Published by Milkweed on November 1st 2010
Eleven-year-old Sebby has found the perfect escape from his crummy house and bickering family: The Hole in the Wall. It’s a pristine, beautiful glen in the midst of a devastated mining area behind Sebby’s home. But not long after he finds it his world starts falling apart: his family’s chickens disappear, colors start jumping off the wall and coming to life, and after sneaking a taste of raw cookie dough he finds himself with the mother of all stomachaches. When Sebby sets out to solve these mysteries, he and his twin sister, Barbie, get caught in a wild chase through the tunnels and caverns around The Hole in the Wall — all leading them to the mining activities of one Stanley Odum, the hometown astrophysicist who’s buying up all the land behind Sebby’s home. Exactly what is Mr. Odum mining in his secret facility, and does it have anything to do with the mystery of the lost chickens and Sebby’s stomachache? The answers to these questions go much further than the twins expect.
The story really intrigued me and as I started reading it I really became engulfed in the life of Sebby and all the mysterious things going on around him. The plot is probably the hardest thing to explain without ruining the whole book for you, so I'm going to generalize. You have the realistic feel of a boy growing up on a farm and his hardships and then add all the mysterious things happening and it grew into quite the catch of a read – one that contained excitement while still keeping a very realistic feel to it. I really enjoyed seeing where it went and I have to say this book surprised me by being not just a good read but a fantastic one.
I love how real the characters are, all of them. Sebby is definitely your average 11 year old boy, who would rather run around then do chores and keeps a lot to himself. His sister Barbie cracked me up, as she was quite a bit like me when I was growing up – always had to have her homework done and sometimes used her well-known good habits and nature to get out of trouble. I love flawed characters and it's nice to read a book where there's no perfect life or a perfect girl/guy in the story.
Final Verdict: I really related to the kids in this story, seeing a bit of my childhood and myself in each of them and I felt like it drew me closer into the story.