Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book


Rate this book
Dewey Marriss is stuck in the middle of a crunch. He never guessed that the gas pumps would run dry the same week he promised to manage the family's bicycle-repair business. Suddenly everyone needs a bike. And nobody wants to wait. Meanwhile, the crunch has stranded Dewey's parents far up north with an empty fuel tank and no way home. It's up to Dewey and his older sister, Lil, to look after their younger siblings and run the bike shop all on their own. Each day Dewey and his siblings feel their parents' absence more and more. The Marriss Bike Barn is busier than ever. And just when he is starting to feel crunched himself, Dewey discovers that bike parts are missing from the shop. He's sure he knows who's responsible—or does he? Will exposing the thief only make more trouble for Dewey and his siblings? Award-winning author Leslie Connor has created another timely family story infused with humor and hope.

330 pages, Library Binding

First published January 1, 2010

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Leslie Connor

12 books409 followers
From the author's website:

My life began suddenly (you can even ask my mother) in an antique farmhouse outside of Cleveland, Ohio. I was born right on the family room floor ~ no time to get to the hospital! I swear, I’ve been in a hurry ever since.

When I was in fourth grade we moved to a neighborhood full of kids outside of Schenectady, New York. My Dad worked for a company that sold some of the finest printing papers in all the land. He often brought home big, beautiful, heavy books that pinned me to my chair when I held them in my lap, and I loved to turn the pages, look at the photography and illustrations and smell the ink.

As a kid I took dancing lessons and did gymnastics. I could be found upside-down in odd places like the middle of the stairway, not that I recommend it! My bedroom was a messy nest full of paint sets and paper scraps, embroidery threads and sewing projects. In school I was good at some things and not at all good at others. Still, I found my passions. I went to college, first at SUNY, Cobleskill, where I received an associate’s degree in agriculture, and later at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Ct. where I earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art.

At first, I was interested in children’s books from an illustrator’s point of view. But the writing part surprised me ~ came up from behind and tapped me on the shoulder. I realized that my head and heart were very full of stories and that I should pay attention! My ideas come from everyday life, and I write for readers of all ages.

I live in the Connecticut woods with my husband and three children. (Well, the kids are getting big and they all drive cars now so they come and go a lot these days.) We keep our bird feeders full, do a little gardening and stack a lot of firewood. I hike the trails near my home almost every morning. Then I make a pot of tea and get to work. Usually, my loyal Writing Dogs are right by my side. (Sometimes I even borrow dogs from my neighbors. You can’t have enough dogs.)

I love making artisan pizzas and pots of soup and my favorite treat is dark chocolate. I also love to ride my bike down to the diner to meet my friends for breakfast and more tea. (Hmm...that’s a lot of eating, isn’t it?)

Life is fine!

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
739 (32%)
4 stars
834 (36%)
3 stars
497 (21%)
2 stars
125 (5%)
1 star
68 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 339 reviews
Profile Image for Betsy.
Author 8 books2,836 followers
November 30, 2010
Leslie Connor forgive me; I sometimes forget how awesome you are. It's nice to rely on an author. To know that you can trust them to write book after book that isn't crap. That's true on the adult side of things, but I feel it's particularly important to remind folks of this on the children's literary side as well. When a parent or a teacher or a librarian discovers a writer that fills a gap in their collection and fills it well, they're allowed to go a little nuts. I went a little nuts when I realized the sheer awesomeness of Leslie Connor for the first time. I had loved her picture book Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel. Sure. Of course I did. I'm human. I'd missed her YA novel Dead on Town Line (which, I'm now thinking I'd kind of like to read). But it was her middle grade book Waiting for Normal that convinced me of her brilliance. Waiting for Normal. A book that by all rights, due to its premise and its title, I should have hated on sight, and yet I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Now Connor has settled a little more thoroughly into the middle grade range and once more she tries her hand at something new. Every fiber in my being makes me want to sell this to you as a post-apocalyptic hellscape world without oil with a family tale right out of The Penderwicks. That's not entirely accurate but if it gets you reading this book, fantastic. Whatever works, man. Whatever works.

It doesn't get much worse than this. You see every year Dewey's parents go on a kind of pseudo-honeymoon to New England (his dad's a trucker) leaving their sons Dewey and Vince and Angus and Eva (the five-year-old twins), with their eldest teen daughter Lil. Only this year, there was a snag. Due to forces beyond their control, the country is out of oil. No oil. Zip, zero, zilch. And as it happens, Dewey and his family happen to run the local bike repair shop. Now that all their neighbors are bike-bound, they're getting some serious business. Dewey is dedicated to keeping the shop going, but that's before he discovers there's a thief stealing from it. Who's the culprit? Is is someone they know? Worse still, the crises doesn't look like it's going to end anytime soon, mom and dad are halfway across the country, and the family is growing tense. Something, it's clear, has gotta give.

