Travel Reads: Dead Fred, Flying Lunchboxes, and the Good Luck Circle

Proceeds from
book sales
go to benefit
Frank McKinney’s
Caring Home
Project Foundation

An amphibious shark, strangler fig trees and blood red remora … oh my! That’s what Ppeekk (pronounced “Peekie”) has to contend with after she moves to Florida and meets Dead Fred.

Dead Fred, a small and crispy fish, isn’t really dead … but he is on his way … and Ppeekk has been chosen to help save his underwater kingdom, High Voltage, from the evil intentions of Megalodon.

With her new friends, the annoying but cute Mini Romey and the erudite (although just 13) Quatro, Ppeekk sets out to save High Voltage and Dead Fred (actually Frederick the Ninth, King of High Voltage) while keeping it secret from her bumbling dad (who follows her to school in his beat up Yugo, to make sure she gets there safely) and keeping up with school. Oh! And she has to keep dodging the bridge keeper, a cantankerous old woman named Bridget, who likes to chew on cigars.

This fresh new children’s book from Frank McKinney (yes, the real estate mogul) is an entertaining read that delights the mind with simple and fun fantasy, while also addressing the very real issue of parents letting their children drift away as they enter their teen years.

The book “was born from my experiences walking my daughter Laura (Ppeekk) and her friends to school every single school day of her life,” writes McKinney in the Afterword. “I encourage kids to ask their parents to take the time to walk them to school. … Kids, don’t let your parents tell you they are too busy. Tell them this is the most special time in your life, and that you want to create your own stories and adventures that will turn into memories for you both to share forever.”

What Worked for Me:
The delightful magic of the Good Luck Circle was pure fun. How many times have I wanted to have a magic stick that I could create my own Good Luck Circle with? This book let me live that magic vicariously through the characters.

Also, the way McKinney gets around the “people can’t breath under water” issue was quite clever … and plausible, in a magical kind of way.

The character of Ppeekk was well developed, and though he wasn’t a major character, so was her father.

What pulled me out of the story:
I think Quatro’s intellectual bent was a little contrived. Sometimes he was just too erudite for a 13 year old … but that got better as the story progressed. It’s not that I don’t think a kid can be smart … I was the smart kid growing up. Kids used to tease me because I used “big words” like “average” instead of normal. It didn’t matter to them that those two words mean entirely different things. Whatever. It’s just that his dialogue came off a little forced and choppy.

Also, when Mini Romey was introduced there were a few typos … her name changed from Mini Romey to Mini Romney and back again. And it took too long to explain her name. At first, I thought her first name as Mini and Romey was her surname. Nope. Not the case. She’s the second Romey in her family, named after her mother.

Would I Recommend the Book?
Yes. Minor problems aside, I enjoyed reading the book … even though I’m most definitely an adult. I think a child or young adult would enjoy it even more. You can learn more about the book at its website,

SCORE: 4 out of 5 Palm Trees Possible

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NOTE: Although I received this book free to review, that did not affect my opinion of the book. Read past reviews of books I’ve received for free and you’ll know I don’t hold my punches. 😉

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About the author

As The Genre Traveler, Carma Spence loves to view the world through Genre-Coloured glasses. In other words, she sees the world through a lens of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, where trash cans can be Daleks in disguise and neighborhood forests can harbor faeries and sprites. Magic realism is real! Or at least you can choose to see the world that way to add to the fun and awe of life.

2 comments on “Travel Reads: Dead Fred, Flying Lunchboxes, and the Good Luck Circle

  1. Rosemary

    My 6 yr old son LOVES this book. We have read it to him 4 times! He has been through the Magic Tree House series, Spiderwick Chronicles, started on Harry Potter, but he still comes back to Dead Fred every time. He has had the chance to meet Frank McKinney and we recently went on the walk to school with Frank, PPeeKK, Quatro, Mini Romey, and more!! He joined 65 other kids. There were sparklers, everyone played dead like Fred, danced in the Good Luck Circle, threw coconuts in to high voltage, and true to from Frank let each child go in to 7Eleven and pick out one treat. One child picked a pint of Ben and Jerry’s! LOL

    It was magical for me and my children!! This was a great opportunity to bring the book to life and grow their interest in reading and imagination!

    Anyone one can go on the walk! It’s the first Friday of every month at 7am.

    Frank and his family are awesome!!!

    Get the book because all the proceeds go to his Caring House Project in Haiti!!!!

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