disappointed.
Reviewer Carolyn R. Scheidies

Todd and Amanda visit their uncle’s Wyoming ranch at round-up time. Ranch life is all new to them, but they’re learning to appreciate the wide-open spaces, getting to know their cousin and riding horses. They aren’t quite so excited about snakes, especially the human ones rustling cattle.

Is Travis involved in the crime? He seems nice enough, but some of his actions seem very suspicious.

As they move in to capture the thieves, Todd begins to understand God is real, that people can change and that things aren’t always what they seem.
This is the sort of book you can give Tweens (Not quite teens) and know they’ll find adventure without gore and a Christian message without preaching.

Another Review at MyShelf.Com
Reviewer: Beverly J. Rowe
Reviewer Notes:

Anytime Todd and Amanda's father calls for a family meeting, it is big news. At today's family meeting, the kids learn they are going to Wyoming to Uncle Reid's ranch during spring break to participate in the spring cattle roundup. They are excited by the prospect, but a bit nervous about the whole thing. They fly to Cheyenne, and Uncle Reid is there to meet them with the truck. On the way to the ranch, they nearly run into a bull on the road. Uncle Reid takes that for a clear sign that rustlers have been at work in the area and have cut the fence. The bunkhouse where the kids stay is an experience in itself. Each room is decorated in a different, elaborate, western theme. The kids have riding lessons so they can accompany their cousin Drew along with Uncle Reid and the cowboys on the roundup. Travis, one of the Cowboys who has a past felony record certainly acts suspicious, and the kids vow to really watch him. Anderson really turns up the heat as the kids explore an old abandoned ranch house, and discover that Travis has been hiding out there. The characters are kids that young readers can really relate to and live the adventure as if they were the characters. Max Elliot Anderson's books are designed to encourage your tween-agers to read for pleasure, even if they have had no interest in reading. The book has Christian concepts without being preachy, and subtle moral lessons. The Big Rig Rustlers is an exciting, fast paced story that would make a great gift that you can share and discuss with the kids.
This is number five in the Reluctant Reader Series, but each book is a story that stands alone, with different characters in each volume. Try one out...your kids will beg for the rest of the books.


Author: Max Elliot Anderson
Reviewed by: Peggy Phifer
Genre: Youth 8-13/Fiction

Twelve-year-old Todd Brannon and his ten-year-old sister, Amanda, are excited beyond words when they are invited to spend their spring break with their aunt, uncle and cousin Drew at Dad’s brother’s ranch in Wyoming. They get to travel all by themselves on a plane from their Midwest home to Cheyenne.

Met at the Cheyenne airport by Uncle Reid and Aunt Debbie, the two tired kids are piled into the ranch pickup and start the long drive to Uncle Reid’s ranch. Well after dark, on the way, they almost run into a big bull smack in the middle of the road. How did he get there? A fence down? Not too much later they nearly smash into the rear-end of a truck and trailer running without any lights. Uncle Reid calls the home base and tells Travis, the hand on the other end, to call the sheriff and report both the loose bull and the trailer without any lights. Todd hears his uncle say something about cattle rustlers. Rustlers? Wow.

Finally arrived at the ranch, Cousin Drew shows Todd and Amanda to their rooms in the bunkhouse – not at all like they had imagined from watching western shows on television. They each have their own special room. This was really cool.

As the kids settle in to ranch life, they learn to ride a horse and all about how a ranch this size is run and help as preparations are made for spring roundup. Cousin Drew talks to Todd about the cattle rustlers and his suspicions of one of the ranch hands. In typical kid fashion, they decide to secretly check things out when they go out on the roundup.

Todd and Amanda are exposed to the process of rounding up the calves and all about branding them. They also learn, the hard way, about rattlesnakes, and, in the end, discover modern-day cattle rustlers.

BIG RIG RUSTLERS is another great adventure from Max Elliot Anderson. Max tells a great story that is sure to be a winner with your tweener, whether boy or girl. Hey, even I enjoy Max’s books, and I haven’t been a tweener for - well - a long time. Find Max’s books at – they’ll make great gifts.

Peggy Phifer © 2004


Todd Brannon, can’t wait for spring break. He and his ten-year sister, Amanda, are heading up to their Uncle Reid’s ranch in Wyoming. However, after nearly grinding a stray bull into a highway hamburger, Todd and his uncle suspect that cowboys and cattle aren’t the only things on the ranch. It looks like the kids are going to have a more old western experience than they bargained for.

When Todd and Amanda get to the ranch, they forget all about their worries. That is until their cousin takes them exploring, and reveals that one of ranch hands is a former rustler. Drew thinks his father has made a mistake in giving Travis a chance to turn his life around, and asks his cousins to help him keep an eye on the cowboy.

Later, while exploring an old ranch house, the kids discover Travis is hiding out there. Has their Uncle Reid’s big heart put the entire ranch in jeopardy? Will the rustlers be able to make off with several thousand heads of valuable cattle? There’s only one way to find out. Read Big Rig Rustlers.

This is one of the coolest stories I’ve ever read. I wish there was a way I could jump into the book and become one of the characters. The rooms in the bunkhouse are fantastic! Where can I get one, Mr. Anderson?

This is the perfect book to snuggle up with on a rainy day. Pick up a copy of Big Rig Rustlers to give to any adventure-loving kid in your life. Five stars! by Jason McDonald Dancing Word Reviewer
"High Tech Cattle Rustling!"
Todd and Amanda Brannon are about to have the adventure of a child's life. They are going to visit their Aunt and Uncle, who happen to own a ranch in Cheyenne, Wyoming and want the siblings to experience a spring roundup.
But things are not going so smoothly, despite the constant thrills the visitors experience. Someone is rustling the cattle from the ranch, and their cousin Drew suspects it is Travis, a worker on the ranch and a known former rustler. So the cousins' guard is definitely up as they head out to spring roundup.
There are plenty of hair-raising moments in the novel, even without the central mystery. They get to try flying a small airplane and actually get to see rattlesnakes frightening enough to curdle even the toughest of hearts!
Now Todd had recently been involved with some troublesome kids back home and he's reminded of these boys rather frequently as he sees what a life of crime actually does to those involved, those who do the crime and those who are the victims of a crime.
This again shows Max Elliot Anderson's ability to spin a great story that will hold the attention of any young adult, as well as adult, and provide enough adventure to keep the reader going to the very last page.
Superb, M. Anderson!
Reviewed by Viviane Crystal Courtesy Crystal Reviews / The Best Reviews


To be republished by Comfort Publishing
Secret of Abbott’s Cave
by Max Elliot Anderson
ages 9-12 128 pages

There is probably not a single pre-teen boy who is not fascinated with the police and the work they do. So, in that sense Randy Wilcox and his friends are not different from many other eleven- and twelve-year-olds. What sets them apart, though, is that they not only have acted on their interest by forming the Hilton Park Road Detective Club but had saved their money to buy an expensive police scanner.

The boys live in a town in Virginia, with a number of caves in close proximity. Max Elliot Anderson’s action packed thrill-a-minute page turner unfolds when the boys hear about a bank robbery on their scanner. The robbers have escaped with all the money and the police are unable to find them. It so happens that the young detectives had earlier planned a sojourn at one of the boys’ uncle’s place near Abbotts Cave. So, not surprisingly, Randy Wilcox and his friends encounter the thieves in the cave. What is surprising, and more importantly, convincing, though, is the nifty way in which the boys outmaneuver the thieves and return the money to safety. The scenes at the cave are told in fine detail, with the emphasis being on keeping the action moving.
Anderson’s adventure series for young readers, this book is one of several, resonates exceedingly well with its intended audience primarily because the author keeps the action moving. Sparse, albeit snappy dialog, is frequently punctuated by action scenes that are well laid out. However, there is also an interesting subtext in Anderson’s books. The subtext has to do with everyday dilemmas faced by pre-teens. Anderson adroitly weaves these dilemmas with the narrative and the ending is usually a believable resolution of the dilemma. For Randy and his friends, the dilemma has to do with keeping the reward money or giving it to the intrepid police officers and fire fighters who keep the town safe. After much soul searching, the boys do the right thing in this eminently readable adventure tale.

Ram Subramanian/for curled up with a good kid's book
The latest title in Max Elliot Anderson's "Tweener Press Adventure Series", Secret Of Abbot's Cave finds Randy and his friends have formed a detective club and pooled their resources to buy a police radio scanner. After learning of a bank robbery, they went on a camping trip and while exploring a cave, discover hidden loot from the robbery. Now they must figure out what the right thing to do is -- and deal with powerful temptations to the contrary. Secret Of Abbot's Cave is not only a rollicking good story, it has embedded within it some very good personal values for young readers to absorb.
Midwest Book Review

Had me sitting on the edge of my seat
Reader Views "" - See all my reviewsReviewed by Alex Gonzalez (age 14) for Reader Views

In "Secret of Abbott's Cave," Randy Wilcox (the main character) and his friends (Stewart Adkins, Jeff Stevens, and Hal Conti) form a club called the Hilton Park Road Detective Club. They decide to get a police scanner radio so that when crime happens, they can be at the crime scene. When they go to Sunday school one day, they get a new teacher and have a lesson that will affect their future adventures. The teacher talks about how Jesus made a blind man see, and they did an activity where the Sunday school class was in total darkness and some of them had to go through a blind "obstacle course". Randy and his friends like cave exploring although they haven't explored any caves yet. They take a class on safety and what to bring in caves. Later on, Randy and his friends go to explore a cave on Jeff Steven's uncle's property. When they get picked up they hear the police scanner talking about a bank robbery and two suspects that were on the run. When the friends reach their destination, the set up camp near the cave and in the morning, they see the two bank robbers go towards the direction of the cave. In the morning the friends go in the cave and find the money and later the robbers come and follow the kids deep in the seemingly endless cave. Through great leadership and trust, Randy and his friends make it out the cave safely and end up getting the robbers arrested. Randy and his friends come out as town heroes. The author really made this book easy on the eyes because it didn't have many "big" words. Also, the author wrote in such a way that I could picture exactly what was going on, such as when Stewart was looking down into a hole in the cave and dropped his helmet. I could hear the flashlight coming apart from the helmet and breaking into the wall. I like this book because it was easy to read, yet it had me sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen to the kids in the next sentence! This book is great if you want a quick read and like adventure books. Also, this book is intended for the younger ages, but in my opinion anyone of any age could enjoy this delightful book. And it comes with an extra feature at the end, a list of Hampton, Virginia's 10-codes and fire signals! I recommend that anyone who is at least a little interested should buy this book.

by: Jason McDonald
Dancing Word Reviewer

Title: Secret of Abbott’s Cave
Author: Max Elliot Anderson
Genre: Inspirational/Juvenile Fiction

New Market, Virginia seems like just another small town in the middle of nowhere, but it’s also the headquarters for a secret team of private eyes. They are Randy Wilcox, Stewart Adkins, Jeff Stevens, and Hal Conti. Together, they form the Hilton Park Road Detectives Club! Okay, so they’re not world famous detectives. But they hope to be someday. And Secret of Abbott’s Cave tells the story of their greatest adventure, and the greatest mess a bunch of tweeners could get themselves into. And it all starts with a school assignment and a police scanner.

