Monday, November 14, 2016

Tom Stetson, Book 3 - And the Blue Devil

The third, and final, book in this vintage children's series was actually the real reason why I bought the series to begin with.  Unfortunately, of the three books, this was actually the hardest for me to get through.

Tom Stetson and the Blue Devil picks up the summer after Tom Stetson on the Trail of the Lost Tribe, as Tom returns to the Amazon jungles to visit with his uncle, Leo Jason.  While the prior two books were quick to swing into the action, incorporating the descriptions of the lavish jungles and its inhabitants, both plant and animal, this book spends the first 100 pages simply describing the men's journey down the Amazon to a place where they can search for an Indian known as the "Blue Devil."  The author, John Henry Cutler, provides such detailed descriptions of the plant life and wild animals that dwell in the forested land that it's obvious he has first-hand knowledge of the area.  However, it becomes a bit tedious when the descriptions begin to repeat, and there is no movement whatsoever in the story.

Once we get past that 100-page mark, though, the story picks up pace rather quickly.  Poor Manolo, Uncle Leo's adopted ward, once again gets kidnapped, and it's up to Tom and his uncle to rescue him.  In the process, though, Uncle Leo gets kidnapped, and Tom finds himself alone, having to not only save Manolo, but also find his own uncle!  In the process, Tom meets and must face off against the Blue Devil himself (who, interestingly enough, speaks perfect English and seems to live just as easily as an Englishman as he does an Indian).

Cutler builds upon Tom's previous experiences in the last two books to help him evade capture himself and to climb unbelievably tall trees and swing across vines.  I personally found it interesting that no matter what Tom was doing - whether it be climbing a tree, crossing between trees on a thick vine, swinging vines from tree to tree, or even swimming in piranha-infested waters, he always manages to have his backpack with him and it manages to stay dry at all times.  Only in series books, I suppose...

Ursula Koering once again provides illustrations throughout the story, and the beautifully-painted wrap-around cover (the artist of which is not defined) depicts the boys daring escape from the Motilon tribe of Indians.  I give the author credit - despite the lengthy and somewhat boring first half, the second half of the story more than makes up for it, with a lot of close-calls, dangerous escapades, and a rather sneaky plan to help them evade the clutches of the Blue Devil's tribe.

While the conclusion of the story hints at more adventures to come, alas, this is the last book in the series.  Whether Cutler never intended to write any more, or the books just didn't sell well enough for the publisher to ask for any more is a mystery, I suppose, that will remain unsolved.

RATING:  5 iron vests out of 10 for bringing the jungles of Brazil and the Amazon to life in such a vivid way and making an adventure story for boys interesting enough for me to read.

No comments:

Post a Comment