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Lost Island Smugglers (A Sam Cooper Adventure, Book 1) Review by Brandi Tesreau

By Max Elliot Anderson

"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.

Product review by Brandi Tesreau, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2011