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Book details
  • SubGenre:Action & Adventure / Survival Stories
  • Age Range (years):13 and up
  • Language:English
  • Series title:Herby Strange, Boy Scientist
  • Series Number:1
  • Pages:221
  • eBook ISBN:9780983442318

Herby's Secret Formula

by Sue C. Hughey

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Budding scientist and avid Boy Scout Herby Strange is concerned about world overpopulation and has an idea to make more room for all the people and animals. While concocting a formula to shrink living things, he accidentally shrinks himself to a height of six inches. Herby encounters one unfortunate and entertaining predicament after another, which he faces with bravery, resourcefulness, and determination. He is kidnapped for ransom but escapes into a mountain wilderness teeming with wild animals. He spends several days in a deserted campground building a boat from trash so that he can sail to the marina across the lake and find help. Herby survives the crossing, but is caught in the current going over the spillway, and is swept down and onward to further adventures. Only his own ingenuity and the skills he learned in Boy Scouts, save Herby from the many perils he faces on his long journey back home.
The main character is Herby Strange, an 11-year-old budding scientist. He and his family live in an old house, where Herby has a laboratory. Because of his great concern for the woes caused by world overpopulation and disappearing animal habitats, he is working on a formula to shrink people and animals so that there will be plenty of room for all. The formula accidentally falls into Herby’s bath. He shrinks and goes down the drain. From the plumbing, he climbs a vent pipe to the roof. After a treacherous climb down vines and trellis, he reaches the ground and thrashes his way through vegetation toward voices on the front porch. By the time he reaches the porch, the two policemen have left, his aunt has closed the door, and his cries go unheeded. He has, however, heard the discussion about his supposed kidnapping. Herby spends the night in a pickle jar, wrapped in newspaper, and unintentionally gets carried away by the recycling pick-up. He escapes being crushed at the recycling plant, and then makes his way to a park, where an old man who thinks Herby is a leprechaun captures him. He escapes the old man, only to be kidnapped by a drifter who wants him for ransom. The drifter hitches a ride on a “semi”, steals the truck, and then wrecks it on a rain-slick highway. Herby escapes and hides from the drifter in a culvert. Along with the highway patrol, Herby’s parents and his dog, Bozo, arrive at the accident scene, but Herby is carried away after the drifter tosses him into water going into a creek. His own ingenuity, and the knowledge and training learned in Boy Scouts, save Herby from the many perils he faces on the long trek home through the mountain wilderness. In order to cross a large lake that lies between Herby and home, he spends several days in a deserted campground, building a sailboat out of trash. He is caught in a storm on the lake and blown onto a small island where he spends the night. The perilous crossing ends the next day with his being swept over a spillway. An injury to his ankle, and a confrontation with a bobcat, dash Herby’s hopes of ever seeing home again. However, his dog has been trailing him, finds him, and provides Herby transport. The starving dog finds food at a circus, and frightened by clowns, runs off into the night, with Herby on his back. The two happen upon the camp of Herby’s scout patrol, which has been searching for them. Herby learns what has transpired in his absence. He looks forward to being reunited with his family, but is concerned how they will react to his shrinkage. There is much ado at Herby’s return. In hopes of finding an antidote to Herby’s shrinkage, the family doctor makes arrangements for Herby to be transported to a medical research facility in California. Before leaving, Herby makes an appearance on national television, which ends in hilarious mayhem.
About the author
Author/Artist Sue C. (Strange) Hughey was born in Oklahoma and reared in Kansas. She was a Liberal Arts major at Wichita University, where her father was an art professor. Her mother was a poet and elementary school teacher in Wichita, where Sue worked in the art departments at Boeing Aircraft and two printing companies. After moving to Colorado with her husband Harold and two young sons, Sue worked for several Denver-area art studios and printing companies as a freelance artist and copywriter. She later opened her own graphic arts studio, which evolved into a mapping business, drafting maps for various U.S. Governmental agencies. During this time, Sue contracted with EPA to write and illustrate a booklet about the environment, which was distributed to millions of school children in the U.S. Canada was granted permission to also print and distribute the booklet in that country. She also wrote, illustrated and published a series of educational “map posters,” which had a large school market. The coin she designed for Colorado’s Centennial, through an act of congress, became the first commemorative medallion ever minted in a U.S. mint (in Denver). She also designed Colorado’s commemorative Bicentennial coin, produced by the Franklin Mint. Sue retired her business and moved to Western Colorado in 1996. Her first juvenile novel, Herby’s Secret Formula, garnered three prestigious book awards in 2009. A sequel will be published in 2012, as well as an adult novel under the name S.C. Strange.