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Kid Konnection: The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin

September 11, 2010

Sixteen year old Will Halpin is deaf and has always attended a school for the deaf in the past.  He’s had enough of the drama there, so he decides to be mainstreamed at Carbon High School.  He quickly discovers that things won’t be all that much easier there.   Devon Smiley reaches out to Will, but Will’s not so sure he wants to be friends with him.  After all, Devon is nerdy and Will wants to be accepted by the cool crowd.

In history class, Will learns that a deaf coal miner, Will “Dummy” Halpin died in a mining accident in 1901.  Will is shocked and can’t help but think this must be an ancestor of his and wonder why he’s never heard of him.  Will wants to learn more about “Dummy,” so he’s happy when he finds out that his class will visit the mine where the accident occurred.  Tragedy strikes on the field trip, though, when one of the cool kids in the class is murdered.

Will and Devon make it their mission to solve the murder case, just like the Hardy Boys would.

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk is a delightful YA novel.  I think it’s the first time I’ve read a book that is told from the point of view of a deaf teenager.  Reading from Will’s point of view made me gain some understanding of the challenges the hearing impaired face in our society.  Will never let that get him down, though – he’s a wonderful character, full of determination and humor.  I thought he was great and I loved the way he grew in the story.

Devon is a great character too.  He’s just a little bit different, so he’s generally on the outside looking in, but his sincerity and great attitude help Will realize what’s important in a friendship.

The mystery added a fun aspect to the novel and I thought the way Will and Devon pooled their resources and used their strengths was great.   I think Hardy Boys fans will love all the references to that series.  I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to older YA readers and up.  I hope Hamburger Halpin will become a series!

For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week,  leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Challenges: Lititz Kid-Lit Challenge

This book was sent to me by my good friend Booking Mama.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
16 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2010 7:44 am

    Sounds like a good gift idea for a few nieces and nephews!

  2. September 11, 2010 8:31 am

    I recently read this one too and absolutely loved it!! Great review. Guess who I get to have dinner with tonight????

  3. September 11, 2010 9:11 am

    I loved this book! This is one of the books I recommend all over the place.

  4. September 11, 2010 9:42 am

    This sounds great. I love when characters with disabilities are featured as protagonists.

  5. September 11, 2010 10:09 am

    See now I was really surprised when you recommended it for older YA. After reading the summary, I was going to ask if this was YA or more middle-gradeish. Intriguing…off to SwapTree.

  6. September 11, 2010 1:03 pm

    Never heard of this one. I like reading about characters with some sort of disability. I just finished reading Helen Keller’s memoir which was amazing. Will keep this one in mind for my son when he’s a tad older.

  7. September 11, 2010 1:48 pm

    I love the premise of this story – the idea that kids with disabilities plus the nerds can also have exciting adventures. I wish there were more like this. Thanks for the recommendation.

  8. September 11, 2010 2:43 pm

    This is on my TBR list, so I’m glad to hear it was a great read. Now it makes me want to find other books that feature deaf main characters.

  9. September 11, 2010 3:31 pm

    I always loved The Hardy Boys and like that the author created a unique main character.

  10. September 11, 2010 6:44 pm

    Unusual title with some interesting sounding characters. I hadn’t heard of it previously so thanks for the introduction.

  11. September 12, 2010 7:36 am

    Mention the Hardy Boys and I’m in! Loved Nancy Drew in the same breath… sneaky author … being the writer of both 🙂

  12. September 12, 2010 7:41 pm

    I bet my daughter would love this book. She is taking a real interest in the deaf culture at her high school and trying to learn sign language. I think it’s pretty cool that this book is told from the POV of a deaf character and will have to point her towards this. Wonderful review!

  13. September 12, 2010 8:49 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed this book! When I reviewed it soon after it first came out, the author and I interviewed each other on my blog. He is sooo funny. Being deaf myself, I feel that he did a good job of accurately portraying a deaf person — and with good humor, too!

  14. stacybuckeye permalink
    September 12, 2010 10:48 pm

    It’s nice that it features a main character with a handicap. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a story from the perspective of a deaf main character.

  15. givingreadingachance permalink
    September 13, 2010 1:00 am

    Wow, I really like this one and I want to read it. I like kids solving mystery all detective style!

  16. September 14, 2010 5:08 pm

    Sounds wonderful! I loved the Hardy Boys when I was younger.

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