Twelve-year-old Doug lives with his parents, dad Dave, a community college professor, and mom Betty, in rural southeast Pennsylvania outside of Pottstown. One day, while mowing lawn for a neighbor Mr. Clemmens who has recently had surgery, he finds an old CJ, a civilian version of the Jeep army vehicle dating from around 1960, in Mr. Clemmens's barn. With the help of Gramps, who lives next door and was an army mechanic, Doug works for another neighbor, Farmer Schantz, to earn the money to buy it. Together, they get it operational, and Doug learns to drive it.
After receiving permission from the neighbors to drive through their fields and planning a route which avoids roads, on which he legally cannot drive since he is only twelve, Doug sets out on a long excursion to a local country store. A snowplow is also purchased and installed, and Gramps shows him how to clear driveways. Later, one stormy winter night, while Dad is away at a conference and Gramps and Granma are gone to their cabin, Doug and his mom get a call from a stranded neighbor, Jill Green, who is about to have a baby but has no way to get to the hospital since her husband has been at work and is having trouble getting home. Is there anything that Doug and the old CJ can do to help?
What young lad wouldn't like an adventure such as this! Doug is an industrious boy who knows what he wants and is willing to work hard to obtain it. Some of the sections about the workings of the Jeep and repairing them were way over my non-mechanical head, but anyone who enjoys tinkering with old vehicles will appreciate the material. The story illustrates some valuable life lessons and points out the importance of an education. Doug is even able to use some of the math that he learns in school to help him with the Jeep. There are a few common euphemisms (heck, darn, gosh), but nothing really objectionable. It is mentioned that Doug and his family attend church. Author Bill Nelson, who has worked as a teacher and a counselor and is currently employed at a library, believes that the purpose of life is to do constructive activities, and this book exemplifies this principle.show more
by Wayne S. Walker