We don't get as many realistic worst-case scenario books for kids as you might think. Back in the 70s, when there was an actual oil shortage, you couldn't throw a dart in a children's library without hitting about ten different futuristic In-a-World-Without-Oil novels for kids and teens. These days, dystopias are far grander. They're all pseudo-perfect societies or violent reality-show offspring. Books that actually deal about the nitty gritty details of things like running out of a basic necessity (like energy) don't often happen unless the moon gets hit by a big old asteroid (Life As We Knew It, etc.) or something. There's something strangely uplifting in Connor's world. The end of the world may seemingly be at hand, but humanity has taken it on the chin and simply adapted to a bike-based economy. There's a comfort in the law and order you find here. Yes, there's some low-level theft and some distant violence, but compared to the family dynamics and friendly neighbors (not to mention the deliciously described food) a child reading this book is going to come away from it with the understanding that as long as families stick together, even horrible situations can be overcome.

To know the work of Leslie Connor is to know how well she writes for the 9-12 crowd. She's amazing at it. She just gets people. Take for example this moment in the book when a guy the family has been helping appears on a Sunday to help them work and mentions how they never take any time off. Dewey's brother Vince enters carrying milk buckets. " `Our work is our play,' said Vince, with a raging lack of enthusiasm. He walked by me, no hands free, and stole a bit of the bagel I was holding." There are people who would give their right hands to write little family moments like that. I should know. I'm one of them. She's dead on with description too, mentioning things like, "My face ached in that about-to-start-crying sort of way." Ain't a man, woman, or child alive who doesn't know something about that.

I also love that this is an eco-friendly book in the best sense of the term. Which is to say, it doesn't take a gigantic message and bash you repeatedly over the head with it. In 2009 that book was Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French (a book that would pair very well with this one). This year it's Crunch. I love that the story makes it clear that the crises here is due to politics. "Not geology". That's hugely plausible. It also means that the ending (where the oil is restored) is believable. Otherwise you'd have to end it with somebody discovering a new source of oil in the Gulf or something, and nobody really wants to go that route.

Kids these days (imagine me saying this with my old-time granny voice) with their ballet class and their soccer practice and their math club and all that stuff . . . why, they don't have time to be kids anymore, do they? I think this as I read this book and read about Dewey's dilemma. Dewey is sort of a one-of-a-kind hero in this tale because he willingly forces himself to work and work and overwork of his own volition. He's about killing himself in the bike shop, much like those kids who get overbooked with after school activities. I think there's more than one child out there who won't just see things from Dewey's point of view but will actively identify with his dilemma. They may even root for him to continue, even as his family and friends urge him to let go a little.

When I was a kid I was shown an episode of that old PBS show Signal where the scary British narrator imagined a world in which we lost all our power and had to return to the plow. I spent weeks imagining how I would get my family out to a friendly farm, where we could start our new lives together. Crunch follows similar ground, but won't inspire the nightmares I suffered as a too-imaginative kiddo. This is going to sound bad, but Connor is one of the very few hope-infused middle grade authors I can stand to read. I think that's because I believe in every word she writes. At this point, she's poised to catch on big with the kids, but you have to get them to discover her first. I found that my children's bookgroup went nuts for Waiting for Normal when they read it for themselves. I can't wait to lob Crunch at their noggins next. A book you shouldn't miss.

For ages 9-12.
Profile Image for Corinne Edwards.
1,459 reviews216 followers
January 24, 2016
What if gasoline ran out? I mean RAN OUT? As in, you are stuck where ever your last tank took you? This is what happened to Dew's parents, and suddenly he and his siblings are on their own for the foreseeable future in a world where cars can no longer take you where you need to go.

Luckily, they are a resourceful bunch - and Dew and his brother happen to have a knack for fixing bikes. In a world where cars are useless, bikes very quickly become a hot commodity. Between keeping the house running with his older sister and staying on top of a bike repair business that begins to boom, Dew stays plenty busy as they wait for their parents to somehow make their way back home.

This was a smart story that I really enjoyed. Dew is a hard working but imperfect character who learns a lot through the course of the summer. I loved the incredibly probable future and how people have to handle the complete upheaval that can result when just one small resource runs dry. While it is absolutely a feel good story, there are some tense moments and Dew has to deal with some frustration. I fell for the whole thing, a great read.
Profile Image for Beverly.
533 reviews33 followers
March 3, 2011
I truly enjoyed this book. Connor has created a very love-able character in Dewey. Dewey's not perfect but he's hard working and learns from his mistakes. The characters in Crunch are quirky and humorous providing for a fun read about a serious situation. I doubt that people in real life would adapt to gas pumps running dry as well as the characters in this book. However, one can hope.

