Tom Slade at Temple Camp

September 1, 2017

I think I must have randomly come across Tom Slade at Temple Camp in a used bookstore when I was in high school. It was the first Percy Keese Fitzhugh book I read, and the one I’ve reread the most. So it’s hard to tell whether I think it’s good because it is good, or if I think it’s good because I love it.

This is the second installment in the series, and it opens with the Bridgeboro troop gearing up to visit a new summer camp upstate. Because it was given to the Boy Scouts by their local millionaire, the scouts of Bridgeboro get to elect one of themselves to head to camp early and help out the camp director. Roy Blakeley gets everyone to vote for Tom, and when Tom is elected he says he’s going to hike to the camp instead of taking a train, and he invites Roy to go with. Both of them are really excited about the prospect, not only because it will be a cool trip, but because they really, really want to spend some time alone together. For what purpose? Probably just because they’re close friends and want to hang out, but, you know, my mind went places.

Enter Pee-wee Harris, small in stature and large in quantity of dumb jokes. There’s no reason he should go on the trip with them, but he really wants to, so much that they kind of have to bring him. Roy, in a super relatable move, pitches a minor fit about this. Tom…okay, look, I’m hesitant to use this kind of metaphor, but Tom’s honor is a knife blunted by constant use, and he cuts himself on it all the time.

They go up the river. They have some adventures. Pee-wee hangs out with an escaped convict. They find a mystery they won’t solve until book #3. Then they get to camp and Tom cuts himself on his honor again. Fitzhugh has a habit of splitting his books into halves, and the trip upriver and the rescue medal affair would each have their own book in most series.

Anyway: classic Tom Slade. If you like reading about awkward boys doing the right thing in the face of coldness and total misunderstanding and then topping their misunderstood heroics with more dramatic but also reasonably believable heroics, this book (and this series) is for you.

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