Red, Right, Return

By June Keating Sherwin

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

IR Verdict: This well-paced children’s mystery and adventure story is satisfactorily scary without being violent. The Florida Keys are both friendly--around the family’s vacation home--and menacing--in the ocean and the swamp.

Book Reviews, eBooks, Fiction, IRDA Winners, Kids  •  May 15, 2012

If you’re suffering the gloom of a northern latitude spring, you could do a lot worse than joining Chad and his sister Georgene on this charming Florida Keys adventure.

Inquisitive eleven-year old Chad notices some men diving without a dive flag in a marine sanctuary. He and fourteen-year old Gene have taken the family’s skiff out to nearby Sugarloaf Key–their first adult-free boat trip. Misadventure, in the form of an unexpected storm, soon follows and Dad keeps them home for a couple of days, doing yard work.

But Chad can’t shake the feeling that the men were up to no good. They were diving for something–maybe sunken treasure. Gene, though, has discovered that she likes being “good,” as Chad sees it, while helping Mom help their grandparents, and is, for the first time, reluctant to join in with his investigation. When Dad has to leave for a work meeting, Chad slips away from the neighbor and enlists the help of his friend Turner, whose uncle once worked with a treasure salvage operator. Gene realizes Chad has gone and sets out to bring him home before their father returns. But the mysterious boat has returned and Chad wants proof that the men are doing something illegal.

Then things go horribly awry. The children are captured by the mysterious men, and find themselves swimming through a snake infested mangrove swamp worrying about alligators. Sponge fishermen, the marine patrol, and, finally, legitimate treasure hunters all contribute to the plot, all sharing the Florida marine waters, all dependent, in some way, on the integrity of the coral reefs.

Chad and Gene squabble as siblings do, but brother and sister come together in the end to combat the would-be despoilers of Florida’s marine heritage.

This well-paced children’s mystery and adventure story is satisfactorily scary without being violent. The Florida Keys are both friendly–around the family’s vacation home–and menacing–in the ocean and the swamp. The kids’ parents are engaged in their children’s lives, but also engrossed in their own. There’s plenty here to entertain young readers, and their adult friends.

Reviewed by Brid Nowlan for IndieReader