Cooper and the Enchanted Metal Detector

Adam Osterweil

On days like this I imagine I’ve woken up in heaven. Squeaky brings me to the first garage sale, where there are a hundred people lined up outside. I smile at the nice lady by the garage door, and she lets me in early. Under a pile of books I find an original copy of the Declaration of Independence. Fireworks go off inside my head when I see the price tag—25¢. I pay the lady and race back home, Squeaky begging me the whole time to tell him what I bought. Mom gives me a record-breaking hug. I sell it for a million dollars, and Mom and I retire to Florida and swim in blue water with brightly colored fish.

Cooper and his mom run an antique business out of the old barn behind their house. Actually, Cooper does most of the work, since his mom is often lost in her own thoughts. But with Cooper riding his bike, Squeaky, to garage sales looking for treasures, setting the prices, and ordering the groceries, he and his mom do just fine.

Then one day he meets Decto, a metal detector. Together they find Revolutionary War artifacts in the backyard—and life gets complicated. Suddenly strangers want to take the property from Cooper and his mom and turn it into a historical park. The more Cooper learns about history and his own heritage, the more determined he is to resist. But how can a mere kid—even with some help from Decto, an Iroquois storyteller and coin collector named Jan, and Mr. Shepherd, who runs the town’s historical museum—thwart the intruders?

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  • Ages: 10 and up
  • Grades: 4 - 9
  • Pages: 250
  • Hardcover: $18.95
  • Softcover: $9.95
  • E-book: $8.95

Recent Reviews

Narrated in the first person by Cooper, Osterweil’s novel reveals the inner workings of a sensitive boy trying to figure out how to help his family survive. Cooper’s active imagination is a stark contrast to the responsibility he assumes at home. …budding historians will have the opportunity to learn about an important moment in U.S. history—and may even be inspired to pick up a metal detector of their own. A poignant coming-of-age story and history lesson rolled into one.

—Kirkus Reviews

This beautifully written book is steeped in history and folklore all told through the eyes of an amazing eleven-year-old boy who only wants to have his mother act like a mother and the land to be free of hurt.

—Children's Literature

Details of the battle and the part that the Iroquois tribes played in the Revolutionary War are accurate and extensive. ... An interesting look at the history of a community.

—School Library Journal

Oddly engaging.


Osterweil effectively captures Cooper’s first-person point of view and the fantasy world he often slips into, where he communicates with Squeaky his bicycle, Decto his metal detector, the television, the ghost of his little brother, and even planet Earth itself. In finding musket balls, cannon, tomahawks, buttons, and coins, and learning the stories behind them, Cooper helps to preserve a piece of history, and the work affects him: “There were going to be some big changes around here. Huge changes.” As a result, readers will sense a healthier future for Cooper and his mother. Though the patchwork of Cooper’s narrative, the book’s history lessons, and Iroquois lore is a bit ragged, Cooper’s voice is earnest and engaging. Funny how a trip to the past can open up a new future.

—The Horn Book

Honors for Cooper and the Enchanted Metal Detector

  • Language Arts-Grades K-6 Novels—2013 Honor Book, Society of School Librarians International