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Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite
"Saltwater Taffy" by Eric Delabarre is one of the best children's books I've read in years! The story about the antics and the growth of five friends in the Pacific Northwest involves a search for the long-lost treasure of pirate Jean Lafitte. Pieces of a puzzle are gradually leaked and those that can decipher the codes have access to the treasure. The only problem is the gang of friends has an adversary in the name of Old Man Sheesley, a strange and lonely man who gives profound advice but appears bent on undermining the efforts of the gang so that he can claim the treasure for himself. Along the pathway to the buried treasure, the group of friends find themselves threatened by a bear, a cave disaster and a rival baseball team who considers the members of the gang a bunch of unskilled losers. As Scott, Zippy, Jaq, Gary and Jimmy seek to find a treasure which will make them rich and famous. They also discover friendship, loyalty and the importance of believing in oneself.
Delabarre has so many wonderful messages contained in the ongoing adventures in this book. It is delightful for the reader to be using his or her imagination to try to solve clues to a puzzle while, at the same time, learning about the important things in life. The children are all adorable, with each facing his or her own teenage demons in the form of doubts, anger and lack of self-esteem. No matter how old you are, this story will both touch your heart and provide a refresher course on the various messages of life's journey.