In Bravo Zulu, Samantha byKathleen Benner Duble twelve-year-old Samantha’s summer vacation is off to a bumpy start; she is spending a month visiting her grandparents while her parents are out of town. Not only is she forced to spend time with her grandfather, a cantankerous newly retired Air Force Colonel, but also strangely befriended by her next-door neighbor and nemesis Billy. After several days observing his mysterious and furtive behavior, Sam concludes he is hiding something. Determined to uncover his secret, Sam and Billy follow the Colonel and learn he is building an experimental aircraft to enter in an aeronautical competition. Convinced to let them help, a simple matter of blackmail and threatening to tell of the project, Sam, Billy, and the Colonel band together forming an odd, ragtag team completely devoted to their goal. Sam's quirky love of facts and her grandfather's gruff manner oddly mirror and compliment each other throughout the novel as they reach common ground. Throughout the book Sam's voice and attitude are wonderfully reflective of a pre-teen girl dealing with authority figures and her first "boyfriend." While the end is somewhat manufactured, Sam and Billy work together to save the day, a few deft twists keep it from being trite. This is a nice summer read.
An author's note details information about the Experimental Aircraft Convention and resources for facts spurted by Sam and the Colonel throughout the book are provided. Bravo Zulu, aka "well done," to Duble's interest in flying and her avoidance of the stereotypical boys and airplanes connection; it was nice to see the main character with an interest in aviation be a girl.
Tags: Kathleen Benner Duble, Bravo Zulu, Samantha, Juvenile fiction