You see, New Market had a lot of caves, and I mean A LOT. One of those caves was on Jeff’s uncle’s farm, and the boys were planning to explore it. But as Randy knew, they would have to learn more about caves first. So when the boys had to write a report regarding the caves in the area, the boys figured everything would fit together perfectly. They’ll do their reports, learn what they need to know in the process, and then go explore the cave.

They had also saved up to buy a police scanner, which is a radio that will pickup transmissions from the local police and fire department’s radios. You can’t talk into it, just listen. Then you can know when something BIG is happening, like a robbery or fire. When the scanner arrived, and the boys hooked it up, the first thing they heard about was a bank robbery. They had no idea they were about to end up in the middle of the search for the crooks

When they finally were able to explore the cave on the farm, they found out that the bank robbers were hiding out in that same cave! To make matters worse, Randy discovered his friends didn’t tell their parents where they were going, like they were supposed to,. And Jeff hadn’t gotten permission from his Uncle to explore the cave, like he said he did. Now they’re lost in the cave, and the bank robbers are hot on their trail. Will they make New Market history, or will they be history? Find out in Max Elliot Anderson’s latest tweener adventure, Secret of Abbott’s Cave!

This book kept me glued until the last letter. I really liked the fact that they had a police scanner, just like I hope to someday. I also enjoyed all the cool facts about caves, and the eternal lesson of honesty and teamwork. This book makes a perfect gift for any tweener! Five stars!

Secret of Abbott’s Cave By Max Elliot AndersonBaker Reviewed by Alex Gonzalez (age 14) for Reader Views

In “Secret of Abbott’s Cave,” Randy Wilcox (the main character) and his friends (StewartAdkins, Jeff Stevens, and Hal Conti) form a club called the Hilton Park Road DetectiveClub. They decide to get a police scanner radio so that when crime happens, they can beat the crime scene. When they go to Sunday school one day, they get a new teacher and have a lesson that will affect their future adventures. The teacher talks about how Jesusmade a blind man see, and they did an activity where the Sunday school class was in totaldarkness and some of them had to go through a blind “obstacle course”.Randy and his friends like cave exploring although they haven’t explored any caves yet.They take a class on safety and what to bring in caves. Later on, Randy and his friends goto explore a cave on Jeff Steven’s uncle’s property. When they get picked up they hearthe police scanner talking about a bank robbery and two suspects that were on the run.When the friends reach their destination, they set up camp near the cave and in the night, they see the two bank robbers go towards the direction of the cave. In the morning the friends go in the cave and find the money and later the robbers come andfollow the kids deep in the seemingly endless cave. Through great leadership and trust,Randy and his friends make it out the cave safely and end up getting the robbers arrested.Randy and his friends come out as town heroes.The author really made this book easy on the eyes because it didn’t have many “big”words. Also, the author wrote in such a way that I could picture exactly what was goingon, such as when Stewart was looking down into a hole in the cave and dropped his helmet. I could hear the flashlight coming apart from the helmet and breaking into thewall.I like this book because it was easy to read, yet it had me sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen to the kids in the next sentence! This book is greatif you want a quick read and like adventure books. Also, this book is intended for theyounger ages, but in my opinion anyone of any age could enjoy this delightful book. Andit comes with an extra feature at the end, a list of Hampton, Virginia’s 10-codes and firesignals! I recommend that anyone who is at least a little interested should buy this book.
What young boy doesn't at one point dream of being a fireman or a policeman? These days it might not just be boys! So it's no surprise that Max Elliot Anderson, in this latest edition of the Tweener Press Adventure Series, has Randy Wilcox and his friends form a detective club and proceed to attempt solving their first crime mystery.

First, they actually manage to save the money they need to buy a police scanner so they can hear about actual crimes being carried out in the present or recent past. Hopefully other young readers will lose interest in pursuing what they hear on such a scanner as they continue to read about the dangers Randy and his friends faced further on in the story.

Bank robbers think that hiding in a cave until the heat is off will be the perfect escape method, but they haven't figured in being outwitted by these young boys. As in a previous edition of this series, the boys are faced with a moral decision. Should they keep the wealth they find or honestly turn it into the appropriate authorities? The way in which they meet this central moment's problem is described so realistically by Anderson, who truly understands how his characters think and feel, as well as act. There's a higher power behind all of the intrigue and choices characters make in all of Anderson 's young adult novels, which only adds to the singularly fascinating and well-crafted quality. That is no different in this latest novel in the Tweener series.

Most significant in this story is the fact that Randy learns what a true hero is and how that connects with present events as well as major historical events in the not so distant past!!! As young readers become distant from their parents and siblings' memories of 911, this is an additional thread of meaning the author has sensitively included!

Kudos on a finely written tale – again

Reviewed by Viviane Crystal Courtesy Crystal Reviews / The Best Reviews
by: Laura V. Hilton
Dancing Word Reviewer

Title: Secret of Abbott’s Cave
Author: Max Elliot Anderson
Genre: Inspirational/Juvenile/Fiction

Eleven-year-old Randy Wilcox and his friends, Stewart, Jeff, and Hal, think that life in New Market, Virginia, is boring. They are hoping that their little town is more exciting than they think it is, so they buy a police scanner. Besides, they want to own their own detective agency someday, so knowing police codes could come in handy.

A class on caves fills a Saturday, and when a teacher assigns a report about different aspects of cave life and safety, the boys decide to camp overnight and explore a cave on Jeff’s uncle’s property. It is private, so the boys should be completely safe. Finally, after much discussion, Randy’s parents agree he can go.

While the boys are getting ready for the camping trip, news come across the scanner of a bank robbery. This sounds exciting! The boys decide to continue with their plans for the weekend and continue packing—after all, the bank robbers will be long gone and their trip will be completely uneventful—or will it?

Secret of Abbott’s Cave is an exciting read guaranteed to keep the interest of even the most reluctant reader. It is full of information about caves—so readers who are interested in spelunking will enjoy it too. The boys act like any other eleven-year-old boys – full of life and excitement, ready to take the world on.

I didn’t find anything I disliked about Secret of Abbott’s Cave. It held my interest from page one—and my twelve-year-old son is anxious to get his hand on the book and read it for himself. Police codes are included at the back of the book. Pick up Secret of Abbott’s Cave for your favorite eight- to thirteen-year-old today.
As the narrative opens Randy Wilcox awoke to the sound of heavy trucks rumbling up his street. That was not too uncommon an occurrence in his hometown of New Market, Virginia. Randy had forgotten to set out the garbage. Randy and his buddies; Stewart Adkins, Jeff Stevens and Hal Conti had formed the Hilton Park Road Detective Club with the intent to help solve crimes. Randy and his friends are anxiously awaiting the delivery of the police scanner the fellows pooled their money to buy from an Internet site. When the boys’ new Sunday School teacher introduces himself in an unexpected manner the boys are set to thinking about people in a new way. The members of the Detective Club wait for the scanner to lead them to crimes to solve, take a class on cave safety, check the Internet to learn about the caves dotting the state, learn that a bank has been robbed in the area and decide to go camping near Abbott’s Cave on land belonging to one of the boys’ uncles. When they discover the thieves and the bank robbery money the boys know they are in for quite an adventure. Writer Anderson has fashioned an easily read, action packed, high adventure novel sure to please middle grade readers. Anderson appears to know his audience well, boys in this age group often shy away from books in favor of action and activity. Secret of Abbott’s Cave is a book I will take to my classroom, 4th grade, with the expectation that the setting and plot will draw reluctant readers into the storyline. Heroism, life lessons, values and expectations for behavior are presented in a non-preachy manner. Few boys in the 10 -12 age group are not fascinated with police officers and crime solving, few do not see themselves as larger than life. Writer Anderson’s thrill packed page turner is filled with intensity, grit and determination as the robbers chase the boys through the cavern, find themselves outmaneuvered by the lads and ultimately face justice. Anderson keeps the action moving. Quick-paced dialog, interspersed with adroitly wrought action scenes produce a certain winner for the target audience. Anderson’s command of language draws the reader into the work and carries interest from the opening paragraphs as Randy awakens at home in his own bed right down to the last lines as Randy discusses what true heroism is and how he can help honor the heroes, emergency workers, who work to keep us all safe each day. Kids will enjoy having the list of 10-Codes and Fire Signals included on the last pages of the book. Secret of Abbott’s Cave is an excellent choice for the classroom, personal reading list and the school and home library. Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.
I was a sent a soft cover edition for review.
Reviewed by: molly martin Author's Den




Reviewed by Kim Peterson for Reader Views

When Brian Fischer was younger, he rescued a white wolf pup that he calls Snowball. Of
course, when he tells people about the experience, they figure he’s exaggerating. Even his
parents don’t place a lot of stock in Brian’s story.
Brian and his friend Tommy live near Bozeman, Montana. Brian loves his home near the
gateway of Yellowstone National Park. His father works in the Gallatin National Forest.
And Brian wanders through the wild daily, often visiting an old Native American named
Windwalker. Learning from his dad, Windwalker, and his own experience, the young
teen knows a lot about the area and enjoys nature.
Young readers will enjoy Brian and Tommy’s adventures as they accompany Brian’s dad
to put radio collars on elk. While Brian’s dad and his colleagues work to stop human theft
of wolves from the forest, the boys encounter a mountain lion, which pursues a terrified
Brian. When Brian claims that Snowball returns and saves his life, only Windwalker
seems to believe him.
Brian determines to prove that he’s telling the truth. However, his search for Snowball
leads him and Tommy into more danger. This time the boys will have to save Snowball
from ruthless humans who don’t like wolves—not even white ones.
Anderson writes a believable adventure for boys in a great setting. Few good books exist
intended for 8- to 12-year-old boys. “Legend of the White Wolf” offers fast-paced
adventure, clean content, delightful humor, and likeable characters. Trust and truth
prevail in this well-told story.
Two best friends, Brian Fisher and Tommy Wilson, have many great times together hiking in the mountains and paying visits to their Indian friend, Windwalker.

