Reviewer: Samantha Vandersloot Source:
Arthur T. Lee
Illustrated by Nick Bontorno
Albert McTweed is a real boy on the brink of a really big problem. PJ McDougal, on the other hand, is a cowboy from Albert's imagination with no real problems at all. But all of that changes one terrible afternoon when Albert's parents separate and Albert and PJ actually meet --face to face. From there, the adventure - a blur of reality and imagination - really and not-so-really begins. Albert's elementary school proves corrupt, a murder of gargantuan proportions takes place, and a bitter betrayal exposes his whereabouts to a gang of vicious criminals led by the elusive Al Godon. And while knowledge is crucial in the real world, it is only Albert's IMAGINATION that has the power to save his life and his family.
This young-adult book is vivid with imagination. Albert E. McTweed is a 6th grader with a problem. Albertís parents have separated, and his dad has moved out. When Albert realizes his dad is gone, he struggles with the feeling that itís his fault. Alone in his room, Albert canít stop thinking about everything he could have done differently to prevent his dad from leaving. Just then, Albert hears a knock on his bedroom window, and who should appear but PJ, the cowboy from Albertís frequent and vivid daydreams.
When the parallel worlds of Albert and PJ start to overlap, the story really gets going. ďPartners AgainĒ is written with a kidís perspective in mind. The author has crafted a well-written, multi-layered and entertaining tale based on the workings of a young personís imagination. The issue of parental separation is relevant and important in many kidsí lives, and this book deals with it in a unique way. There is even a glossary of some of the more advanced words at the end of the book, which is a great way to help young readers learn new vocabulary.
Although a large part of the story is actually taking place inside Albertís imagination, the difference between fantasy and reality may not be clear. A major aspect of the plot does feature an organized crime network that uses violence. The final showdown between the good guys and the bad guys, although one of Albertís daydreams, was originally quite violent and bloody for a kidís book, but the author has toned it down to make it more family friendly. Some characters are also murdered in the story. We do award our Dove "Family-Approved" Seal to the manuscript, which is due to be published soon, and we do so for ages twelve and above. It is a read fit for the imagination!
Content Description: Sex: Woman kisses man on the cheek; man imagines kissing woman; woman kisses man. Language: None Violence: Man thrown into water with cement shoes; man shot in hand but not graphic; boy bites man to defend himself; cut in woman's face; man is shot-not graphic; man chokes boy; boy defends himself with scissors. Drugs: Bar with whiskey bottles; PJ drinks a lot of whiskey under the duress of a beautiful villainess; kid is in detention for sniffing markers; reference to cigars. Nudity: Man hallucinates seeing women in bathing suits while dehydrated in the desert. Other: Boy punches wall out of frustration; man kicks wall out of frustration; boyís parents separate, but they get back together in the end; many jokes are made about one particular character being overweight.