When an author states in his “Forward” he changed the names of people mentioned in his book to avoid a well-deserved beating, the reader knows he/she is in for a wild ride. And so it proves with David Michaelson’s Rapscallion Summer.
If even half of the stories Michaelson narrates are half true, he must have indeed been a “rapscallion.” Laugh out loud funny, he’s a parent’s worst dream come true. This twelve-year-old boy is only interested in adventure. His parents and other adults, however, see it as mischief, to put it mildly. Looking back, Michaelson admits he might have toned things down, but you can just see the wicked glint in his eyes as he says this.
Who else could get himself and his sister thrown off ride after ride of the newly opened Disneyworld for misbehavior? Who else could get a friend landed in the hospital after a boulder crashed onto his head? Who else got sent time after time to cut a “switch” (yes, children were swatted in that summer of 1955) and got sent to bed without dinner for what he’d been caught doing? Of course, that was only when he was actually caught. He didn’t hold it against his father for swatting his behind for the street lamp he didn’t break because he’d done so many other things to deserve it instead.
Not all the stories reek of devilry. Some, like the tale of his dog, Tippy, are sad. Some, like his first attempt to sit next to a girl at a movie are wistful. Occasionally, even, Michaelson, the arch imp, turns law abiding citizen, as when he and his family confronted and ran off a fishing poacher.
Rapscallion Summer definitely keeps one’s interest. While I would never recommend this book for middle school, boys lest it give them some wrong ideas with details how to do it, I would heartily recommend it for adults. It’s a pleasant romp in a time when naughty boys still tured out to be solid (we hope) citizens.
Reviewed by: Barbara Peacock (2012)
A humorous romp thru a 12 year-old rascal's glorious summer.