Tommy never tires of hearing the story of the time Brian pried open an animal trap of a captured wolf pup with an angry growling mother nearby. After freeing the wolf pup, mother and pup and boy walk away to live another day. Brian is then resolved to make it his mission to find the white wolf again.
Visits with Windwalker brought Brian and Tommy sage advice sometimes with a spiritual meaning and Indian folklore. Windwalker paints and is working on a special painting and knows a lot about wolves that he shares with Brian and Tommy.

Trouble is brewing in Gallatin National Forest from wolf poachers. Brian’s dad is a game warden who is in charge of finding the culprits of the missing wolves.

Readers will enjoy the adventures of Brian and Tommy on their hiking trail visits. Will Brian find Snowball, the white wolf again? Will the wolf poachers be caught? Will Brian take Tommy up on his invitation for visiting his church? Even though Legend of the White Wolf is intended for readers 8 to 12 years old, and primarily for boys, it can be enjoyed by all readers. Readers will be rewarded for time well spent in this delightful, very believable story.

Reviewed by Cheryl McCann
Legend of the White Wolf
Max Elliot Anderson
Take two eleven-year-old boys, a mysterious white wolf, a dangerous band of illegal hunters, and all the excitement of the rugged outdoors, put it all together in a book written by Max Elliot Anderson and you have an adventure story even the most “reluctant” of readers will pick up and enjoy.
Brian Fisher was not much different from other young boys and, so, it was not much of a surprise that he resented the fact that no one believed his fantastic tale about a white wolf. It was also no surprise that he decided to prove the story true, even if it meant putting his own life in danger.
It all began when Brian discovered a white wolf pup caught in a trap and set it free. Since then, Brian was convinced that he and the wolf were brothers. Stung by the disbelief of his family and friends, Brian sets out to confirm the story and ends up getting a lot more than he bargained for. It is bad enough that he is caught out in a snowstorm and attacked by a mountain lion, but when a group of lawless hunters begins killing off the wolf population, the situation reaches a critical point.
Max Elliot Anderson weaves this story of adventure and trust with deft fingers, bringing the story to life in a fulfilling and meaningful way. “Legend of the White Wolf” should be included on every young boy’s bookshelf. Craig Hart
“Brian Fischer had a life that most boys can only dream about….” Thus starts this heart-warming adventure story of faith and friendship sure to delight young readers and adults alike.

Eleven-year-old Brian lives in a small town nestled in the northern gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Surrounded by the peaceful beauty and mystery of nature, he delights in hiking with his best friend Tommy and listen to alluring stories told by Windwalker, a wise and kind old Indian who lives in a remote cabin in the forest.

Though he lives a normal, happy life, Brian has been profoundly “marked” by something he experienced when he was a small boy: while exploring the woods, he once saved a white wolf pup from a metal trap. The mother wolf had witnessed the affair without harming Brian.

Since that day Brian believes the white wolf and he are “brothers,” and he dreams of a second encounter. There’s only one problem. No one believes him, not even his father. To make Brian’s story more impossible, Windwalker assures him that the white wolf has supernatural powers.

But something evil has come to disrupt the serenity of the forest—a band of hunters whose sole interest is to destroy wolves. Will Brian be able to stop them before they harm his beloved white wolf? But how do this when not even his family believe him in the first place? Endangering his own life, Brian sets on a quest to prove the existence of “his” wolf.

Can you believe in what you can’t see? The novel plays with concepts of belief and faith without appearing obvious or “preachy” while combining elements of suspense that will make the reader’s heart race. The language is simple and graceful, giving a sense of innocence and beauty to parallel the setting and age of the characters. Contrasting with this “goodness” are the wolf hunters, bringing the reader face to face with cruelty and callousness at its worst.

The author also offers insights into the nature of this mysterious, magnificent animal which has suffered such a bad reputation in the past. Young readers of adventure stories will relish this. Adults who love and admire wolves will be charmed.

Mayra Calvani/ for curled up with a good kid's book
Brian Fisher finds a white wolf trapped and proceeds to free it. That's when he learns of the Legend of the White Wolf from a friend, Windwalker. In the midst of learning this, he and his friends go hiking into dangerous territory.

For it seems that the weather, animals, and some potential killer hunters are out to threaten Brian's journey at the same time that he is learning about the western legend of the white wolf.

As usual with Max Anderson' book, there are strongly Christian overtones of fairness, integrity, and honesty, as well as adventure, filling the overall sense of the story. Characters, however, are clearly portrayed and seem very “real.”

Anderson knows how to spin a great story, and this reviewer again can envisage hundreds of young readers enjoying this tale as well as the other stories this author crafts so well!

Reviewed by Viviane Crystal Courtesy Crystal Reviews / The Best Reviews

Reviewer Carolyn R. Scheidies

No one believed Brian that he’d rescued a white wolf when both were very young, not even his warden father who worked in the Gallatin National Forest near Bozeman, Montana. One friend does believe—an old Indian living in the forest. As Brain grows so does his friendship with the wise Native American who loves his people, the land and God and teaches Brian how to respect all three. Even he can’t stop the hunters illegally capturing and killing area wolves.

Only, Brian’s white wolf is not a figment of his imagination and when the wolf saves his life, he tries to convince his family it’s all true. But when the wolf needs his help, will Brian be able to return the favor?
Legend of the White Wolf is many things. First, it is truly written for boys between 8 to 12 years old. From the beginning, it snatches their interest in a "wish that would happen to me" way that doesn't seem impossible. The facts concerning wolves are absolutely true, asI can testify as a tundra wolf hybrid owner. The loyalty of these magnificent creatures is clearly spelled out in fun and adventure. This book is a wonderful mixture of Indian lore, truth, God's love and redemption, and adventure. No one can walk away from LEGEND OF THE WHITE WOLF without being satisfied in your heart, soul and mind. Itwill turn a reluctant reader into an eager one, no matter what age you are...Melody DeLeonMinister & Writer




Reviewed by The Old Schoolhouse - May 2011

Michael Ellis is in trouble-- again. He's tired of getting in trouble, he's tired of being sent to his room, and he's tired of rules altogether! He decides to teach his parents a lesson by running away. He and his best friend--a dog named, Barney--decide to camp out all night in a boxcar. Though they don't mean to be gone too long, things take a scary turn when the boxcar suddenly begins to move. Michael and Barney are trapped on a circus train traveling all the way from Missouri to Georgia, but fortunately Big Bob the clown takes them in, providing safety, food, and even friendship. In the midst of action-packed adventure that involves earning a spot in the show, rescuing Barney from bad guys, and eventually saving the circus from closing down for good, Michael learns a very important lesson.

Specifically written for tween boys, Barney and the Runaway provides reluctant readers with an easy read that is realistic yet adventurous enough to keep interest. Readers won't be bogged down by hard-to-pronounce words and literary jargon--no delving deep in search of symbols, metaphors, and the like. The book is also rather short--only 130 pages. Long books can seem daunting to tweens who don't love to read. It's nice for my children to get a break every now and then from classical literature so that they can read for the sake of simply enjoying a good story.

I assigned Barney and the Runaway to my third grade son, and upon finishing, he shrugged his shoulders and said it was good. Unless it's a Diary of the Wimpy Kid book, he typically doesn't act overly thrilled when it comes to reading. One thing I do know is that he never once became frustrated while reading the book, and he completed his book report form without a hitch!

Max Elliot Anderson incorporates Christian values in his books for tweens, which is comforting to me as a parent. A few topics of discussion you might want to consider for Barney and the Runaway are: the importance of family, the reasons for rules, and the meaning of true love. While there won't be a need for a vocabulary list for this book, you might want to point out the misspelled word on page 10 before giving the book to your child--or better yet, see if he can find it! (The word used, complement, should actually be compliment.) This minor error in no way detracts from the story.

Overall, I was pleased with Barney and the Runaway and would recommend it as a great summer read or, as I mentioned above, as a break from your child's regular literature curriculum. Purchase it for just $10.99 from .

Reviewed by

Max Elliot Anderson’s book, Barney and the Runaway, tells of the adventure of a boy and his dog. A work of fiction put in a modern day setting; it is masterfully crafted to capture the imaginations of boys between the ages of about 8 to 12 years old.

The hero, Michael Ellis, feels unappreciated by his parents because they, wisely and lovingly, discipline him. Along with his loyal and very clever dog, Barney, he runs away and unintentionally ends up very far away. He winds up in a circus where a wise and kind clown takes him under his wing. Aside from getting to experience the exciting life of a circus performer, Michael also learns the wisdom that is behind his parents’ actions. He comes into contact with greedy men and learns that his thoughtless decision to run away could have some devastating consequences.

Mr. Anderson absorbs his reader in the delicious prospect of living the life of a circus performer while also allowing him to learn the importance of making wise, unselfish decisions. Many girls will enjoy the plot, too, however it particularly appeals to boys who have a hunger to go on adventures and to put their bravery to the test. The plot moves along quickly enough to hold the attention of a reluctant reader yet long enough to give the child a sense of accomplishment at having read a “real” book.

I highly recommend this book for boys. Not only is the story an entirely new adventure, but it also reinforces several life lessons that parents strive to teach, such as respect for authority, facing the consequences of one’s actions, and honesty. Barney and the Runaway is truly a gift both for young boys and for their parents!

