American Stonehenge is the first book in the The Adventures of Jimmy and Andrew series by Mike Goldstein, who was kind enough to send me a copy of his novel in exchange for an honest review (thank you). The middle grade novel revolves around Jimmy, a kind-hearted nine-year-old boy who always wanted a dog, and Andrew, the apparently immortal dog Jimmy rescues from the pound. Together with the protagonist’s father and a handful of other people, they travel to Washington on a quest to discover something that shaped human history. While on the “work trip”, they meet different people and even creatures and learn about different cultures and what telepathy really implies.
The plot of the novel is quite unique, interesting and at points even unbelievable as it manages to comprise both historical and supernatural elements. While the plot itself makes the novel worthy of praise, the approach to the friendship between a human and a dog is what caught my attention. Telepathy is often used in depictions of human-canine relationships; however, I’ve never read anything that implies telepathic communication as a means to discover one’s roots or find others of the same kind or as a tool to explore history. Accordingly, Goldstein manages to capture the reader’s attention from the very first pages through his manner of approach to the subject in discussion. While fast paced and with an accessible language, the novel is educational as well: it teaches, amongst others, through Jimmy and Andrew’s adventures, about history, from ancient Egypt to the history of the U.S.A, it educates children about the importance of preserving native culture and historical sites, etc.
As far as it was a good read, I found it difficult to rate it more than three stars, and that for multiple reasons. One of them would be that the characters lacked depth, which is something I often stumble across in middle grade books (I’m not sure if it’s something specific to this category of novels or some personal issue of mine with character and world building). On the other hand, some parts felt a bit too far-fetched, which, once again, has more to do with personal preferences than anything else. However, American Stonehenge is a solid three-stars read I believe children would love, especially those looking for a fun and intriguing read that involves a gifted dog and a curious boy.
Title: American Stonehenge
Author: Mike Goldstein
Publication Date: 2018
Publisher: J & A Ventures, LLC
Format: Paperback|280 pages