The Boy Who Knew Too Much, by Commander S.T. Bolivar, III (2016)

The Boy Who Knew Too Much, Munchem Academy 1, by Commander S.T. Bolivar, IIIWhen Mattie Larimore accidentally steals a train (the only time he is caught in his entire criminal career), his father decides the 11-year-old is following too closely in his brother Carter’s footsteps, and sends him to the same reform school, Munchem Academy. As soon as he arrives, Mattie makes it his mission to get back home. He tries being good, but fails miserably when he reacts to a bully who is also his dorm-mate. Carter ignores his pleas for guidance. Mattie finds help in a pair of squabbling siblings, Caroline and Eliot. The three discover that beneath Munchem Academy is a lab that is taking the school’s reform mission to a whole new level. Mattie realizes that his rebellious brother is at high risk receiving the terrible treatment, and vows to destroy the machine. His friends at his side, Mattie takes on the nasty Headmaster Rooney and the rest of the academy staff, honing the criminal skills that will serve him so well in his career. This is a fun adventure with a lot of humour, hapless adults and a Lemony Snicket-like narrator. The first in the Munchem Academy series, it will appeal to young readers who enjoy mysteries with narrow escapes for young protagonists. Good writing, a a spooky setting populated with quirky and interesting characters, and a lot of heart, all combine to make this a winner. I really enjoyed Caroline’s matter-of-fact courage: “Adventures,” she tells Mattie and Eliot, “aren’t always pony rides down rainbows.” Loved it! My thanks to publisher Disney-Hyperion for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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