Order Barney and the Runaway and support with your purchase.

Copyright 2011 Elyse Wilson

Reviewed by: Sarah Bailey

Barney and the Runaway by Max Elliot Anderson is a book that will grip the children with the story and make them want to keep reading. We are introduced to Michael Ellis and his dog Barney, and his point of view, which is very different from how his parents perceive what is going on. Michael decides his parents don’t love him and decides to scare them by spending the night in a train car. However, he gets the scare of his life when the train begins moving.

Meeting up with some unlikely characters along the way, Mike learns what family and love really are and that they can’t be taken for granted. With 130 pages and 14 chapters, this book reads relatively quickly and is enjoyable from beginning to end. Whether read aloud as a family or read quietly to oneself, this book provides plenty of mental pictures for the imagination.

The book is mainly written for the older boy. However, both boys and girls of all ages could easily read and enjoy this story and understand the morals that underlie it. Max Elliot Anderson has written a wonderful book about Faith, family, and the tie that binds that all ages will enjoy.

Sarah Bailey

I am a homeschooling mom in our second year. I am eclectic in our approach and use what works for each child. My husband and I have been married 8 year and we have 3 blessings from the Lord..

Copyright © Eclectic Homeschool Association


HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW - Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker -
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)

Barney and the Runaway - March 2011

Did you ever want to run away and join the circus? Did you ever actually try it? Michael Ellis lives in Independence, MO, is waiting for his twelfth birthday, and has recently told his dad and mom that he wants to be called Mike from now on. But he has problems in school with not doing his work, and his parents always seem to be correcting him and telling him what to do, so he decides to teach them all a lesson by pretending to run away with his dog Barney. The two sneak out one night, intending to stay only long enough to scare his parents and make them appreciate him more, but the plan goes awry.

Mike and Barney climb into a railroad boxcar full of hay to spend the night, but they fall asleep and end up in Georgia with a circus. Fortunately, they are discovered by Big Bob the Clown and are taken to safety in his wagon. Big Bob tries to encourage the boy to get in touch with his parents, but Mike refuses. Barney is a smart dog, and his tricks earn him and Mike a part in the clown show at the circus. Mike begins to think that living and performing with the circus might be the answer to his problems. Meanwhile, someone is trying to sabotage the circus, and their plans might hurt Mike and Barney. Is there anything that they can do to thwart the plot? And will Mike learn anything from the story of Big Bob’s own unfortunate past that will help him understand that his parents truly love him?

Author Max Elliot Anderson grew up as a struggling, reluctant reader and knows exactly what will grab the attention of “tween” boys. I did this book as a read aloud for our fourteen-year-old son who said that it is great. There is much to commend it. Of course, it is filled with action, mystery, and excitement that will keep both boys and girls turning the pages to see what happens next. But there are also important lessons that children will be able to discern along with Mike, such as the importance of family and the fact that we often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone. One thing which I especially like is Big Bob's belief that God brought Mike to him so that he could explain what had happened to him as a young boy and help the boy understand his own situation better. Barney and the Runaway is a marvelous adventure book for young people that gets kudos from me.

Book: Barney and the Runaway

Author: Max Elliot Anderson

Cover Illustrator: Colin Kernes

Publisher: Comfort Publishing, March 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0-9845598-4-8

For more information e-mail

This is the story of Michael Ellis' protest against his parents for always telling him what to do and punishing him all the time. His parents and teachers are threatening summer school if he doesn't shape up. Mike feels like everyone is against him, so he will just teach them a lesson and run away.

Mike's scruffy little mutt, Barney, tags along with him as they sneak out at night. They climb into a railroad boxcar that is parked on the track and fall asleep. When Mike wakes up to jerking and clanging, he realizes the train is moving, and the door is locked. No one can hear him yelling and banging to get out. Oh boy, now what? Mike didn't really mean to run away but when the train finally stops, he is many miles from home. How did he end up in Georgia with a circus? Fortunately, Big Bob, the Clown, takes Mike and Barney under his wing and gives them a spot to sleep in his wagon.

Big Bob is sure that God brought Mike to him so he could relate what happened to him as a young boy. An old clown named Arnold rescued him, gave him a place to live, and taught him how to be a clown. Bob had no parents, but Mike has loving Christian parents to guide him.

Mike thinks being in a circus will be great fun even though Bob explains to him that a clown sometimes paints on a happy face to cover a broken heart. The show must go on, and a clown's job is to make the customers laugh so Mike and Barney both get into the act.

Someone has been trying to cause the circus to close down, and Mike and Barney overhear robbers planning to rob the circus and burn it to the ground. He must help save his new friends and the wonderful circus that he has come to love.

Max Elliot Anderson is a master at giving us exceptional characters and fast moving, exciting adventures that are inspirational and still encourage reluctant readers to enjoy books that teach them the importance of doing what is right. The very special relationships of a boy and his dog, and then an old clown and a young boy, make this a heartwarming story along with conversation starter ideas about the love of parents you will want to share with your family.

Children's Fiction: Inspirational/Religious - Ages 9-12

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Beverly J. Rowe

Michael W. Ellis has a new ideal to live by, the Declaration of Independence. He's tired of doing what everyone else wants, and so he decides to run away. It seems like an adventure at first when he and his dog, Barney, wind up on a railroad car and then with a traveling circus. Big Bob takes to Mike and wants to make Barney part of the circus, since he has a very special talent that could draw crowds and make money.

The plot thickens, however, when some evil characters have other plans for Barney. When the threat grows, Mike thinks of all the times "if that hadn't happened" that have added up to one big mess. Big Bob, however, comes to the rescue but also tells Mike a story that changes everything. The bottom line is that plans go crazy and one must realize the consequences might not turn out for the best after all is said and done.

Barney and The Runaway is a great adventure story that is unpredictable and fascinating on every page. It's a great addition to the already terrific novels written by this very talented YA fiction author!!!

Posted by Viviane Crystal

Barney and the Runaway

Max Elliot Anderson
Reviewed by Kelli Glesige for Reader Views

Michael Ellis is a young man who lives in the city of Independence in the “Show Me” state, Missouri. Lately however, Mike acts as if he lives in the “Make Me” state. Michael dislikes that his parents are always telling him what to do and punishing him all the time when he disobeys. Even Mrs. Whitlock, Mike’s teacher, thinks he needs to be more disciplined and accountable for his assignments. Summer school is imminent if something doesn’t change.

Mike decides to teach everyone a lesson by running off with his best friend Barney, the scruffiest, little, mixed-breed mutt alive. Barney is believed to be a cross between an alley dog and a junkyard dog, and he often misbehaves, so perhaps this is why the boy and his dog get along so fittingly.

The plan of running away gets a bit more complicated than planned when Mike and Barney hide in a railroad boxcar, fall asleep, and end up in Georgia with a circus in the middle of the night. Luckily for the runaways, Big Bob the Clown takes Mike and Barney to safety in his wagon. Mike decides that living and performing with the circus might be a good idea until Big Bob opens Mike’s eyes to his unfortunate past. Bob tells Mike that a clown paints on a happy face to sometimes cover sadness. A clown may not always be as carefree as he appears, but the show must go on. It is Big Bob’s belief that God brought Mike to him so he could explain what happened to him as a young boy. Big Bob had to depend on an old clown named Arnold to rescue him, but Mike has loving Christian parents to guide him.

“Barney and the Runaway” is a meaningful story about doing what one is told to do. Parents often punish their children, but only because they love and want what is best for them, not because they don’t care. Even though the life of a circus performer with a circus family may appear fun, if given a choice, most would agree that living within the confines of a warm home with loving, caring parents is the preferred choice. As the saying goes, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” After Mike overhears some unsettling news and both he and Barney are involved in a scary and dangerous crime, Mike learns his lesson before it’s too late.

I enjoyed this moving piece by Max Elliot Anderson and can highly recommend it. Although written for the younger reader (age 10-12), everyone should enjoy it. The very special relationships of a boy and his dog, and then an old clown and a young boy, make this a tenderhearted tale.


Book # 1 in the Sam Cooper Adventure Series


Author: Max Elliot Anderson


by Marilyn Rockett
Homeschooling Today Magazine

Boys love adventure, excitement, and challenge, but often they don’t like to read. Max Elliot Anderson, author of Lost Island Smugglers (Port Yonder Press, 2010), understands because he grew up hating to read. Now he writes adventure stories for boys aged eight to twelve (but girls love them too). What mother doesn’t want to find a book with good values wrapped around an adventure story her sons will enjoy?

Fans of Anderson’s seven previous stories will notice that this new Sam Cooper Adventure Series departs from Anderson’s prior writing. His earlier books have had different characters and settings, but Lost Island Smugglers is the first in the new series featuring the same central characters.

A Life-and-Death Adventure

Sam Cooper, the new boy in town again, hates to move. His father’s job as a research biologist takes the family to many interesting places, but it is always hard for Sam to find new friends before it is time to pack up and leave. He wants this move to Florida to be different, but when Sam meets Tony and Tyler at his new church, he doesn’t foresee how different it will be!

Learning to scuba dive with his new friends begins as a fun adventure for Sam but turns into a scary, life-threatening experience because of the boys’ disobedience. A hurricane, a deserted island, and a secret hideout for some frightening characters with high-powered speedboats make the boys wonder whether they will live to see their parents again. They learn a lesson in truth and that it isn’t wise to try to get away with something thinking no one will find out about it.

Some have said that Sam Cooper Adventures are like good family movies, and Anderson brings his award-winning film and video production experience to the written page in stories that will encourage boys to read. Additional titles in the Sam Cooper series, coming soon, include Captain Jack’s Treasure and River Rampage. To learn more about Max Anderson and his writing, visit For interesting and fun information about raising boys and reading, visit Anderson’s blog:

Marilyn Rockett is a graduated homeschool mother of four sons, grandmother to five home-taught boys, and great-grandmother to one boy. She has read to boys for countless hours and survived their adventures.

