Detours and Designs


Children - Grade 4th-6th
262 Pages
Reviewed on 04/13/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Detours and Designs is co-authored by Matt Fazio and Josh Malacki, who met while attending Robert Morris University. Their friendship began with a couple commonalities: a love of baseball and a knack for putting off coursework until the last minute. After college, they decided to write together. They began with a simple idea: write about a kid with real-life problems that anyone could relate to. Several years, countless phone calls, and hundreds of iterations later, they had a book!

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite

“The world would be in trouble if it needed to be saved by an 11-year-old kid.” That is what eleven-year-old Drew Daley thinks, but he is about to be tested more than he ever could have imagined. Lured by a mysterious drawing tucked into his science book, Drew finds himself going in a direction he never dreamed possible. While he has to meet the demands of fifth grade, he feels compelled to uncover the identity of the artist, because the drawing seems to inspire in him something that calls him beyond his petty world. But how does he locate the artist when the only clues he gets are names inside the front cover of his book? In Detours and Designs, authors Matt Fazio and Josh Malacki create a story that brings to life the inquisitiveness of a young mind, the courage of innocence, and an adventure that will delight young readers.

The story is beautiful and the character of Drew is handled with skill and intelligence. The reader will immediately notice Drew’s curiosity from the very beginning of the story. There is a certain naivety about him which makes him think that life is easy, but his journey in the search of the artist and the looming threat to the world as he once knew it will awaken in him the desire to test things, to sift information in order to distinguish truth from falsehood. The characters are very believable and real, and it's easy to like Drew. Detours and Designs is a title that suggests a complex story and the plot happens to be filled with twists and detours readers won’t see coming. Matt Fazio and Josh Malacki have written a book that young readers will adore, with writing that is atmospheric and an enticing narrative voice.

Jack Magnus

Detours and Designs is a coming of age novel for preteens and young adults written by Matt Fazio and Josh Malacki. Drew Daley had a lot going on in his mind; something that frequently drew the ire of his teachers and was a source of much amusement for his classmates. He just couldn’t help it. The fifth-grader had an active imagination and a strong drive to find answers to the puzzles he found irresistible. Currently, his mind was wrestling with his science textbook -- not the book itself, but a finely drawn sketch of the beach that someone had doodled on the book. That picture had the power to instantly transport him to those sandy shores, complete with the sun’s golden warmth and the crashing din of the waves. His ever-investigative mind began to study the names of the kids who had used the book before him. One of them, he mused, would have to be the mysterious artist. He knew he had to solve this mystery, and he was absolutely certain that he would.

Matt Fazio and Josh Malacki’s coming of age novel for preteens and young adults, Detours and Designs, is an exceptionally well-written novel about the passage from childhood and its certainties into the uncertain and often perilous terrain of becoming a young adult. I loved the adventures Drew and his friends go on at every possible opportunity, and had a grand time following them as they seek the legendary tree house. I also wondered how Drew would fare as he and some of his friends seemed to be growing in different directions. Drew comes through in awesome and thoughtful fashion just about every time, and it’s quite marvelous to see him coming of age. I’d be delighted to see a sequel to this story. Detours and Designs is most highly recommended.

Stephen Fisher

Detours and Designs by Matt Fazio and Josh Malacki is a flawlessly written story about Drew Daley. Drew is an eleven-year-old fifth grader at Emerson Elementary School. The school doesn't have school buses, and Drew and his close friends, Tommy and Jeff, finally get to walk to and from school. Mr. Sawyer, their Social Studies teacher, wants them to give a presentation about a person that they greatly admire; a role model that really inspires them. Someone other than a parent or relative. While most of the kids choose sports heroes, Drew decides to tell about a mysterious jogger who sees a beautiful hanging flower planter that has fallen due to a high wind and he stops and fixes it, for no other reason than to do a good deed. Then Drew gets his science book and sees that he is the sixth owner of the book. When he finds a drawn picture of the ocean bottom, he falls in love with the picture and makes it his mission to find out who the artist is from amongst the five previous owners.

The team of Fazio and Malacki do an outstanding job of creating the background of this quaint small town in Pennsylvania. The diverse personalities created by the authors are real and believable. They are able to capture all of the emotions and peer pressure that preteens go through on a daily basis - their video games, getting their first cell phone, or just hanging out at the local store. When Drew sees the first person listed in his book at lunch, he walks up and introduces himself to the most popular girl in the sixth grade, who denies drawing the picture but remembers the drawing well. His friends cannot believe his bravery.

Detours and Designs moved along at a great pace, with never a dull moment. But in everything that Drew goes through, he is most conscious of his choices, and always wants to do the right thing. This story was so well written that it was tough to put down. Everything was so vividly described that I felt like I was right there beside Drew and his friends, who don't always make the right decisions. They learn many tough lessons about the consequences of telling lies, cheating, and errors in judgement. By the story's end, I was totally engrossed. Hook, line, and sinker. What a great adventure! Bravo!