Friday, September 20, 2013

The Secret Hide-Out by John Peterson



All but forgotten now except by the baby boomers that first read it, John Peterson’s The Secret Hide-Out is from that era when kids still used their imaginations, and their toys could be a simple as a cut-out paper bag and a broom handle decorated with colored cloth. A juvenile from the Scholastic Book Club, I purchased this one in the third grade. I recall that most of the boys in the neighborhood owned this book as well, and so its contents had an influence on us all during the summer of 1965. It quickly became an object of nostalgia as we transitioned into an adult oriented world that included James Bond and The Man from UNCLE. Peterson wrote the text and created the illustrations. Matt and his brother Sam are snooping around in grandma’s cellar one day and discover an old book hidden behind a loose brick. The book is a journal titled “The Viking Club 1938.” The journal documents a series of tests for the boys to undertake in order to become a Viking Club Senior Member. Membership designations include Golden Tiger, Red Feather, and Screaming Eagle. The tests for membership are diagramed and Matt and Sam decide to re-create the tests which include a backyard obstacle course. Recruiting their pal Beanie, they set up an obstacle course that includes jumping over a rope strung between trees, racing over an old tire and zig-zagging around some milk bottles. The ultimate test is sleeping out in the backyard and attacking the night monster that lurks in the bushes. The monster is actually the bushes and trees themselves, made spooky looking by the night. The book includes diagrams and instructions for making Viking Club member shields, spears and paper whistles. The Secret Hide-Out is harmless fun for young kids. This book remained in print until the early 1970s, and I understand there was even a sequel called Enemies of the Secret Hide-Out, but I never read that one.

2 comments:

  1. One of the coolest books I remember as a youth. I still have both copies. We did everything in the book including camping out and at midnight going to cemetery to take a blood oath.

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    Replies
    1. Hello Mike, and thank you for checking in.
      I have many more titles from Scholastic from this era that I'll be reviewing in the future.

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