Touchdown Tony Crowne and the Mystery of the Missing Cheerleader by Peter Guy George
Genre: Young Adult, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (160 pages)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
Tony Crowne is your normal, run-of-the-mill back-up quarterback and aspiring detective who has his share of troubles: He hates the nickname his father gave him, his eighty-pound dog clobbers his mother and grandfather at breakfast and he gets into a fight with the biggest kid in school.
Worst of all, his best friend, cheerleader Ashley Richardson, disappears the morning before Tony’s big football game. Did she run away? Was she kidnapped? Is she alive?
Now, Tony must help his team win the big game and help a retired police detective find Ashley before it’s too late.
All Tony has to do is simultaneously solve a mystery and help his team win. How hard can it be?
I really enjoyed the characterization in this story. Tony’s kind, playful personality peeks through the very first scene, and it was a fun glimpse of his approach to the challenges of life. This is is the first book in a new series, so it will be interesting to see how Tony changes as he grows up. His friends had less time to display their personalities due to the short length of this novel, but I see a lot of promise in Judd and Ashley and hope that they will make future appearances in future sequel.
There were times when the dialogue felt stilted. Main characters use words that are a little old-fashioned for their age group or that don’t quite fit the scene. At other times too much exposition was included in what should have been much shorter conversations. The information the characters dig up in these scenes is valuable and interesting, but it would have worked better for this reader had it been presented, say, in a newspaper article or through body language instead.
Mr. George’s sense of humour is perfect for this age group. I started laughing in the very first scene and found something to bring a smile to my face in many more scenes to follow. The funniest ones by far involve a very mischievous dog named Curly who has a knack for sniffing out poorly-guarded treats regardless of the consequences.
At first I had some trouble determining if I agreed with the age recommendation that is mentioned in the blurb for this book. The fairly simple vocabulary and the inclusion of certain jokes in the plot seems to be more appropriate for kids who are still a few years away from celebrating a double-digit birthday. As the plot thickens, though, I quickly understood why the author chose the 10+ age range. None of the scenes are inappropriate for preteens, but some themes and plot twists are too intense for younger readers.
The short, snappy chapters in Touchdown Tony Crowne and the Mystery of the Missing Cheerleader make it perfect to read aloud. This is a great choice for reluctant readers or anyone in the mood for a lighthearted mystery.