In the year 2999, life is surprisingly similar to current times. There are big cities located near quiet farm areas. There are cars and bridges and busy people going about their lives. And there are hydrants located in the city, ready to help whenever a fire threatens.
Two damaged fire hydrants are about to go above and beyond the call of duty, however. Tossed in the back of a water department truck, they end up bounced onto the side of the road after the truck swerves to avoid hitting a squirrel. Surprisingly, they realize that they can now talk to each other and a Voice comes out of the sky telling them that they have been given special powers and that they should go out and enjoy them. The Voice also informs them that their names are Hydra and Pluggo.
Bit by bit, Hydra and Pluggo learn of their new powers and skills, from the ability to turn on a forehead-flashlight to being able to fly. They help out whenever they find someone in danger and meet other hydrants and friendly animals as they journey through town, but Hydra feels drawn to a larger mission. Along the way, he realizes that he is a FancyCrazyHydrant and that there is much more to the city and his new friends than he ever thought possible.
FancyCrazyHydrants: The Mission is intended for seven- to eleven-year-olds. Talking superhero fire hydrants notwithstanding, there were many times when the authorís vocabulary and descriptions seemed too advanced for that age group. Perhaps that makes it more suitable as a read aloud, or maybe younger kids will enjoy reading about the fire hydrantsí adventures enough that they wonít be put off by confusing passages.
Ray makes good use of sounds within the story, never missing an opportunity to bring a scene to life with a description of the noises surrounding the characters. There is also a genuine sense of fun and discovery as Hydra and Pluggo use their powers and meet other characters for the first time. Sometimes it seems like they are just moving from one event to the next with no real purpose, but it all comes together in the end, and the reader sees the importance of some seemingly random encounters.
FancyCrazyHydrants: The Mission isnít a fabulous book, but itís an entertaining story with an inventive premise. Hopefully, with time and experience, future volumes of this series will live up to its potential.