Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Jan Fields
Illustrator: Scott Brundage
Gabe, his big brother, and two friends travel to Kentucky to film an internet piece on the Goat Man, a cryptid creature said to haunt a train trestle near a small town. Legend suggests that the Goat Man was in a circus train accident or perhaps is a mutant; but what these four find is a man who runs a Goat Man attraction for thrill seekers every the fall. His mother is a bit grumpy that she is not allowed to participate in the attraction but she has a lot of fun feeding the boys cookies while they interview her son. At the trestle, the boys meet a sherriff with a goatman story of his own. When they return to the trestle at dusk to film the final segment they chase a goatman into the brush, but Gabe knows what is really going on. Mom is dressing up in the goatman suit to prove that she can be scary. She earns her place in the attraction and the monster hunters discover something yet unexplained lurking at the bottom of their footage.
The boys are regular guys with a fun hobby that a lot of readers will happily relate to. Gabe is a good responsible kid whose friends have their quirks but are basically good guys too. They treat each other well and are respectful to the people that they meet—the kind of boys parents like their children to play with. The action and mystery move at a good pace to keep readers engaged and the mystery is such that most readers will get a boost from solving it before it is fully revealed. The illustrations and text are geared toward early but somewhat experienced chapter book readers with a look and feel that is appropriate for an intermediate reader. The text is larger and the space around the text is generous for easy letter identification and reading. This is a good solid read. There isn't much character development or growth experienced by the characters, but they are people that are easy to relate to. The plot is simple and the theme is even simpler: finding monsters.