The Gauntlet
by Johnathan V. Cann
School Kids SG Series

"Any citizen of Woodvale, no matter his or her viewpoint on the subject, is sure to be familiar with the long-fought war between the Go-Cart Gang and local teenage crime lord Burt Canarre."

Neighborhood foes turn out to be worthy and highly believable adversaries in this dialogue-rich, David-versus-Goliath novel that is only the first in a planned series. Good descriptions abound such as the near journalistic description of Woodvale in the Prattcorn Valley as a "river-crossed, partially-forested region of northeastern New Jersey that encompassed a handful of densely-packed suburban towns." Even if readers have never been to New Jersey, that depiction rings true as does a mall which was "little more than a collection of mammoth white cubes that... lit up the forest for miles around with its neon signs and flood lamps."

The various characters presented here are also quickly set apart in short but telling ways: "Flint was doing something he never liked to do—sitting still and brooding. He didn't like doing it any more than usual but, for once, he couldn't help himself."

The action in the book takes place in the future or 2029 to be exact. That was the time when grown up crime lord Burt Canarrre was little more than a common bully terrorizing the local Barkley Elementary School. A local group decides they will bring him down. The suspense mounts as readers find others, acting alone, have failed. But the gang succeeds because they learn to be a team. Not a new notion, of course, but it remains a universal lesson fitting for all ages. Readers will discover that the gang develops unexpected and ingenious ways to accomplish their mission.

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