Are you looking for books to capture the interest of your sons? Look no further. The Bayou Boys adventure trilogy for ages ten to sixteen has everything a guy could wish for: fun, suspense, girls, food, movie trivia and even a little bathroom humor. They also have what parents wish for: guys who love Jesus, who pray and who act with courage and moral backbone. These books are sheer fun adventure books to boot and not at all preachy. They have that Hardy Boys feel to them but only on the surface. Underneath there is a lot more, even some Cajun recipes - imagine - in books for boys!
I must admit, I would never have bought the Omnibus Collection of Bayou Boys, had I not met the author in person. He is the owner of a wonderful old-fashioned bookstore near our town, a bookstore in a beautiful old house with lots of nooks and crannies to browse in. How could the owner of such a store not write good books? What put me off were the titles and ghoulish covers: Voodoo Virus, Marsh Monster and Playhouse Phantom. I wouldn’t really mind the covers so much, had I not come to associate them with the deluge of trashy, occult teen literature that has overtaken our bookstores and libraries. After reading Bayou Boys, I found that the young sleuths actually expose zombies, monsters and a ghost as frauds.
It is refreshing to read about contemporary Christian kids with healthy minds having adventures in our contemporary world with their Christian faith implied as a matter of fact. It is even better to read about these kids being homeschooled, also in a matter of fact way. I recently read a book by a New York Times bestselling author portraying a homeschooled boy as totally removed from reality. But let’s not get into this...
A short summary of the Bayou Boys' plots: The protagonists are teens Peter Meyers, son of Police Chief Jim Meyers, and his friend Bart Davis, son of Game Warden Davis in Houma, Louisiana. In the first book of the trilogy, Voodoo Virus, the boys take their boat into the swamps in search of their friend Dezi, an old bayou hermit, who seems to have disappeared. The boys discover a plot of bio terrorism disguised as a zombie invasion. They escape from situations of grave danger with courage and ingenious ideas from their large repertoire of action movies strategies. After their success as detectives in the first adventure, their fathers trust them to “assist” with two more cases involving the supernatural. They expose the Honey Island marsh monsters as disguised treasure hunters and a New Orleans theater phantom as an engineered apparition designed to scare away new tenants from the historic Davis House mansion.
Like the Hardy Boys books, the Bayou Boys' plots are highly fabricated. What is the chance of a police chief father allowing his son to take the lead in not one but two extremely dangerous investigations after having been shot in the first adventure? I do not believe, Zschomler aimed at realism in his plots. They feel more like a tribute to youthful heroism, and to the Hardy Boys.
What is real in these stories is the characterization of the protagonists, Peter and Bart. These are guys’ books written by a guy, which does not mean that a female like this grandma cannot enjoy them. Peter and Bart feel real in the way they think and talk. The stories are told from Peter’s point of view. His ingenuity and courage are hyperbolic in the heroic tradition of Siegfried, King Arthur and Indiana Jones. Peter’s inner monologue as well as his dialog with his friend Bart sound like an ordinary high school boy talking himself into being a hero. And it works!
The dialogue is delivered spiked with movie references. Even in moments of high danger, Peter and Bart keep playing at “guess the movie quote”. Occasionally the quotes are from Scripture, Shakespeare, William Faulkner and other literary greats.
Peter’s faith shows either in moments of danger, when he prays for help, or in moments of temptation, when he recites pertinent scripture verses.
Apart from literary and movie quotes, the stories convey a good amount of educational material about Cajun culture, bayou habitat information and New Orleans history. Each book has a glossary of Cajun and other unfamiliar terms. There are recipes in the back for the dishes eaten in the stories. All this makes me think “unit study”!
Check out the author's study guide for Voodoo Virus.
In his essay “On Three Ways of Writing for Children”, C.S. Lewis talks about his description of a high tea hosted by the Faun Tumnus for the little girl Lucy in his book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Lewis writes: “…I myself like eating and drinking. I put in what I would have liked to read when I was a child and what I still like reading now that I am in my fifties.” Reading the Bayou Boys felt like Gregory Zschomler had done just that. The books are full of things he loves: Cajun food complete with recipes, movies, theater, the bayous, New Orleans and last not least Our Lord.
The Bayou Boys adventures are funny, suspenseful, wholesome guys’ books. They are devoid of all the sick stuff that runs through ninety-nine percent of modern teen fiction. Highly recommended.
Just for the record: These are Protestant books but I found nothing incompatible with the Catholic faith in them. I especially liked how Zschomler treats the subject of the occult and demons.
Did I mention that Tim Hawkins is mentioned? He is our very favorite Christian comedian, actually, our favorite comedian, period. Look him up on Youtube.
Gregory E. Zschomler has also written a young adult novel titled The Amish versus the Zombies.
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