Book talks for readers at Chisago Lakes Middle School.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Dead Boys by Royce Buckingham

“There is a 5th dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination.” It is an area which we find ourselves in the book, The Dead Boys, by Royce Buckingham.

Teddy Matthews, like any typical 12-year-old would, hates to be the new kid in town, especially in the middle of nowhere named Richland, Washington. He suspects his new hometown in the desert crawls with scorpions and hides rattlesnakes in every hole. His mom facetiously remarks that it’s the black widow spiders that actually get into houses that he should really worry about. She playfully winks at Teddy and encourages him to make the best of it. She calmly reassures him that there will be plenty of new kids to meet. On that point Teddy Matthews doesn’t need to worry. They were already looking for him.

As Teddy canvasses his new neighborhood, he discovers a dirt trail that leads him and his bike to Leslie Groves Park. A park is a good place to meet someone new. He runs into a boy named Albert. Albert is friendly enough, but he acts like a gopher constantly sensing trouble. Trouble soon arrives in the form of Henry Mulligan. Apparently, Henry Mulligan would like nothing more than to bully Albert and his new sidekick. Suddenly, a strange survival instinct kicks in and Albert commands Teddy to hop on his bike. Albert quickly concocts a plan to distract the bully by jumping into the river and then to swim for his escape while Teddy bikes towards town. They agree to meet up in town at the bookstore after Henry Mulligan is safely behind them. Yet, when Teddy arrives in town, no one seems to know about a bookstore. There hasn’t been a bookstore in Richland for at least ten years. When there's no sign of Albert, Teddy decides to take a chance and bikes back to the park to look for him. When he gets there, Leslie Groves Park isn’t the same. The bike trail is paved. Modern playground equipment has been installed. A brick building for bathrooms sits in the middle of the park where barely a blade of grass poked out of the sand just a few hours before. Did Teddy imagine the whole incident with Albert and the bully? He can't find Albert or Henry, but Teddy Matthews doesn't need to worry about that, the boys of Richland have found him.

Behind Teddy’s house, an unnaturally large Sycamore tree presides over the neighborhood like it gives the orders in these parts . Surprisingly, the tree looks in perfect health yet is surrounded by desert sand and dry weeds. One glance at it and you’d swear it has sucked out the life of everything around. Despite its healthy appearance the tree is thirsty, and it’s been a long ten years since the last time.

A thousand leaves, like a thousand hands, turn slightly to greet their new 12-year-old neighbor as he parks his bike, bewildered, and unsure of what he has just seen or not seen in the park. Teddy Matthews definitely needs to worry. The tree... is thirsty once again.

“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension, a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas.” You’ve just crossed over into the book, The Dead Boys, by Royce Buckingham.

-(Intro and conclusion are from the classic TV show, The Twilight Zone, created by Rod Serling.)

If The Dead Boys sounds interesting to you, then you might also like, Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising, by Jason Henderson. If you are looking for a vampire story with a ton of action with a little less Bella and Edward, this might be worth a look.

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