Originally published in Homeschooling Today® magazine (Jan/Feb 2011). Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Lost Island Smugglers was an extremely enjoyable book. I felt that each character was well-developed and I could feel what they were feeling. I enjoyed the struggle against the storm, how they gradually got weaker as the storm progressed. I really like how Sam took charge and was able to help them survive. The book, in all, was very exciting and it really kept me at the edge of my seat. ~ Brittany C. Age 13


Reviewed by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine March 2011

"Sam wondered what kind of bad thing Tony was thinking about doing. He didn't want to be part of anything he could get into some serious trouble for."

Sam's family is moving--again. This time his dad's job is taking them to Florida. At first he's worried about making new friends, but he ends up meeting two kids right away--Tony and Tyler from church. Tony's dad owns a marina and treats the three boys to scuba diving lessons. Once they've passed their final exam, Tony wants to brave the real ocean without adult supervision. Tyler's in. Will Sam risk everything to join in the fun? What follows is an extraordinary event none of them could have fathomed.

Lost Island Smugglers was the perfect book for my third grader, whose least favorite subject is reading. Max Elliot Anderson writes in everyday, conversational language, providing a simple yet enjoyable adventure story for children between the ages of 8 and 11. Even though there are 255 pages, the print is large. My son liked being able to read without the hassle of defining a long list of vocabulary words, answering comprehension questions, and discussing literary terms--things he says "take the fun out of reading."

My son really enjoyed this novel and even finished early. Because I used this book as part of his homeschool reading lesson, I did give an assignment--a book report. Writing a report was a great way for him to practice summarizing, ordering events, and writing complete sentences. Parents or teachers could also include moral discussions about divorce, lying, friendship, trustworthiness, and obedience.

At the end of the book, there is a picture and a short lesson on the catamaran, the same type of boat Sam, Tony, and Tyler sailed. Children can also read about how to make a shelter in the wilderness, but I think our family will play it safe and go with making the recipe for the delicious Chocolate Dessert!

You can provide your middle-grade reader with an easy-to-read adventure for just $8.95! I think this book is great for boys, especially boys who might not be overly excited when it comes to reading. I am already planning to buy the next book in the Sam Cooper Adventure Series for my son during summer vacation.


Publisher: Port Yonder Press
July 2010
ISBN: 9781935600022
Genre: Inspirational/youth/boys

Sam Cooper’s dad is moving again—this time down to Florida. Sam’s dad, a scientist, has to study the thousand islands to see if being habituated is destroying the ecosystem. Sam isn’t real thrilled about moving until he meets Tony and Tyler. Tony’s dad is really rich and he owns a marina and pays for all three boys to have scuba diving lessons. Plus he takes them out on a submarine.

After Sam gets his scuba diving license, Tony and Tyler want to go scuba diving in the ocean but Sam’s dad says no since no adults will be there. Sam sneaks out and goes with his friends. But then a storm blows up…and their boat breaks apart. Will the boys even survive? And if they do, how will their parents find them?

LOST ISLAND SMUGGLERS is book one in Mr. Anderson’s A Sam Cooper Adventure series. I was introduced to Mr. Anderson’s books back when my boys were reluctant readers and I completely credit him for teaching them that books can be fun. My son Michael still has every book Mr. Anderson ever wrote in his collection.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know eleven year old Sam. He is a fun character, and he wants to obey his parents, but he also longs for the freedom his new friends have.

If you have boys, especially boys that don’t like to read, then you won’t want to miss LOST ISLAND SMUGGLERS. It will be sure to be a favorite for your sons (and daughters). The action in this book is nonstop, drawing the reader in and keeping his attention all through the story. A yummy sounding dessert and directions for building a shelter are included at the end of the book. $12.95. 270 pages.

February 12, 2011

Lost Island Smugglers is the first of the Sam Cooper Adventure series written by Max Elliot Anderson. Sam Cooper is an eleven-year-old who has never lived in one place for more than a year due to his father's work. In his latest home, he makes new friends who invite him to go scuba diving. But while out at sea they are swept away by a storm and are stranded on an island. From there it's a tale of survival.

This story carefully builds to the point where Sam and his friends are stranded. First, Sam meets and forms a bond with Tyler and Tony, and later he is with them as they learn to scuba dive. Sam, Tyler, and Tony seem to get along, but Sam is mistrustful of Tony, whereas Tyler follows Tony like a shadow.

When Tony invites Sam to go scuba diving on his dad's boat without taking along any adults, Sam is split between taking part in an adventure under the ocean and violating the hard earned trust of his parents. Sam asks for permission from his parents and they quickly say no. He then disobeys them and joins Tony and Tyler as they go out, knowing that he'll be in trouble.

Much of the story focuses on the interaction among the three boys. Sam is the new guy in town and he wants to make friends. Tony is the biggest of the bunch and is also the richest and bossiest. Tyler is a tag-a-long to Tony, following everything he does without question. All three are unique and important to the story, although Tyler mostly just whines.

This book is cleverly written and is clearly designed for younger readers. The story of Sam, Tyler, and Tony reminds me of the story of the prodigal son who was lost and returned to his father's home. It might not appeal to everyone, but for 8- to 12-year-old boys this story will be very entertaining. – Jared Hammond,

Lost Island Smugglers, by Max Elliot Anderson, is an engaging story about a new kid in town who encounters unexpected adventure and challenges.

In the book, Sam Cooper has just moved to a new town in Florida when he meets Tony and Tyler. Since Tony's father owns a marina, the boys take scuba lessons there and eventually sneak out to scuba in the ocean by themselves.

Throughout the narrative, Sam struggles to find the balance between doing what he knows is right and fitting in with his new friends who tease him for always asking for permission from his parents before he does something potentially dangerous. The author portrays this struggle in a realistic way without edging into didacticism.

Through a raging storm, being marooned on an island, and encountering a group of dangerous drug dealers, Sam realizes leadership skills he didn't know he had and learns about the consequences of acting against what he knows to be the right thing to do. Because of Sam's personal growth throughout the story, the book is in many ways a coming of age tale.

Lost Island Smugglers is intended for kids 8-13 and especially boys, although any child who enjoy stories about adventure would enjoy it. Personally, I loved the parts where the boys build a shelter, make a fire with a magnifying glass and search for food on the island. In many ways, it reminds me of a modern-day Swiss Family Robinson story.

The print is good-sized, and the story moves quickly enough that I surprised myself by finishing it in only one day. I just kept turning page after page after page...

I'd recommend Lost Island Smugglers to anyone wanting to encourage their reluctant readers, whether boys or girls, to read. Get your copy and dive into the adventure today!

Deborah Gray

Child1st Publications


Lost Island Smugglers by Max Elliot Anderson
Reviewed by Wendy Hilton 12/1/10

This book seems like it would be appropriate for middle to upper elementary school ages. The truth is though, that I love to read children's books even as an adult, so it could be enjoyed by older kids, teens, or adults as well. Sometimes it is difficult to find good books for my son to read, so I'm happy to say that this book would definitely appeal to boys as well as girls. Anyone who likes a story full of adventure and excitement would find it enjoyable.

As a mom, I liked the author’s emphasis on friendship and family. I thought the author did readers a good service by showing that kids with good family lives should be thankful for it rather than embarrassed by it. I also felt that the author included mention of the main character’s faith in God in a way that was real and didn’t seem imposed into the story in an out-of-place fashion.

I admit that as an adult I probably didn’t find the story as exciting or adventurous as a younger person is likely to, but it is still a good book with a real plot and with some thought-provoking ideas. I asked my nephew, a sixth grader, to read it and he enjoyed it very much. When asked if he would be interested in reading more books in this series and/or by this author, he answered that he would definitely like to. He is an avid reader, like myself, and his endorsement, in my mind, is enough to suggest that most readers his age would enjoy this book.

There were some qualities in the supporting characters which I didn’t particularly like, but in thinking this over, I realized that there are less-than-admirable qualities in those we will meet all of our lives. We can’t pretend those things don’t exist, but we can learn from them. As much as we might like to hide out and escape negative influences, this can’t always happen, so I accepted the characters and discussed those qualities with my nephew. I found that he had more feelings on the topic than I anticipated and we both learned something from the conversation.

There are many books that I feel a child should read, many more that I feel a child should never read, and there are books like this one, which I feel are perfectly acceptable entertainment. I enjoyed this book and can definitely recommend it to other families as a fun book!

This book is the first in The Sam Cooper Adventure Series. The author, Max Elliot Anderson, has a website as well as a Books for Boys Blog that you might like to visit for more information. You might find it interesting to know that Mr. Anderson was a reluctant reader as a child, so his books are written from the perspective of someone who knows from experience that boys (and girls too) need appealing books to read so that they can develop a love of reading. My nephew, who read this book as well, and my son are both "readers," but I know that that is not the case for many boys. If you have a reluctant reader in your family, you just might want to give this series a try!


An exciting read that younger readers will relish.

Midwest Book Review - 5 Stars *****

Stranded on a desert island, survival first comes to mind, and dealing with those smugglers isn't too far down the list. "Lost Island Smugglers" is an exciting juvenile novel following Sam Cooper and his friends as a boat trip goes awry and they find themselves on a seemingly deserted island. But the previous occupants aren't friendly, as they aren't fond of their operation being found. "Lost Island Smugglers" is an exciting read that younger readers will relish.


5 out of 5 stars Peyton's Review

By Diane M. Graham "DMGRAHAM" - See all my reviews

This review is from: Lost Island Smugglers (Paperback)
This is the best book I've ever read in my life. My favorite parts are:

#1 The high speed chase when Sam, Tyler and Tony are chased by the men in large black coats.

#2 The deadly storm when the boat rips in two.

#3 When Sam, Tyler and Tony wash up on Lost Island.

#4 When Sam, Tyler and Tony take a ride in the submarine.

The pictures are awesome and give me a good view of the things in Lost Island Smugglers. I will tell all my friends about it.



Reviewed by Jo Ann Hakola

Sam is making friends in the new city his family has moved to, and he even gets to learn how to scuba dive. But when he sneaks off with them on a rental sailboat, he never expected to get caught in a storm...

This is a Sam Cooper Adventure 1. Max Elliot Anderson sent me a copy for a review. I've reviewed Mr. Anderson's work before and I admire it. He was a reluctant reader as a child, and his goal is to write books that boys will enjoy reading. They need action, excitement, some danger and a good text flow. He manages all of that in his books.

