"Sign of the Green Dragon is an intriguing high-stakes plot brimming with dark secrets, unsolved murders, and mystical dragons in a race against a ticking clock. A compelling combination of criminal underworld and ancient lore, readers will enjoy hunting for treasure at their own peril with this resourceful group of young detectives. Magic, mystery, and mayhem reign in this tale of friendship and adventure that will leave you guessing until the end - and hope for more adventures to come!"
Sounds good, doesn't it? If you have a middle grader, or if you know a middle grader that likes to read, I definitely recommend this book (and C. Lee's others, as well). It's well-written and exciting. And I really liked the ending. But it's just a standalone...or is it?
And then there is I Will Send Rain, by Rae Meadows. This is for the September Palo Alto Books, Inc. 4th Tuesday Night Book Club (which I just came back from). The story takes place in 1934 in a small rural town in Oklahoma. It's all about a drought and dust and famine. This is one of the very few books that I can say had the same pace (and effect) from start to finish. I did end up giving it a 2.5/4, so I didn't not like it. The best word I can use to describe it is vanilla. That doesn't mean it wasn't well written. I guess it was.
"The roof of the Woodrow place sagged in the middle like the body of an old mule."
"...but here was a woman who felt right, who, when he thought of her, clicked into place like a suitcase clasp."
I even had one (very) brief moment of eyebrow raising. But that was really the only reaction I had throughout the whole book. I definitely cared more for the 6th grade boys than I did for this family. That's a tribute to C. Lee McKenzie and, maybe, a slight criticism of Rae Meadows. The other possibility, which I shudder to consider, is that the problem is me! Nah.
P.S. It actually could be me. On Amazon, the rating is 4.7/5 (44 ratings). And on Goodreads, it's 4/5, with 440 ratings. As Popeye used to say, "Well blow me down."