I have to admit that I did find Dewey's older sister Lil, to be rather bossy and somewhat annoying. Poor Dewey was doing all the work, while she spent her days working on her art (not that art isn't serious). While Dewey did make mistakes and perhaps got in over his head, he did remarkably well for a 14 year old child. Meanwhile, Lil was content to let Dewey shoulder all the work. If if she was going to act in the place of their parents, she could have done so with a little more consistency and not just when it suited her.

All in all I found this to be a feel good read that dealt with a serious situation in a humorous way. It was a quick read and I didn't want to stop once I started.

Recommended for 5th Grade and up.

Mrs. Archer's rating: 4 1/2 of 5.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
9,818 reviews418 followers
January 14, 2020
Why isn't this tagged more often as SF? It's totally What If we actually ran out of gasoline & diesel, to the point at which adults are separated from their minor children? My Sense of Wonder is piqued. I wish it were bedtime so I could curl up and finish this, instead of still doing evening chores....

Finished. Good book. Not perfect, because a little too optimistic even for a kids' book, but good enough that I'll consider more by the author.

Main takeaways: learn more skills, and learn to get along with neighbors and other members of your community. The real world matters.
Profile Image for Richie Partington.
1,104 reviews129 followers
July 23, 2013
25 January 2010 CRUNCH by Leslie Connor, HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books, Earth Day, 2010, 336p., ISBN: 978-0-06-169229-1

"Change it had to come
We knew it all along"
-- The Who, "Won't Get Fooled Again"

"The cost of making provision for rapid transit would, in 1955, be minimal in terms of the expressway's over-all cost: acquiring 240 feet of land instead of 200 feet and building heavier foundations would cost, for the whole eighty-five-mile length of the expressway, perhaps an extra $20,000,000. The expressway was going to cost $500,000,000 anyway. For $20,000,000 more -- for an increase in the cost of only 4 percent -- you could take the step that would insure that the expressway would one day be able to fulfill the function for which it was being built."
-- Robert A. Caro from his Pulitzer Prize winning THE POWER BROKER: ROBERT MOSES AND THE FALL OF NEW YORK (Knopf, 1974)

Caro was writing about the Long Island Expressway. I recall it being somewhere around 1960 when, on a Saturday afternoon, my father drove me up South Oyster Bay Road to take a look. We were living in nearby Plainview at the time, and work on the Expressway had just reached that point on its trek eastward. All of the giant machines were parked below on the yet-to-be-paved roadway for the weekend. It was quite an impressive sight, to the degree that I can well recall that experience so vividly a half-century later.

I was born the same year as the LIE, which came to be known as the World's Longest Parking Lot. Robert Moses had had his way: The land necessary for eventually providing rapid transit along the LIE was deliberately not acquired. In THE POWER BROKER, Caro notes how many communities in Brooklyn and Queens had developed in relationship to their proximity to subway stations. People could choose to live where they were able to walk to and from the subway on workdays, and real downtown areas developed. As Caro proposed, the development of suburban Long Island would have evolved entirely differently if rapid transit stations had been built along those eighty-five miles of the Long Island Expressway.

And we can only imagine, if rapid transit had been built into the LIE, how much petroleum would have been saved over these fifty-five years that me and the LIE have now been around.

"...Try telling a pair of five-year-olds that you don't know when their mommy and daddy are coming home.
"'I-I just really wanted them to come home now,' Angus said. He blinked back tears.
"'W-well, how many days?' Eva wanted to know. She was trying hard to suck it up too.
"Lil squatted down, arms wide. 'Okay, come here,' she said. She gathered them in. 'I know you miss them. But you have Vince and Dew and me. We're going to keep on taking good care of you. And when there is enough fuel again, Mom and Dad will come straight home to us. This is just some bad luck. Nobody could have known.'
"But part of me was thinking that we should have known. Or somebody should have."

In Leslie Connor's fun and provocative new book CRUNCH, there isn't a fuel shortage going on. There is no more fuel, period. The five Marriss kids are home alone. Dad is a trucker and Mom is with him because it is their annual work/pleasure on the road anniversary celebration. Now Mom and Dad are out of diesel and stuck up in Canada because gasoline and diesel fuel have run out. Everywhere.

It being summer, fourteen-year-old Dewey, from whose point of view the story is told, has already been busy at home, working with brother Vince at the family bicycle repair business -- the side business his dad had started -- while the parents are gone. To characterize the bicycle repair business as suddenly booming now -- now that there is no more fuel -- is an understatement. In fact, it is becoming Dewey's life and obsession.