There are different family lives for the three boys, and Sam is very happy he has both his parents and they live in the same household and love each other and him. But playing on a boat just is too much temptation for him and he's afraid they'll say no, so he goes without permission.

As soon as he gets on board, he begins to regret going without advising his parents, but it's too late. And it could be even later than he thinks when a big storm hits them and they find themselves in the sea...

Young men will enjoy the descriptions of the adventures of Sam and there is a moral message in the story also. I think this is the best book Mr. Anderson has written so far, and I know he has more planned. Check out your local bookstores for a copy and watch for the next Sam Copper adventure.

Reviewed by Julie - Knitting and Sundries

This is our second Max Elliot Anderson title; the first was Barney and the Runaway (click the title to see the review).

I say "our" because Mr. Anderson writes books for boys, specifically books that like adventure books. and this was a read-together for Bebe Boy James and I.

Sam Cooper is 11 years old. His dad is a research biologist, which means that they move a lot. In the beginning of the book, they see a news article about a drug raid only three blocks from their house, which makes Sam think that maybe their NEW move to Harper's Inlet (a town north of Miami) is going to be a GOOD idea.

On the drive to their new home, Sam overhears a conversation at a rest stop which puzzles him, a snippet about "running boats with shark's teeth and blood". He is put off by the appearance of the man holding the conversation, and "almost" tells his parents about it, but decides not to.

Once they're settled in, Sam meets some new boys in Sunday school: Tyler and Tony. Tony's dad owns the marina, where he rents boats and runs a scuba diving school. When Tony's dad offers free lessons to Tony and two of his friends, Sam persuades his parents to let him attend.

As Sam's friendship with these two develops, he realizes that he has some misgivings about Tony. Tony is rather brash and arrogant, and likes to take chances, which gives Sam the feeling that he can't trust him. This feeling only intensifies when Tony tries to talk the other two into a solo scuba diving trip, which Sam knows his parents would not allow. Despite his misgivings, he allows himself to be talked into it, and he heads off into what will be a dangerous adventure.

The theme of drug running flows through this book, as does the theme of family. Sam's family is very supportive, doing simple things such as taking their meals together (his friends tell him he's lucky). Sam's struggles with some of his decisions, going against his first inclination just to fit in, and we see how peer pressure can easily be succumbed to, and also how doing what you know is right is better than going along.

Parents: This is a wholesome book that boys will relate to and enjoy. The lessons that are included as part of this adventure are fully integrated into the story, unlike many books where we see a "preachy" sort of lesson which just pops up out of nowhere. Bebe Boy James and I discuss chapters as we go along, and some of his remarks were: "I'D want to get rid of all of the drug dealers, too!" and "If you know it's wrong, you shouldn't let someone else talk you into it".

We enjoyed it, and James was so caught up once the boys got in their fix that we ended up reading past our planned reading time just so he could find out what happened.

Additional comments about Lost Island Smugglers

--"We did Lost Island Smugglers as a bed-time read aloud, and everyone thought that it was great. It is certainly an exciting, action-packed adventure story that both boys and girls will enjoy."

--"I would say that this is probably going to be my favorite of his books. That is until the next one comes out and I read it."

--"Lost Island Smugglers is a quality book full of family values that will keep your preteen boy entertained."

--"This book moves at a fast pace. There are no slow parts where your child will lose interest. It’s full of “Oh, no”s and “Now what are they going to do”s. My children enjoyed it thoroughly."

--"Because my son is such a reluctant reader, I knew he would not read anything I handed him, so we read this aloud. My daughter enjoyed the story just as much as my son did. I believe my son may actually read (on his own) the next book in the Sam Cooper Adventure."

Some dates burn deeply into our collective memory forever. I will never forget where I was and what I was doing on September 11, 2011. You probably know the same. Your children, quite possibly, were not yet born before 9/11, and you will have to explain that famous date to them at an appropriate time. They need your explanation of this shocking and tragic even in America.

Max Elliot Anderson has dedicated his latest adventure fiction, When the Lights Go Out (Comfort Publishing, 2012), to “the memory of 9/11 and the people who lost their lives that day, so we never forget.” Anderson has written numerous adventure books geared for eight-to thirteen-year-old boys.

Peyton Aldrich, the central character, is the son of a US Army colonel who specializes in intelligence. Colonel Aldrich’s top-secret work leaves young Peyton curious yet proud of his father who was recently stationed at a new army base in the middle of nowhere along with his family. The colonel has an important job protecting the country from terrorists. When Peyton and his friends accidentally discover a dangerous plot on the base, they determine to stop it. Will the terrorists catch them? What will happen if the evil plan succeeds? This fast-paced story lives up to Anderson’s previous books. It will hold young readers’ attention right up to the surprise ending.

When the Lights Go Out blog

Video When the Lights Go Out 

Marilyn Rockett is Editor in Chief of Homeschooling Today and a veteran homeschool mom of four grown sons, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild (so far).


Peyton Aldrich is proud of his father. His father is an Army Ranger. He wants to grow up to be just like his dad. When his family moves to a new base Peyton makes two new friends named Dave and Gill. Peyton definitely has a lot of influence. He convinces his new friends that they need to train like the Army Rangers. They soon learn how difficult this is. Peyton pushes them to their limit on the workout course. Peyton decides that working out is not enough for them. They need to find a mission to complete just like the real Army Rangers do. What he and his friends don’t count on is finding a mission that can cost his father his job or put the lives of many Americans in danger. He and his friends have uncovered a terrorist plot and their pretend game becomes a real life and death situation. This is a book that takes place right after the events of 9/11. You don’t have to wait until another anniversary of that date rolls around. This is a book that will grab you and hold you until you read the last word.

- Sandra Stiles

By Max Elliot Anderson

ISBN 978-1-936695-47-8

Comfort Publishing

Reviewer Carolyn R Scheidies

12-year-old Peyton Aldrich finds himself living at a military base in the middle of nowhere. His father can’t tell him much of what he does, but Peyton is impressed his father is a Ranger. When he meets Greg and Dave, both sons of fathers also working on the base, at an old obstacle course, the three decide to train as Rangers. What they don’t realize is that their training will soon be tested when they discover things aren’t all what they should be on the base and terrorism becomes more than a word.

Will Peyton and his friends be able to stop the plot before anyone gets killed?

WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT balances a tense, adventure plot with solid character development for a story that will draw in elementary/tweens who enjoy a story of spies, espionage and mystery. Targeted for tween boys, but many girls will like this story as well.
Crystal Book Reviews

When the Lights Go Out. Max Elliot Anderson. Comfort Publishing. August 2011. YA Ages 8-13. 172 pages. ISBN #: 9781936695478.

Set to be published near the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Max Elliot Anderson's book is meant to convey to young boys (and I think girls, as well as readers of any age) the seriousness of that catastrophic day when 3,000 people died because of a terrorist attack!

Peyton's Dad is a Colonel in the Army. What he does Peyton doesn't know, but he thinks it's something like being a Ranger. So Peyton and his friends decide they will begin their training so that they can become actual Rangers who conduct special missions. One morning while they are hiding, Peyton overhears a telephone conversation between his Dad and someone else about a secret "package" being delivered which must be guarded because of its dangerous contents.

In a second overheard conversation, Peyton and his friends learn that other people are aware of this delivery and are determined to steal it, somehow distracting the soldiers by another means. The plot quickens as the Rangers-in-training try to figure out how to stop this theft from happening without letting Peyton's Dad know about the overheard phone call. The author does a great job in creating the tension, fear, and seriousness of this new and very real mission these boys take on.

The end will surprise you and at the same time make you realize the threat is constant and one's alertness and preparation must be just as vigilant. Great job, Mr. Anderson!!!


Peyton wants to be an Army Ranger, just like his Dad. After 9-11 he feels everyone needs to be alert and fight terrorism. He may get himself into big trouble because of this goal...

Comfort Publishing and the author sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you). Mr. Anderson specializes in writing books for boys who are reluctant readers (as he was earlier in life). He makes his books interesting, full of action and some danger, and there is always an underlying message in his words for the young ones who read them.

Peyton is new to the base, but it doesn't take him long to find a couple of new friends. He wants to practice to be a Ranger, and he talks them into working out on the course with him. It's good exercise and all is going well until they decide to go on a mission, like all Rangers do. That's when they find out that terrorists are planning to steal something from the secured Army base.

Peyton waits too long to tell his father and the boys suddenly find themselves on their own...

The story is busy, the boys have lessons to learn about the Rangers and life in general, and the reader will keep going to see what is going to happen next. Why not pick up a copy of this book for your young reader, especially since we are so close to 9-11 again.

Here is trailer made for this book that gives you a preview of the excitement inside: When The Lights Go Out Happy reading.

Jo Ann Hakola
The Book Faerie
4225 Harrison St
Las Cruces, NM 88005

Captain Jack's Treasure

By Jenifer Schaut

My little boys absolutely LOVE pirates...treasures and adventure!

While my boys are a bit young for this story, at the same time this was a delightful, clean and adventure filled story that was packed enough to hold their attention for a chapter a day, reading time. As a parent that is always looking for quality literature that my boys can grow with (and doesnt include vampires and magic and demons, yuck!) this was a refreshing read indeed. One I am sure we will revisit too as they get older.


By Anne Payne "homesteading" (NC) It's so nice to see someone writing exciting fiction for young boys between the ages of 9 and 12. As the mom of two former reluctant readers, I wish this book, and it's counterparts, had been around when my boys were that age. Filled with wonderful characters, young and old alike, Captain Jack's Treasure is sure to keep even the most hesitant reader glued to the pages of this book.

What little boy doesn't want to be a pirate or a sea captain at some point in their young life? I really liked how the three friends worked together with Captain Jack, their comradarie, and the amount of respect they showed to him and each other. Not only is this a captivating tale but it has spiritual concepts in at as well!

Nicely laid out in short chapters so they aren't overwhelmed, and not too many pages, it keeps a good pace going. They're sure to be enticed to read it just from the cool cover! I recommend this to any parent who has a child struggling with interest in books. Try this one. They just might become hooked on reading for life!


