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It's Up to Charlie Hardin by Dean Ing
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It's Up to Charlie Hardin

by Dean Ing

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The setting for Ing's version of Tom Sawyer is the Austin, Texas of 1944. (The book jacket has the wrong date.)

There are some typical Ing features: accident and the human emotions of pride, avarice, and ego tangling lives and leading to a collision of characters. This is not the first book of Ing's to feature young characters in prominent roles.

But there are no fantastic elements. No espionage despite the mention of Nazis. And the only planes are model ones.

But it is a charming story told in a sardonic, wry voice not afraid to point out portentous connections to events the character are oblivious to and point out his characters' foibles.

Our characters are
1.The impulsive, stubborn, and prideful Charlie Hardin
2.Charlie's smarter and more prudent friend Aaron Fischer who still finds himself pulled into Charlie's schemes
3.Roy Kinney, sneaky, whiny, not too bright and 10 years old to Charlie and Aaron's 12.
4.Jackie Rhett, budding juvenile delinquent and something of a bully, fat, fast, and rather smart.
5.Lint, Charlie's clever and loyal dog.

Rounding out the cast is Charlie's dad, a juvenile offender officer with the city, Charlie's mom, a couple of criminals, and Eugene Carpenter, budding sociopath and criminal genius at age 13.

In the months between April and June 1944, Charlie and Aaron wander from diversion to diversion: model airplanes, combining gourds and giant slingshots, flaming tires, wandering the capitol grounds of Austin seeking treasure and the storm drains of Austin responding to dares.

It was an age when kids like Charlie and Aaron weren't feral or neglected -- just normal, and a kid like Charlie wouldn't find himself with a Ritalin prescription.

Ing tacks on an afterward hinting at the lines of between autobiography and invention.

I recognize the spirit of Dean's story even if my boyhood, three decades later and in a very different setting, shared few of the events in Charlie's boyhood.

All in all, a book that should appeal to many beyond Ing's usual readership. ( )
1 vote RandyStafford | Feb 28, 2016 |
Ing is known for his well-written techno-thrillers. This is his first book for young people, a semi-autobiographical novel of a boy in World War II-era Texas.

Charlie Hardin is intelligent, impulsive, and adventurous, a combination that gets him and his friend Aaron into a lot of trouble. From building a "dogapult" to get a glider out of a tree, to exploring storm drains and encountering counterfeiters, Charlie has a lot of adventures in the summer of 1944.

Charlie is an appealing character, very true-to-life. This book is both exciting and a lot of fun. Highly recommended. ( )
  readinggeek451 | Jan 24, 2015 |
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In the summer of 1942, young teen Charlie Hardin is set loose in Austin, Texas, with one command, to stay out of trouble, but there are some situations he cannot ignore and he comes to understand that, no matter the cost, when danger arrives he must be brave, resolute, clever, and just a little bit crazy.… (more)

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