The highway is free of motor vehicles. Walkers are over to the right using the slow lane and the fastest bicyclists are utilizing the left hand passing lane.

"No anchovies? You've got the wrong man. I spell my name..."
-- from The Further Adventures of Nick Danger

No fuel also means no trucking of food or other goods, which means that buying local is going to quickly become a way of life.

How bad and how quickly might this spiral out of control? Dewey goes shopping with big sister Lil while Vince guards the bicycles outside:

"She stood staring at the shelves, then at other people's carts. The look on her face was suddenly strange. 'I think we should skip the list and just get what we can get,' she said. 'And a lot of it.'
"'What do you mean?'
"'Let's just get to it,' she said. She leaned toward me and spoke quietly. 'Start picking things that we can store for a while. Like that cheddar. That was a good one, Dew.'
"Now I was kind of creeped out. This grocery run felt like a preemptive strike."

Imagine what all of this would be like in reality. Think about where you live and what it would be like if you could suddenly only travel by foot or bicycle.

Or imagine what it would be like if we have more warning than they have gotten in this rapidly intensifying story. Consider how you might utilize your motor vehicles differently if supply concerns were to cause gasoline to rise to $6 per gallon, $10 per gallon, $15 per gallon, or $20 per gallon.

Impossible, you say? Look at the rising price of gold, and think about how many more people would be involved in bidding up the price of gasoline than the price of gold. If you could lock in, say, a thousand gallons of gasoline at near today's prices, knowing that it would double in price over the next six months, wouldn't you go to some lengths to do so yourself? (Which, of course, creates a self-fulfilling prophesy.) What else might you do if you were faced with walking or bicycling from this point forward?

If you add in the cost of the fuel consumed at even $10 per gallon, how much will it really be costing you for that espresso or that pint of ice cream that you impulsively decide that you cannot do without and hop into the car for? How about the cost of driving to the City for the day because you cannot be bothered with the inconvenience of sitting on the bus for all those hours of stops and then having to transfer to city buses to get to you destinations?

Might it be a good idea for us to begin changing our behaviors now, rather than waiting for The Crunch to hit?

"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
till it's gone."

It IS a pain in the neck to take the bus. I only do it some of the times that I go down to San Franciso or Oakland or San Jose. (It doesn't help that a decade ago Golden Gate Transit eliminated the commute route that passed within a mile of my farm.) But if the alternatives were walking or bicycling sixty or more miles...

Reading CRUNCH, as we head for the fortieth anniversary of the first Earth Day, I've feeling like a failure. My behavior, my modeling, and my advocacy have been so inconsistent. I knew in the Seventies what was coming. My good intentions have been there, but the follow-through hasn't been. At least not enough to match the urgency of the problem. I have never really treated it like the life and death situation that it will be for many.

It could all come to pass sooner rather than later. Doing a quick check online, I've just found a CNN article from 2003 discussing how some Swedish scientists were saying that petroleum producing nations have wildly inflated estimates of their reserves, that petroleum production will peak in 2010 (instead of 2050 as had once been predicted), and that prices will thereafter begin to rise astronomically.

But irregardless of the exact timing, the change it has to come. We've known it all along. And after the past forty years I also know that government is not going to magically make it happen. We need to do it ourselves. And so, I will begin my morning with one little step and one promise for the day: I'll make a list of everything else I need to get done in town (where I'm heading for a dental check-up this morning), and promise myself that I'll not go running back to town again until I have another full list of errands to accomplish.

One step at a time...
Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_... http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/people/facult...
Profile Image for LauraW.
754 reviews19 followers
February 9, 2020
This is a good book, with an interesting premise: the gas shortage has turned into a complete unavailability of gasoline. So bicycles are now the chief mode of transportation and the bike repair business is booming. But the parents are stuck away from home, so the kids have to manage on their own - with the help of the community.

