review: The Last Day of Summer

w204.jpgtitle: The Last Day of Summer
author: Lamar Giles
illustrator: Dapo Adeola
date: Versify; April 2019
main characters: Otto Alston and Sheed Alston
SFF

Review based on an advanced copy

Otto and Sheed are young Black boys, cousins actually who live with their grandmother in Logan County, Virginia. The two couldn’t be more different. Otto is always deducing and writing in his notebook about something or another while Sheed is pretty much just along for the ride. Grandma said to them “Boys, why you always got to be at odds? One fast, one slow. One say east, t’other say west. Stop all that foolishness.” (p. 6)

Yet, together, the Logan Boys are local legends. They’re often outdone by twin sisters Wiki and Leen Ellison, aka the Epic Ellisons, and Otto’s not having it. He wants one headline worthy adventure before school begins the next day. Even though Sheed just wants to sleep, the two boys head out in search of adventure and it doesn’t take long for them to find it in Mr. Flux. He comments to the boys that there’s just not enough time in the day and Otto responds, “Thank you for your concern, Mr. Flux. Indeed, we could do a lot more good for the county if we had more time.”
Mr. Flux’s smile grew to a width that threatened to split his head in two. “Oh! Oh my goodness! I may be able to help you, if only in a small way. With a gift.” (p. 12)

And so begins their adventure as Mr. Flux proceeds to give them all the time they need in that one day, the last day of summer.

Logan County, VA isn’t an ordinary place. It’s filled with Laughing Locust, hidden treasures, the Eternal Creek and there’s a reality tear in the old Machen house. So, what happens to these young cousins is just another day’s exploit to them. To readers, is a fast paced adventure where time takes on a new dimension: it comes to life! Mr. Giles creates personalities, wardrobes and attitudes for these unusual characters who play key roles in the story.

“Hello,” all fifty or sixty tiny men said at once, startling Otto and Sheed.
“Maybe,” the men began in unison, “you two just don’t understand the wisdom of Sylvester and Vanessa.”
Sheed shook his head. “No. It’s not wisdom. It’s just–”
“Or maybe, ” the men said, “you understand all too well. Hmmmm.” And all fifty or sixty men stroked their chins, as if in deep thought.
Otto twisted toward A.M. and P.M. and whispered, “Who are they?”
P.M. whispered back, “The Second Guessers.”

“They work with the Minute Men, “A.M. added, pointing to the opposite side of the library where another group of fifty or sixty men in loose fitting jogging suits gathered. “Together, they handle some of the more tedious time-management tasks Clock Watchers are responsible for.” (p. 15)

There are surprising twists and turns that are most often humorous but through all of this, Mr. Giles carries out a rather serious theme that young readers will appreciate. Illustrations throughout the book were created by Dapo Adeola.

You’ll want to go ahead and add this one to your bookshelves first. because how many MG SFF books are there with black Boys leading the adventure? And second, because according to Mr. Giles, this is just the first in a series set in Logan County featuring the Epic Ellisons and the Legendary Alston Boys. You’ll want to have a complete set!