Wilder Boys: Saving Cody

Aladdin. (Wilder Boys: Bk. 3). Jan. 2023. 208p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781665916622.
Gr 4 Up–The third entry in Wallace’s “Wilder Boys” series further expands upon the survivalist-adjacent adventures of brothers Jake and Taylor Wilder as they seek to protect their beloved terrier, Cody, and connect with their elusive, eccentric grandmother in the California woodlands. In a plot turn reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz, Cody bites a local bully, and Jake and Taylor abscond with the canine from their Wyoming home to save him from euthanization. They hitchhike out of state with road-tripping teenagers and are quickly deposited deep in the wilderness with a stack of letters as clues to their grandmother’s well-hidden whereabouts. Though the book begins with a substantial chunk of clunky exposition summarizing the previous books, the wilder side of the Wilder journey herein is an implausible but delightful read. The boys set traps, start a fire, kill and cook a rabbit, and avoid a massive bear in the middle of the night, to name a few of their adventures. Finally, they face their grandmother’s rival, developers planning to destroy the land she fiercely defends, and the story culminates in a booby-trap filled denouement. Episodic and jaunty, this book is intense without pathos or obsessive detail, sparking excitement in even the most reluctant reader. The act of running away is taken lightly, which might concern some readers and parents. The Wilder family is coded as white, while minor characters of other racial backgrounds, especially their Native American friend Kim, help them in meaningful ways during their journey.
VERDICT A fun, fast-paced, crisp caper for wilderness lovers and curious homebodies alike.

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