I am always struck by the ways especially American authors seem to find ways to get rid of the parents so that the kids have agency on their own. I would have bet that this was an American book, even before I looked it up and found out that I am right. Many of the Australian kids' books keep the parents in the books. In the Australian books, the kids are allowed to try to solve their problems as much as possible themselves, with the parents there for backup if needed. In the American books, most of the time, the kids are left to solve the problems on their own, often with help from others in the community, but not usually the parents. I am not sure what that says about the two mindsets. It makes me feel that the Australian kids are trusted to venture out on their own, as they are able. The American kids aren't necessarily trusted to do so - they are thrust into the necessity to do so by various circumstances. Americans seem to expect that the kids will make it through the problems largely on their own, because they have to. Aussie kids are allowed to make it on their own, but support is there and given, if it is needed.
Profile Image for Becky.
404 reviews13 followers
June 26, 2017
I enjoyed so many things about this book - the whole idea of gas running out and everyone having to walk or bike really intrigued me. What would we do in "the crunch"? I thoroughly enjoyed the characters as well. Dewey Marriss is a young teen trying to run a bike shop while his mom and dad are stuck and can not get home because there is no gasoline. Dewey is clever and innovative - he is a true problem solver! I loved his spirit and his attitude - I think our young readers will enjoy this book. It has enough action to keep the reader moving and draws you in fast.
Profile Image for Jo.
1,139 reviews60 followers
July 19, 2019
I'm not much of a middle grade reader, but I saw the author at a conference and wanted to try one of her books. This was extremely engaging. I loved the solution - it wasn't too convenient or obvious.
Profile Image for Jess.
2,477 reviews69 followers
September 6, 2010
While the fuel shortage premise might make this sound like a story that grapples with political and environmental issues, all of that takes a back seat to the story of how one family of kids manages on their own for a summer. With their parents stuck out of town without a way to get home, the kids have to decide how much responsibility to shoulder and how much they should "be the parents" (as Dewey and Lil say to each other). Throw in a little bit of a mystery, a cranky next-door neighbor, and a lot of bikes, and this turns into a great story.

Dewey narrates the story, and he's the kind of narrator who pulls you in close and lets you feel all the tension and the weight of running the bike repair shop. The younger kids add some comic relief and Lil, the oldest, alternates between being the responsible one and spending her days creating a barn-sized mural. Strangely, she's the only one of the older three who ends up having much time to call her own, and I started to wonder why Dewey didn't resent that more. On the other hand, Dewey is stuck in the repair shop because that's his choice - he doesn't want to turn anyone away. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how the kids would solve their problems, with a little help from the community and some creative thinking. It also really made me want to go for a bike ride, so watch out.

I'd peg this as a great middle school read, based on the age of the characters and the way they deal with responsibilities, but there's nothing here that would be inappropriate for a strong younger (unless you count the occasional "hell").
Profile Image for Nina.
570 reviews51 followers
June 3, 2016

Saya senang sekali akhir-akhir ini banyak buku anak-anak/middle grade bagus yang saya baca. Crunch ini salah satunya.

Crunch bercerita tentang anak-anak Marriss yang berusaha mandiri dan mengelola bengkel sepeda keluarga selama orang tua mereka stuck di suatu tempat karena bahan bakar habis dimana-mana.

Enak kali ya kalau semua orang bepergian kemana-mana pakai sepeda onthel karena bahan bakar tidak tersedia dimana pun. Saya excited membayangkan di jalan-jalan enggak ada lagi suara hingar bingar knalpot yang disetel memekakkan telinga dan orang-orang jadi lebih banyak bergerak karena mengayuh pedal atau jalan kaki. Di luar negeri sih biasa, tapi tidak dengan di sini.

Saya suka dengan interaksi keluarga Marriss yang harmonis. Lima bersaudara ini meski kadang bertengkar tapi kompak. Mereka bisa diandalkan, terutama Dewey si tokoh utama. Dia termasuk dewasa menurut saya. Masih remaja tapi semangat mengelola bengkel sepeda keluarga. Nah, karena semua orang bepergian pakai sepeda onthel, tentunya bengkel mereka jadi laris pelanggan. Tapi si Dewey ini tidak bisa bilang tidak, makanya sepeda yang harus diperbaiki sampai menggunung di bengkelnya sedangkan tenaga teknisinya Cuma dia, adik cowoknya yang phobia orang dan Robert, pemuda lulusan universitas yang magang di bengkel Dewey.

Sempat terjadi pencurian di bengkel Marriss. Karena akhir-akhir ini saya terlalu banyak baca novelnya Agatha Christie, saya jadi curiga sama si itu dan mikirnya jelek haha. Untung ternyata saya salah.
Profile Image for Jamie.
332 reviews
May 27, 2010
I probably would have given this a 3.5 if that were an option. The basic plot of this book is that the five kids in the Marriss family (ranging in age from 5 to 18) are left home while their parents are away for an anniversary/work trip (their dad is a truck driver and their mom goes with him for a week-long trip). While their parents are gone, the gasoline supply becomes non-existent keeping the parents away from home even longer. Bikes become the main source of transportation for the family as well as for at least the rest of the surrounding area. The Marriss family owns a very small bike shop, and business starts to boom. As the summer goes on, more and more bikes are being brought to the shop, parts slowly start to disappear (in more than one way), tensions rise, and the family must figure out a way to work together to make things run smoothly.

