Cover image for Mystery in Mt. Mole
Mystery in Mt. Mole
Jennings, Richard W. (Richard Walker), 1945-
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2003.
Physical Description:
144 pages ; 22 cm
While twelve-year-old Andrew J. Forrest searches for Mr. Farley, the very unpopular assistant principal at Mt. Mole Middle School, strange things are happening on the town's namesake hill.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.7 5.0 72875.
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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Assistant Principal Jacob Farley had disappeared, but as Mt. Mole's least-liked citizen, no one in town seemed to be in any hurry to find him or his captor. So thirteen-year-old Andrew J. Forrest takes on the investigation himself, discovering along the way many buried secrets about his hometown, its population, and most explosively, about the town's namesake hill, Mt. Mole itself.

Author Notes

Richard W. Jennings has published more than fifty essays, articles, and short stories, including The Tragic Tale of the Dog Who Killed Himself, published by Bantam Books in 1980 to widespread critical acclaim, in addition to his recent titles published with Houghton Mifflin - Orwell's Luck, The Great Whale of Kansas, My Life of Crime, and Scribble. He is cofounder of a popular Kansas City-area bookstore and former editor of KANSAS CITY MAGAZINE. He has five children, four grandchildren, a dog, a cat, and a parrot and lives in Kansas.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6-9. Quirky is the operative word for Jennings' previous novels, and this one is possibly the most outrageously imaginative yet. The curious cover photo--a grasshopper, a pile of popcorn, and a piece of plaid fabric--sets the tone for not one mystery as the title implies, but three: What happened to Mr. Farley, Mt. Mole Middle School's disagreeable assistant principal? What's that rumbling issuing from Mt. Mole, the odd, solitary mound rising from the flatlands surrounding the town that takes its name? And who is Andrew J. Forrest's father? Precocious, 13-year-old Andy, whose vocabulary and dreamy philosophizing makes him seem like a grown-up stuck in middle school by mistake (except when pretty Georgia Wayne is around) is the narrator here, a bumbling, truly dedicated fan of both Mt. Mole and the odd characters (Andy being one himself) who live there. Before the separate stories come together in one literally slam-bang conclusion, readers are treated to lots of tongue-in-cheek humor and some genuine surprises revolving around the larger-than-life Mt. Mole populace and the small town in which they live. It's a large-hearted entertaining burlesque, set in a world apart yet still very recognizable. --Stephanie Zvirin Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Jennings's (My Life of Crime) loony, often clever novel, the unpopular assistant principal of Mt. Mole goes missing-and the eccentric townspeople seem unconcerned with solving the case. Andy (who's so close to 13 that he "may as well go ahead and claim it") decides to pursue it himself. As in the comic books Andy loves, the author creates "improbable plots, exaggerated situations, unlikely coincidences, and an ensemble of wisecracking characters" as Andy starts unraveling the mystery, from making a list of suspects to making note of some unusual occurrences (the mountain itself looks different, and wealthy Mr. Knott's properties are suddenly for sale). Zaniness abounds-Mr. Knott's businesses range from the Knott Hungry restaurant to the Knott Secure Savings and Loan, for example-and a cast of kooky characters, such as Chief Eagle Talon, the head of the volunteer police who solves crimes using "psychic powers." But there is some genuine emotion, too. Andy's house was among those destroyed by a devastating tornado and, even though his would-be girlfriend Georgia derides Mt. Mole (calling the prairie town a "stupid, sad sack burg" and its unlikely mountain an "ugly pimple"), Andy feels a certain loyalty to his hometown and thinks of its citizens as family. Overall, readers will find plenty to laugh about as they travel around town with Andy on Pegasus, his battery-powered scooter-and be impressed with this novel's disarming wrap-up. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-This meandering and disappointing mystery takes place in a town called Mt. Mole, which was built on a small volcano. When Mr. Farley, the despised assistant principal, disappears, no one cares except 12-year-old Andy, who sets out to find him. The plot is predictable, and it's difficult to care about the many characters and their plights. There is little depth or spark beyond their clever names-Dr. Blemish, Miss Fleece, and Mrs. Bagelbottom-and the nonstop, goofy monikers such as the Knott Hungry Cafe and the Butcher Beauty School are likely to bring groans rather than laughs. The ending is weak, with Andy discovering that this unlikable man is his father, a fact that his mother dismisses by saying, "That was a long time ago." A thin, uninvolving story that lacks resolution.-JoAnn Jonas, Chula Vista Public Library, San Diego, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.