By Sarah J. Bailey

If I was a boy then this would be a wonderfully, enjoyable book - but because I'm not - I still enjoyed it. This is a short book (I received the e-book version) which will hold the attention of a fast moving boy as well as given them a look into the character's Christian world view. The main characters are three boys who are best friends and enjoy treasure hunting on the beach - but they all learn some valuable lessons along the way - especially some tips from the Bible.

There isn't a lot of good, modern (lots of classics though) books for boys to enjoy that aren't riddled with witches, magic and other sinful behavior, so to read this was a breath of fresh air. There was no violence - although an old sailor did tell a pirate ghost story - but even that was VERY brief and I know my oldest would write it off as fanciful and not to be believed. I'm looking forward to maybe reading this with my son but may need to wait a few more months.


Sam, Tony and Tyler are best friends. They are constantly looking for adventure. Sam receives a metal detector from his dad for his birthday. He and his friends have heard that people have found a lot of treasure in the area where they live. They do some research and figure that they can be the ones to find the next great treasure. If the mention of finding treasure doesn’t peak your interest then let’s throw in an old sea captain. We all know that boys, and girls, like stories about treasures and old sea captains. This particular sea captain appears to be hiding something. He hires the boys to help him rebuild his ship. Along the way the captain teaches them about true treasures. This is a book that both boys and girls, and parents will enjoy. I love the gentle message of laying up treasures in Heaven. All of Max’s books have a Christian theme to them. The reason I really like them is that I can put them on my shelves at school. I put them there not only for the Christian students, but also for ALL students. They are clean cut with great messages. They have adventures and mysteries to carry the reader from the first sentence to the end of the book. I would say it is a must read.
- Sandra Stiles

By Charlene L. Amsden "Quilly"

One can tell that Max Elliot Anderson knows the hearts and minds of young boys. The characters, Sam, Tony and Tyler, were typical all-American, adventure-seeking, conclusion-leaping boys full of curiosity and impatience, yet each has his own distinct personality. Bible verses and Bible precepts were embedded in the story without being tract-like or preachy helping the reader learn valuable life lessons right along with Sam, Tony, and Tyler. I highly recommend this book to all adventure-loving (especially pirate-adventure loving) 8 to 11 year old boys or girls.

River Rampage


Reviewer : Laura at Lighthouse Academy

Author: Max Elliot Anderson

Publisher: Port Yonder Press

ISBN: 978-1-935600-15-2

Genre: Young adult

Sam Cooper and his friends believe the rest of their summer is going to be boring after what they experienced earlier after school let out, but when Tony’s Uncle calls and invites Tony and his two best friends (Sam and Tyler) on a float trip down the river on rafts, Sam and Tyler both jump at the chance. Sam’s parents decide it won’t be too big of a risk, especially when they are assured that the raft the boys ride on will be the supply raft and it will be securely tethered to another one, piloted by Tony’s uncle—and experienced river rapids guide.

But that isn’t the way it pans out. The raft becomes unattached the second day on the float trip when they hit class three rapids, and the supply raft springs several leaks, rendering it worthless. Not only that, but everyone goes on, leaving the three boys behind. They set up camp, but then decide to go looking for help when a hooved animal with a bell wanders by, since that means that civilization must be near.

Instead, Sam and his friends find an old prospector whose discovered gold. And claim jumpers are hot on his tail. Sam and his friends try to devise a plan to get the old prospector and themselves to safety before the claim jumpers come in with guns blazing—and hopefully find their river party at the same time.

Readers of any of Max Elliot Anderson’s books know that the books are guaranteed to be exciting, suspenseful, and geared toward boys. RIVER RAMPAGE isn’t any different. It is the third book in the A Sam Cooper Adventure series. RIVER RAMPAGE easily stands alone, but readers will want to read the first two books, Lost Island Smugglers and Captain Jack’s Treasure to be brought up to date on Sam’s summer adventures so far.

Recommended for young adults, tweeners, and especially reluctant readers as that is who Max targets. My son has been a fan of Max Elliot Anderson's books since he was eight and a reluctant reader. My son is now twenty, reads a lot, and he still loves Max's books. $9.95. 168 pages.

In this book we meet Tony’s uncle. Tony is one of Sam’s best friends. Tony’s uncle is a white water river guide. He invites Tony’s friends to go rafting with him. He talks to their parents, assuring them he will keep the boys safe. Their raft will be tied to his. This sounds safe enough so they consent. The second day out on the river things go horribly wrong. The rope breaks tethering them to the guide raft. They get left behind. They make it to land and find an old miner. The old miner has some claim jumpers trying to take his claim from him. The boys jump in to try to help him. Things go from bad to worse. Read the book to find out if they make their way out. Find out what true courage is and how prayer can help in any situation. Once again this was a book that I couldn’t put down. Max Anderson’s writing style is simple enough for reluctant readers and has all of the elements of mystery and adventure that will grab them and hold them until the end of the book.

I am looking forward to the next book in the series This Property is Condemned. It is due out some time next year.
Go to Max's website and check out everything he has to offer. Just because it says Books and Boys it doesn't mean it is not for girls. My female students love these books as much as the boys. Max Anderson was a reluctant reader and he knows what will hook them. So what are you waiting for? Check the website and his books out.
- Sandra Stiles

The Scarecrow

Anderson, Max Elliot. The Scarecrow: A Story That Teaches in This World You Don’t Have to Be Alone (published in 2012 by Lighthouse Christian Publishing, SAN 257-4330, 5531 Dufferin Dr., Savage, MN 55378). How can a boy who has been moved away from his home in the city to live with his uncle and aunt way out in the country find a friend? Eleven-year-old William J. (Billy) Brightman lives in a very rough part of the city with his mom and eight-year-old sister Becky. His dad had left the family a long time ago, and his mother drinks too much. Billy keeps having a dream about being frightened by a mean scarecrow. One day his mother accidentally starts a fire in their house, and the judge says that Billy and his sister have to stay somewhere else for a while. Becky is sent to live with distant relatives in another state while Billy is sent to a farm to live with his Uncle Jim and Aunt Ruth.
At first, Billy doesn’t like it on the farm and tries to be as uncommunicative as possible. But Uncle Jim and Aunt Ruth are very nice to him. He learns to help with the work gathering eggs, feeding the animals, raking leaves, stacking hay, and picking vegetables from the garden. There are a tire swing on a tree and some newborn kittens in the barn to play with. His uncle and aunt also take Billy to church with them. However, he misses Becky and has no other friends. Then he finds that there’s a scarecrow on the farm—just like the one in his dreams! But this is a nice scarecrow. He winks, talks to Billy, and even gets down off his post to play with him. Together they explore the farm, work in the barn, and go fishing. Is this real, or is Billy just pretending to have a make-believe friend? And who does Billy learn is a friend who sticks closer than a brother?
Author Max Elliot Anderson has done it again. Billy is a boy who has experienced some significant problems in his short life, through no fault of his own, but he learns, with the assistance of his wise uncle and loving aunt, the very best way to deal with his situation. Billy makes some mistakes along the way, but he corrects them and determines to do better. It is good for youngsters to read stories about taking responsibility and overcoming difficulties. All children will like The Scarecrow, but I think that it will be especially meaningful for hurting children in difficult home situations because they will be able immediately to identify with Billy and his life with its struggles. To be honest, I’ve never read a Max Elliot Anderson book that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy, and this one is no different. It gets a high five from me. Wayne Walker - Homeschool Book  Review
Brother and sister, Billy and Becky, are made wards of the state when their mother's habits make her unable to properly care for them. Relatives take them in, but they go to different homes. Billy, who is used to caring and watching out for his sister, is not happy when he is sent away to live on a farm with an aunt and uncle he doesn’t know and who have no children of their own.

As much as he fights against it, Billy is impressed with the farm and the freedom he has to run and play. He has an abundance of good food and even chores. His aunt and uncle treat him kindly, though he fights that kindness.

In his loneliness, Billy makes the scarecrow in the field an imaginary friend. But when fire poses a danger and his uncle helps him find the truest friend of all, Billy realizes that God and his aunt and uncle really do care.

Unlike his other books for tweens, THE SCARECROW shares a clear gospel message. A book of entertaining reading with a message for those who hurt and are searching for a way to end the loneliness inside. Reviewer Carolyn R Scheidies
My child just finished reading The Scarecrow by Max Elliott Anderson.  She really liked the book.  It was about a brother and sister who were taken away from their mother and placed in separate homes.  The boy, Billy, was angry for being taken away and separated, but by the end of the book he learns how to love. 

She said her favorite part of the book was when Billy ended up accepting Jesus into his heart after his uncle explained what that meant, and when he was excited and shared that with his sister, he found out she had done the same thing after learning about Jesus from her church and new family. 

My daughter said she definitely wants to read the rest of the books in this series.  She thinks the author writes very well.

Overall, she said she would recommend this book to both boys and girls age eight and up.  However, she feels that even grown-ups would love this book.  Cheri Swalwell


This was a story that I could relate to. As a teacher so many of my students face hardships in life that I’ve never had to face. They see their families torn apart by divorce, drugs, prison and death. In this book Billy and Becky have the misfortune of living with a mother who drinks too much. On one occasion their mother accidentally sets the apartment on fire. Children’s services steps in and removes them from their mother. Billy sees this as a blessing until he realizes he and his sister will be separated. Billy is sent to his aunt and uncle’s farm. He withdraws into himself. Before they were taken from his mom he had been having dreams about a scarecrow. When he sees the scarecrow on his uncle’s farm he starts having conversations with it. His uncle becomes worried and sets out to teach him that there is someone who will be a true friend and will never leave you.

I have to be careful how I teach this lesson because I work in a public school. Putting books like this one on my shelves does the job for me. Max Elliot Anderson is one of the top authors in my book.

- Sandra Stiles



Oct 2008. 112 p. Darby Creek, hardcover, $15.95. (9781581960785).