I think I was hoping for a little more out of this book. I absolutely LOVED Waiting for Normal by this author. And I had read at least one starred review for this book. While it didn't stand up to those expectations I had, it was a good (and quick) read. At first I wasn't sure if there would be much of a conflict (besides the gas shortage/parents being gone plot), but eventually a few were revealed.

I'm looking forward to reading more books by this author in the future.
Profile Image for Tracy.
33 reviews3 followers
October 12, 2011
Blog Review: http://bcplreviews.blogspot.com/2011/...

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween
Genres: Realistic Fiction, Mystery, Humor

Summary: With his parents stranded on the highway by a gas shortage, it is up to 14-year-old Dewey to keep the family bike repair business under control. But with cars out of commission and an influx of damaged bicycles, things get a little out of hand. Especially when items begin to mysteriously disappear from the shop. Plus, Dewey has to help his older sister and younger-by-a-year brother with the 5-year-old twins and keep the farm chores tended to. All five siblings must find a way to work together while their parents are detained and decide which of their friends and neighbors they can rely on.

Tracy's Thoughts:
This is a lovely, humorous book about balancing fun and responsibility, with a bit of a mystery thrown in for good measure. Connor's dialog is light and amusing, and her characters engaging. The Mariss siblings live in a charming world, and each has his or her own distinct, quirky personality. Plus there is a sneaky, crotchety old neighbor that had me snickering and numerous mini-adventures to keep the pages turning. There is also a message of eco-friendliness and sustainability that will appeal to certain readers.
Profile Image for Rebecca  Yao.
38 reviews
May 9, 2011
Dewey Marriss is stuck. No one would have guessed that the oil wells
would run dry the week his parents went on their annual anniversary
trip. Now Dewey is stuck in the middle of the crunch, managing his
families small bike shop. And with no fuel everyone is on their bike
and is having problems. To add to that, he and his older sister Lil
have to watch after their younger siblings. Week after week the Bike
Barn becomes more and more crowded, and Dewey becomes aware that bike
parts are being stolen. With the shop so crowded and his parents away,
Dewey doesn’t know what to do. Dewey is almost positive he knows who
the culprit is. But does turning in the thief just make the layer of
trouble thicker for Dewey and his siblings? Together they have been
doing fine , with the help of friends but as time passes and the oil
wells stay dry, the Marriss kids wonder if their parents will ever
come home to their hidden little barn.
This exciting novel is full of hope and love. A family story by the
award winning author Leslie Connor tells about what the author
imagines will happen some day in the future. The perfect book for
young bikers, young mechanics, families, and children from grades 3rd
to 6th.
Profile Image for Susan.
109 reviews
May 12, 2010
Very timely. The pumps run dry at the beginning of the summer stranding Dewey's parents up in Maine with an empty fuel tank and no easy way to get home. Fortunately, the family fixes bikes on the side and suddenly people are beating a path to their door as bikes become a popular form of transportation; imagine bikes and pedestrians using the interstate. Dewey does his best to keep up with the demand for repairs but it starts to overwhelm him. Meanwhile, parts are disappearing from the workshop, and nerves are fraying as the kids do their best to hold down the fort until the parents come home.

This family is very close-knit and their free-wheeling acceptance of eachother's quirks and talents are reminiscent of Hilary McKay's Casson family. Lil is the oldest and the artist, Dewey, the people person and able manager of the bike shop, Vince, is the shy mechanical wizard, and the 5 yr old twins: Angus and Eva, help take care of the garden and the animals. It's a little too good to be true, but I enjoyed living in their world, imagining what it might be like to spend the summer using pedal power to get around.
242 reviews8 followers
July 21, 2010
Fourteen-year-old Dewey and his four siblings make do at home while their traveling parents are stuck far away due to a sudden, total fuel crisis. Eighteen-year-old artist Lil bears responsibility fairly well, even while managing to create an ambitious mural on the barn. Dewey and brother Vince handle the goat milking, egg collecting, and the family's modest bike repair shop located in the barn, while they all manage the five-year-old twins.

