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    Review of TOM SWIFT AND HIS SKY RACER by Victor Appleton


    Grosset & Dunlap, 1911

    When the coordinators of a planned aircraft race invite young inventor Tom Swift to participate, he decides to do so--but realizes he'll have to design and build a new aircraft first. His existing plane was fast a couple of volumes ago, but technology has passed it by. Tom's plans disappear, however, and he is convinced that arch-enemy Andy Foger is responsible.

    Tom's father, Barton, is increasingly ill and unable to help Tom much. In fact, he suffers from memory loss and his doctors insist that he avoid work and stress. Still, he encourages Tom to continue with his design.

    Tom's evolving aircraft is attacked several times and Tom senses Andy Foger's hand behind the attacks. Still he has no proof. He fears, though, that he'll face a plane of his own design when the race finally occurs.

    An abrupt worsening in Barton's condition, together with a railroad bridge outing puts Tom's new plane to a test--can he bring the doctor in time to save his father? Later, the ever-present mechanical failure threatens Tom's chances at the race. Could he really lose face in front of the pretty Miss Mary Nestor.

    Author Victor Appleton continues the Tom Swift series with another look at the world of 1911. Tom seems able to whip up new aircraft, from blank paper to complete craft, in virtually no time. The one non-Anglo character in this story, Eradicate (Rad) Sampson, serves mostly as a butt of humor with Tom scaring him by taking him on a plane ride. Women seem to exist largely to worry about danger and as love interests. Clearly Tom would never think about inviting either housekeeper Mrs. Baggert or Mary Nestor on his adventures although the slender Mary might have been more useful than Wakefield Dammon as a passenger during the race.

    The Tom Swift series was written for young readers and some of the writing shows this clearly. Still, Appleton keeps the cliff-hangers coming, provides constant action, and has a sympathetic character in Tom Swift.

    See more reviews of novels by Victor Appleton.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 1/22/07

    What do you think? Too generous? Too stingy? Or did I miss the entire point? Send your comments to Give me the okay to use your name and I'll publish all the comments that fit (and don't use unprintable language).

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