Story of a 12-year-old boy and the adventures he has in his neighborhood, dealing with situations like bullies, girls, and smugglers. Essentially Slice of Life meets adventure in a suburban setting.
There's basically two elements to the book. The Slice of Life elements are episodic, and woven inbetween the adventure elements, which follow the protagonists as they investigate a mysterious tunnel and a series of clues, resulting in them getting into trouble with smugglers.
This book contains examples of:
- Banging for Help: Amanda is Bound and Gagged in a crate and banging and "mmmphhing" to get attention, which scares Archie for a bit.
- Bound and Gagged: Happens to Amanda inside a crate.
- The Bully: There are two who play a role during the first third of the story. One of them has a bizarre obsession with pirates.
- Free-Range Children: The main characters explore the town, an underground passage, and even ride an inflatable raft across a river.
- Girls Have Cooties: Archie and his two male friends have a very negative view of girls, and don't want them to play tackleball (a variation of football) with them.
- Gosh Darn It to Heck!: The dialog contains exclamations such as "darn!", "good grief!", "darn near!" and "nothing doing!". The time period of the story isn't stated.
- Inevitable Waterfall: When riding an inflatable raft through a river, one of these shows up.
- Informed Attractiveness: The narration refers to three neighbor girls as "three attractive girls" when introduced.
- Kid Detective: The heroes become that (in the classic "clue solving" sense) when trying to figure out the secret of the tunnel.
- Linked List Clue Methodology: Each clue the kids find leads to them searching for the next.
- Secret Underground Passage: There is one used by smugglers, that the heroes stumble across while exploring the neighborhood.
- Shown Their Work: The author has a great deal of knowledge involving tunnel construction, and it shows. The tunnel and its design are described in great detail.
- Slice of Life: The main theme of the story, crossed with some suburban adventure.
- ¡Three Amigos!: Archie and his two friends, who he is usually with. Amanda and her two friends, who are usually with her.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: The book throws out lots of numbers, measuring the number of minutes that an action was performed, the exact size of something, etc. However, the numbers don't add up. Characters have celebrations that last minutes or even hours, characters stand around and watch people for minutes instead of seconds, and objects are sized very oddly.