I love the hobby farm setting in this timely story. And the rosy family dynamic almost always prevails. Even though the plot gets too bogged down in problems stemming from the Bike Barn which Dewey must solve, I appreciate the philosophical take on the bigger crisis. The fuel crunch brings some dire consequences, but much of the focus is on newly realized human cooperation. (At the onset of the fuel crunch, Dewey notices there is no traffic noise coming from the highway--and sees that instead it is filled with orderly lanes of bikers and pedestrians: an image of adaptation and hope.) Idyllic perhaps, but so bud the ultimate themes of cooperation and helpfulness and giving which make this book pleasantly unique.
Profile Image for Melinda.
1,254 reviews
February 7, 2012
I thought that the premise of this book was so clever - all of the gas pumps in the Northeastern U.S. are dry and those wishing for transportation must resort to walking or riding a bike. The visual imagery of highways abandoned by cars and trucks are now filled with orderly rows of pedestrians and cyclists; hence, the "Crunch". I enjoyed the ingenuity of Dewey Mariss and his siblings, living off their land, so to speak, having plenty of garden vegetables, fresh eggs and goat's milk to make due until the grocery shelves fill up again. During this time, Dewey's parents are stuck further up north because of the gas shortage. Dewey and his brother, Vince, spend the majority of their summer days repairing the increasing number of broken bikes that are piling into their small bicycle repair barn. This book models well what children can do to make the best of a tough situation, the importance of being prepared and planning ahead, and the idea that many hands make light work. This was a great book to listen to as the narrator's voice captured the varying emotions of each young character.
Profile Image for Carmine.
445 reviews23 followers
December 25, 2010
Five kids on their own after global oil shortage strands their parents two states away. Their little family bike repair shop is suddenly swamped with bikes to work on in this post oil world. Bikes take over the highway! (which is why I couldn't really file this one under dystopia). Yay! lots of talk of bike repair.

Ok, by 'kids' I should clarify the oldest sister is 18 and the Marriss kids are a pretty capable lot. They aren't homeschooled but the way they pitch together and tackle things confidently and independently reminded me of some of the homeschool families I've known. Their small farm is also well stocked with chickens, sheep, goats and a full vegetable garden in summer so this isn't the post-apocalypse where someone will kill you for a can of beans. This is sort of the light family adventure dystopia for people who like the Penderwicks.

Filed under mystery because there is a case of bike parts missing at their shop and various items being stolen from around their small town.
Profile Image for Samantha.
870 reviews12 followers
August 31, 2012
When the Marriss family is separated by a modern day gas crunch, the oldest of five children must "be the parents" while mom and dad are stranded on the other side of the country. Lil, at eighteen, does a fair job of being mommy to the five-year-old twins while fourteen-year-old Dew and his mechanical genius brother Vince run the family bike repair shop. It isn't long, however, before Dew and Vince begin to feel overwhelmed. After all, when there is no gasoline at the pumps, what are people going to do? Pedal! The more people on the road on bikes means more business for the Marriss Bike Barn, but is it all too much for the young family to handle? This is a great read featuring a family that actually likes each other, who try to pull together in the "Crunch" while waiting for mom and dad to return. Great characters and hilarious pets make this book "good old fashioned comfort food." A great read-aloud or read-alone for children grades 4 and up. Even the adults will enjoy it.
112 reviews1 follower
January 31, 2011
Just when Dewy a 14 year old boy tells his parents he will be in charge of the Bike shop that his father runs his parents are stuck in a "crunch". There is no diesel fuel and everything is being rationed. His parents are stuck up north far from home. Dewy and his older sister Lil are in charge of taking care of their 5 year old twin siblings plus keeping everything afloat on the homefront. The bike shop becomes busier than ever and Dewy does not want to disappoint anyone and tries to do it all with the help of Vince his younger and most amazing talented brother. (Not a fun way for a 14 year old to spend his summer.)Just when things seem to be going well supplies to fix the bikes are disappearing but who would do such a thing.....the neighbor next door?.....or someone new in town?

I would recommend this book for 5th or 6th grade.
Profile Image for Dylan.
6 reviews
May 1, 2013
This book was about the kids are in a bike shop and they have to repaire bikes and sell bike and repaint them they try hard they suck seed on what they do. they where alone with there grandparent and there mom and are at a diffrent place and they or might not make it to where there kids are because all the gas stations have no more gas because of the health enspecter because they did not keep things clean and sanatized.The main charecter in lil and he is in charge of the bike shop. On of the guys they fixed his bike and they didnt get it done in time and he was made. Then after that the kids did not see him again son they got in trouble of the dad of lil.
Profile Image for emyrose8.
3,516 reviews15 followers
February 4, 2014
3.5- I loved that this book was a little futuristic yet seemed like it could happen in my lifetime. Dew's family is in the middle of a gas shortage... actually, there isn't any gas at all. His parents are stuck away and he and his older sister have to take care of the family and run the bike shop. Throw in a mystery and sibling frustrations to equal a great book for middle schoolers. My only complaint is the foul language used at times in the last couple of chapters.
Profile Image for Debbie McNeil.
109 reviews3 followers
November 6, 2010
Interesting premise, too wordy for ele., too slow for middle. Do authors give ANY thought to intended audience?????
Profile Image for Natalie.
446 reviews10 followers
May 10, 2011
Aside from being a great family story and an interesting sort of gentle dystopia, this really made me want to pull my bike out of the spare room and get back to riding.
Profile Image for Angela Kidd Shinozaki.
201 reviews4 followers
July 6, 2011
Great on audio. The image of an autoless highway teamed with bikes and walkers sticks in my head.
Profile Image for Rachel.
Author 6 books1 follower
February 3, 2019
While I can't say this is a book I'll ever read again, I will say it was an interesting read.