School Library Journal

BRUCHAC, Joseph, et al. Lay-ups and Long Shots: An Anthology of Short Stories. 112p. Darby Creek, dist. by Lerner. 2008. Tr $15.95. ISBN 978-1-58196-078-5. LC 2009781485.Gr 5–8—Nine authors for children and young adults team up for this compilation of short stories whose focus is the spirit of the game. As with Sports Shorts (Darby Creek, 2005), which included contributions from several of the same authors, these accessible and engaging selections cover a wide range of sports, from basketball to surfing to BMX riding. The protagonists are not star players. Instead, they are the second- or third-stringers who love their particular sport so much that they are willing to be less than perfect. Readers will feel Joseph Bruchac's angst when the coach tells him that he's not cut out to play on his high school basketball team, as well as his sense of triumph when he sinks several shots in a row at home, taking the small victory as a sign that his grandfather will not succumb to poor health. David Lubar introduces Tyler, whose pursuit of the Ping-Pong championship trophy becomes so all-consuming that he learns an important lesson about the price of self-reliance. Whether the stories are based on the authors' own childhoods or not, these protagonists are engaging, and middle schoolers will find much to relate to in the reassuring reminders that perfection is highly overrated. A great way to introduce reluctant readers to some talented voices.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA


Written by many of the same authors but aimed at a younger audience than the entries in Sports Shorts

(2005), these nine new short stories feature tweens or teens who, despite lack of skill or other obstacles, engage in athletic pursuits. Some, such as Joseph Bruchac’s account of failed early basketball dreams and champion canoer Jamie McEwan’s tale of a kayaker who almost loses his shorts in a spill, have autobiographical elements. Terry Trueman tracks an exciting game of “H-O-R-S-E” in a mix of prose and free verse; Jeff’s disability becomes an asset on the football field in Max Elliot Anderson’s “Big Foot”; and in Lynea Bowdish’s “Fat Girls Don’t Run,” overweight Carla turns out to be faster in a race than anyone—including she herself—expects. Consistently readable and engaging, the collection should have as much appeal for geeks as it does for jocks.

— John Peters - Book List

REVIEWED BY: Wayne Walker

We have all heard the old saying, "It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game." Darby Creek Publishing says, "It's whether you get out there and play the game!" In this sequel to Sport Shorts, nine contemporary authors provide short stories that depict the problems and difficulties all athletes must conquer in order to be successful in their sports. Joseph Bruchac and Terry Trueman both investigate basketball and perseverance. Lynea Bowdish tells about a girl who cannot climb a rope in gym class but finds out what she can do. David Lubar explores how one boy trained to be the next table tennis champion. CS Perryess looks at a BMX rider who isn't really sure that dirt-bike racing is a girl's sport. Dorian Cirrone discusses how a surfer overcame his boundaries and enjoyed the ride. Jamie McEwan talks about a boy's embarrassing incident during whitewater rafting. Max Eliot Anderson focuses on the new kid in school with an unusual ability who goes out for the football team. And Peggy Duffy describes one girl's challenges when she is caught between her traditional Korean upbringing and her American love of soccer. Any child who engages in sports should really like these stories. However, as they demonstrate (or seek to promote) good attitudes on the part of both those who play and those who watch, they can be beneficial for athletes and benchwarmers alike. Indeed, they will inspire and encourage all young people to let that athlete within have a try. Aimed primarily at middle-school-aged students, each of the stories has an special plot twist or surprise that will make them interesting reading for people of every age. The book is a Junior Library Guild Selection and certainly deserves the honor. Never much of a sports person myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and give it my hearty endorsement.


Sports stories are usually about success and failure! But those two terms are differently defined in this exciting, unusual collection that will spark the mind of all readers, whether you like sports or not! For these are real stories told about something in each experience that moves the hardest of head and/or hearts!"Ignore the definitions and follow the impulse every inch of the way it leads," might be a most appropriate motto for each character in these terrific stories. You'll meet a guy who can't play basketball for beans until he has a larger vision of why he wants that ball to land in that swishing hoop! And maybe you'll enjoy the "large" girl who can't even come close to excelling in sports until she's fueled by one single, pulsing thought. Or maybe you'd like to meet a shy girl who finally starts being proud about being a BMX punk-girl after a visit from a very old friend. How easy can it be to impress a girl with one's kayaking skills when you lose a loosely strung piece of memorabilia?Lay-Ups and Long Shots works so well because the stories are real living experiences that focus on the most proud, and yes even embarrassing, moments a teen can experience in this high end, glossy world that celebrates six-figure paid athletes but far too often ignores the spirit behind sports that makes real heroes and heroines, the kind who never make to the press. The authors convey the plot-driven tension, dreams and memories behind courageous, all to human men and women like you and me! These are just some of the quickly readable stories that will propel you through these pages quicker than you can blink your eyes! And when you're done, you'll be able to say there's not one dud in the entire 112 pages. That's quite a feat for the collector and even more of a feat for the 9 authors whose tales will stick in your mind and heart for many, many days after you've turned the last satisfying page!Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on October 19, 2008


Do not let the title of this sports story collection fool you. Although nber-popular events such as basketball and soccer receive their due, this anthology of middle-grade shorts offers laugh-out-loud moments from lesser-known athletic contests as well. Who knew ping-pong or kayaking could tug so forcefully on players' heartstrings? In SWISH: A Basketball Story, Bruchac gives a hilarious first-person account of his attempt to make his high school basketball team after barely beating his septuagenarian grandfather at HORSE. Carla Anders, the main character in Lynea Bowditch's Fat Girls (Can't) Don't Run, narrates the anguish larger teens endure in gym class. It is difficult not to be noticed when one cannot move up the climbing rope-at all. Other stories describe a young man's quest to win his first trophy by entering the dangerous (and possibly life-threatening) world of competitive table tennis; the importance of proper clothing on a co-ed kayaking adventure; and the ups and downs of girls doing "guy stuff" like trying to compete in BMX. Each of these nine stories, written by accomplished authors including Dorian Cirrone, David Lubar, and Terry Trueman, displays a wicked sense of humor, shining the spotlight on the less athletic, mediocre players whose love of sport far outweighs their talent for the game. Middle schoolers will see themselves in an eclectic group of sarcastic, hopeful, angsty, self-deprecating yet determined characters. Ideal for booktalks or as a read aloud, this solid choice for reluctant readers will require some pushing to ensure long-term popularity. Reviewer: Jay Wise


I have such an honor to review books. It's a blessing I wouldn't have known about a few years ago. In looking over new writing hitting the market, I get the chance to see a variety of genres and age related material. I review both fiction and non-fiction.Today's book review came out of my desire to support the sport of basketball, lol.I first thought the book was all about stories that drew inspirational connection to the game of basketball. But as I read through each chapter, written by a different author, I realized it was much better than narrowing in on one game. It connects life lessons to all sorts of sports.Lay Ups and Long Shots connects the ideas we learn in sports to the growth that happens on the inside. It's uplifting for kids who aren't used to being the best in sports too. There's a tween girl who can't climb a rope but then finds a surprise ability, there's a boy who deals with a bully and a girl who deals with conflicting responsibilities. Very true to life issues presented in a storyteller's manner.I believe this little book is meant for ages 10 and up, but any elementary reader would enjoy it also. Teachers could easily use this in the lower grades for story time. Each short story is enjoyable and interesting.Another thing I liked about it was the Korean girl in the last chapter. I enjoyed the cultural differences that kept the story going and helped create a bigger picture than the sport she wanted to play.If you have an elementary student, I'd encourage this book as a stocking stuffer. They'll think it's fun and interesting while as a parent, you'll feel like you have a tool to support some of the lessons your child needs to grow.Enjoy!Angie

Posted by Angela Breidenbach


This exciting little book is perfect for reluctant readers, whether they are active in sports or not. Nine writers tell provocative stories that will keep you reading. You'll find everything from running to ping pong in stories that will inspire the athlete in you; even if you are a bench warmer, these stories will entertain you, too.

Joseph Bruchac tells the story of a boy who is trying desperately to be on the basketball team, but eventually finds his niche in wrestling. Max Elliot Anderson deals with the crippling problem of having one foot that is normal sized and the other enormous and being the new kid in school. Being overweight is a challenge in "Fat Girls Don't Run" by Lynea Bowdish, but staying invisible is the key. What happens when a dirty BMX punk-girl does guy stuff? C. S. Perryess has that one covered. If surfing is your sport, ride the waves with Dorian Cirrone, and the boy with the withered leg and a crutch.

Plot twists and surprises are in every fast moving story. This book is uplifting and will have you cheering for more.

Reviewed by My Shelf


Why I write action-adventures and mysteries for kids 8 and up.
Even though I grew up in a house full of books--my dad was an author of over 70 books--I didn't love reading like my siblings. I’d be the first person to tell you I was a reluctant reader and that even today, it isn't a favorite activity.

About ten years ago I decided to explore why. In that research, I discovered a pattern: the books I looked at just didn't interest me. The style was boring, the dialog was sometimes sparse or when it was used, it seemed too adult. I was looking for action, adventure, suspense, and humor.

I started writing action-adventure & mystery books that I would have liked if I could go back in time. My books are written for 8- to 13-year-olds, especially boys, who are reluctant, unhappy, or struggling readers. Yet they are also enjoyed by avid readers too.
Before I started writing, I produced films, video programs, and TV commercials that involved the action that, ironically, was what I had been searching for in my reading. I’ve been involved in the production of some of the most successful Christian films for children including Hobo and the Runaway, The Mystery of Willouby Castle, The Great Banana Pie Caper, and many others.

My video productions have earned national awards including three Telly Awards (the equivalent of the Oscar™ for movies). I was involved in a PBS television special, GOSPEL AT THE SYMPHONY, that won a nomination for an Emmy, and the double album won a Grammy.

But, the responses to my books have been the most surprising, and rewarding. NEWSPAPER CAPER, TERROR AT WOLF LAKE, NORTH WOODS POACHERS, MOUNTAIN CABIN MYSTERY, BIG RIG RUSTLERS, SECRET OF ABBOTT'S CAVE & LEGEND OF THE WHITE WOLF, are compared by readers and reviewers to Tom Sawyer, The Hardy Boys, Huck Finn, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, Scooby-Doo, Lemony Snicket, and adventure author Jack London.

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Max Elliot Anderson
P.O Box 4126
Rockford, IL 61110

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