64 pages 2 hours read

Mary Downing Hahn

Closed for the Season

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2009

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Summary and Study Guide


Mary Downing Hahn published her 29th book for young readers, Closed for the Season, in 2010. Closed for the Season is a young adult mystery novel that received the coveted Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award. Hahn, an American author, has received a great number of accolades for her work in young adult fiction, among which includes the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction and a series of state awards.

Logan Forbes is the 13 year old protagonist of Closed for the Season. The novel follows him on his adventures as he moves into a new town and ancient home in Bealesville. There, Logan meets his next-door neighbor, 12 year old Arthur Jenkins, who immediately tries to befriend Logan by telling him everything he knows about Bealesville. Arthur tells Logan that the home’s former owner, an old woman by the name of Myrtle Donaldson, was killed in the basement and that the crime still remains unsolved. Arthur goes on to tell Logan that Mrs. Donaldson had been the police’s prime suspect in a case of stolen money at the now closed amusement park where she used to work, Magic Forest.

Logan shares everything he has learned with his parents, and though he is glad to know it, still wishes that they will all move into another house. He does not want to continue living in the murder home, and he wants to be Arthur’s friend even less. Logan was a nerd in his old school, and this time he wants to be popular and play sports. Despite Logan’s wishes, there are no other children his age in their neighborhood. Arthur begins showing up at breakfast and offers to show Logan around town. That day, they go to the local library where they research more about the murder. After, they bike the long way to the abandoned amusement park outside of the city, dilapidated and covered in kudzu vines. The park has been closed for several years now and there are rumors that it will soon be turned into a housing development. Signs protesting the change have popped up all around town.

The boys eventually meet Nina Stevens, a beautiful reporter who is currently investigating Mrs. Donaldson’s death. Arthur wants to show her around town, but she unfortunately declines. Both boys do get their wish to get photographed for the paper, however, when Nina arrives to interview the Forbeses about their experience living in the house. Mrs. Jenkins, Arthur’s grandmother, was the one who heard Myrtle’s dog barking the night of the murder, and ultimately, was also the one who found her body. Mrs. Jenkins believes that the killer is Silas Phelps, Myrtle’s son-in-law, who is in jail for petty crime. Bear, the dog, now alternates between the Jenkins and Phelps homes. The next day, Logan and Arthur begin exploring the Magic Forest. While they are there, they overhear Nina and a local man named Billy Jarmon. Arthur believes that Billy is bad news and thinks that both Nina and Billy are there to find the stolen money. The boys are eventually caught and driven home.

The boys rifle through some of Mrs. Donaldson’s things that were left in the attic. They find an old letter that Mrs. Donaldson wrote to her daughter Violet. The note heavily implies that she knew who was responsible for embezzling funds from the Magic Forest. Logan and Arthur conclude that the thief must be the one responsible for murdering Mrs. Donaldson. The boys go to Wal-Mart to talk to Violet where they discover that her ex-husband, Silas Phelps, has been released from jail. The boys finally get to speak to Violet alone, and she tells them about the old gingerbread man game that she used to play with her mother. Her mother invented the game in order to help Violet overcome her fear of the Wicked Witch’s Hut in the amusement park. Logan and Arthur head to the library and steal the remaining copies of maps of the amusement park, dodging an angry Silas and causing a scene. Silas tells Nina about the situation, whom he meets while chasing the children.

Nina tells Logan’s mother about the scene at the library and Mrs. Forbes forbids Logan from hanging out with Arthur. Mrs. Forbes wants Logan to be friends with boys from upper class families. She brings him to Rhoda DiSilvio’s home to meet with her son, Anthony. Anthony and the other children there are rude and cruel to both Logan and Arthur. Logan remains loyal to Arthur and decides to shun the rude children. Logan meets Mr. DiSilvio at yet another one of Rhoda’s parties. Mr. DiSilvio is the investor who owns the Magic Forest; he warns Logan to stay away from the amusement park.

Logan suspects that there is a conspiracy at work, and he begs Arthur’s forgiveness, telling him that avoiding Arthur had never been his choice. Arthur forgives Logan and they sneak out to search the Magic Forest for the money. They try to meet with Violet after her shift at Wal-Mart but her son, Danny Phelps, is already there. He has been brutally beaten by his father, Silas, and he tells them that Silas has already kidnapped her and brought her to the park. The three boys rush to the amusement park with Bear hot on their heels; they find the money and hide it in the Witch’s Hut. They then encounter DiSilvio and Silas who are holding Violet hostage.

DiSilvio threatens them with a gun and reveals to the boys that he was the one who stole the money from the park. Danny confronts both Silas and DiSilvio, even stealing the gun and threatening to kill the man who murdered his grandmother. Luckily, the police arrive and stop him. Nina, Billy, and Johnny are also there; the former reveals herself to be an undercover cop. Billy and Johnny have been working for DiSilvio to find the stolen money until they realize that he has no intention of paying them. They rush off to avoid arrest. After she overhears DiSilvio’s confession, Nina eventually arrests both Mr. DiSilvio and Silas. The boys give Violet the missing money, along with a letter from her mother. With Mr. Donaldson in jail, the amusement park is finally safe from destruction.

Arthur and Logan’s friendship is stronger than ever and Mrs. Forbes reluctantly allows it. The remaining members of the DiSilvio family go bankrupt and move away. The boys start school and find themselves surprisingly popular for their role in solving the mystery. Danny Phelps agrees not to allow anyone to bully them if they keep his crying a secret. Bear eventually goes to live with Danny, and though Logan and Arthur are upset, their respective guardians have agreed to let them adopt dogs as well.