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Book Review

This first mystery book in " The New Sugar Creek Gang" series by Pauline Hutchens Wilson and Sandy Dengler is published by Moody Publishers.

The Case of the Red Hot Possum is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

When 11-year-old Les moves to a new neighborhood, he meets several children who have one thing in common: They are all avid fans of the Sugar Creek Gang mysteries (a real book series written by Paul Hutchens). Before long, Les, Bits, Tiny, Lynn and Mike form the New Sugar Creek Gang and set out to solve their first mystery. They want to know who is illegally trapping possums in Sugar Creek County Park and why. As Les and his new friends search for answers, they discover some truths about prayer and honoring parents. In the end, they deduce that the owner of a possum farm is behind the illegal activities in the park.

Christian Beliefs

The main character, Les, is a believer who attends church with his family. Many of the other characters are Christian as well and also attend church. In several instances, the children pray when they don't know what to do. A biblical worldview is reinforced by most of their parents.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

The members of the New Sugar Creek Gang honor their parents, with the exception of Bits. Bits is often disrespectful and even disobedient. In one instance, Bits acts on a disobedient decision and finds Les and herself in danger. Tiny is outspoken in telling Bits about the importance of obeying those in authority, especially her parents.


Animals are caught in traps but the graphic details are not described.



Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • How does Les feel when Tiny first leads them in prayer?
  • Where does he say prayer belongs?
  • Have you ever been too uncomfortable to talk about your faith outside of church?
  • When does God say you should talk about your faith?

  • What is Bits' attitude toward her father?

  • Why does she feel this way?
  • How does her attitude compare to the biblical command to honor your parents?

  • What does Mr. Henderson call Archibald Sluski?

  • Why is this term derogatory?
  • Do you think it is right to make fun of or call someone names because they are physically or mentally challenged?
  • Why do some people do that?
  • What does God's Word say about loving those who are different from you?

Additional Comments/Notes

Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 to 12




Pauline Hutchens Wilson, Sandy Dengler






Record Label



Moody Publishers


On Video

Year Published




We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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