The plot and setting threw me off at the beginning. Since there hasn't been a "crunch" since the '70s, it took me a while to determine whether this was a historical fiction or modern day story. Since the family ran a business from their barn, grew and canned their own food, and had chickens and goats for food, I could easily see this having been set several decades back. (I'm not saying that just because a family lives on a farm it makes it unrealistic now - I myself used to live on a farm - but generally when a modern day story is set on a farm, it is usually a big deal for some reason.) But this story is modern day, which is odd since it's a rather distopian plot without the end of the world drama. This continued to throw me off throughout the whole story. I personally would have found it easier to follow had it been set it a southern state during a hurricane, since this is an instant where kids today could actually imagine this happening.

Overall it was a pretty good read. There is minor language throughout (because apparently it's against the law to write a children's book without the use of some language) and some potty humor. I personally was not a fan of the culprit to the robberies. In today's day and age where law enforcement is constantly being accused of wrong doing, I felt it was a poor choice. Vince was my favorite character, although I feel like we don't get to learn all that much about him, and Mr Spivey is still a mystery at the end of the book.

Like I said, not a bad book. Easy read. With the few critiques above in mind, I would recommend this story as it showcases kids problem solving.
Profile Image for Melanie Dulaney.
1,488 reviews74 followers
October 25, 2020
This is really a 4 1/2 star book for me. Leslie Connor's Marriss family feels so real that I was right in the middle of their crunch-time, willing them to get through all the obstacles that life was throwing at them. Lil, Dewey, Vince, Eva and Angus are supposed to have two parents taking charge of all life's decisions, but mom and dad went on a short anniversary trip that has turned long due to the sudden and complete unavailability of fuel. So now Lil, as the eldest, has the command position, Dewey is completely in charge of the family's bike shop, Vince is assisting there, and all of them are doing the chores that come with running a farmimg household, even 5 year old twins, Eva and Angus. Connor's book is filled with unique, well-developed characters and the themes of resilience, working together, and perseverance are illustrated throughout. There is at least one big twist and smaller "monkey wrenches" are thrown into the group's path at every turn. Like most MG realistic fiction, the resolution is a happy one, but it does not feel forced or overly perfect. Librarians should pair this not so new release book with the more recent "The Adventures of Bicycle Girl" (for the bike connection) and "Pine Island Home" (for the kids making it on their own plot). Highly recommended with no potential red flags in the areas of language, sexual content, violence. Diversity among the characters is difficult to presume as there are few physical descriptions and the fictitious events could happen to folks from any race.
Profile Image for Nancy Kotkin.
1,405 reviews18 followers
May 25, 2017
Dystopian middle grade novel about an oil/fuel shortage. This book manages to foreshadow a likely future while simultaneously remembering an actual past. With his parents stranded and everyone turning to bicycles for their main mode of transportation, 14-yr-old Dewey is determined to keep his family's formerly-side business going.

The middle of the novel is fueled by a mystery, which fits in seamlessly. Several red-herring suspects will have readers debating the outcome and flying through the pages to a satisfying resolution.

A heavy dose of reality makes this novel plausible as a near-future unveiling of truth. The oil crisis has a political, rather than geological, basis. The electric car is a new, poorly-adopted alternative to gas-guzzling automobiles. Even with their parents gone, life continues and farm chores must get done. But above all, family is paramount. As in Connor's other novels, it is the human interactions that elevate this novel from good to great.
Profile Image for Justine.
58 reviews
September 15, 2021
3 1/2 stars
I liked this book it just took a long time to get into.
Dewey and his large family all own a farm together and one of those places on the farm they added a little bike barn where people can come to them and they fix bikes, it is really small and it is rare for people to come very often. Then suddenly when both of their parents our way out of town there is no gas left. NO one can find gas anywhere there are no cars on the road. So Dewey and his family are left with the farm to take care of. Since Lily is the oldest she takes over as the parents. Dewey and Vince decide to deal with the bike barn because they know how to fix most bikes. But now that there are no cars everyone has bikes and everyone wants their bike to be fixed. In this story, you get to know all the kids and their personalities. Will they be able to handle all the bikes? When will their parents be back? And on top of all that Dewey thinks that some bike parts are starting to go missing!!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 339 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.