Children's Book Reviews

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Life as a Mystery

Life can sure be a mystery at times. Like a wise person said the other day, "Life didn't turn out the way I planned." And, like Sam in The Case of the Vanishing Scroll, it will often turn out better in the long run even if we have to go through twists, turns, and red herrings as we live through each step of the mystery of life. I like to read mysteries, not because as someone else said, it's all tidied up and solved in the end, but because of the superb faculties used in solving each step, rather like the satisfaction of putting together a jigsaw puzzle. It's the journey along the way and finding a piece that fits. I wonder if Sam will solve more mysteries in future books. I hope so. I also hope you enjoy this book and solving the next piece of mystery of your life.

Sam Dixon, an eleven year old American boy, may be way over his head in caving, a new culture in Torino, Italy, and in trying to solve the mystery of who stole an irreplaceable Biblical scroll of the “Book of Esther” from the museum. He is dismayed to find that the police have accused their good family friend Dr. DiGinio, an archaeologist in the museum, of the theft stating his need for money for his niece Maria’s life-saving surgery. Sam and his brother Mike nearly perish as they follow the complicated leads and many shady suspects. How can one young boy get himself in so deep, and will he be able to survive?

J. D. Howard has woven a page-turning mystery that is not only well-plotted, but also shows the fascinating streets of Torino, compassionate and eager protagonists, and a fast paced story. It is wonderful that mysteries for young people are coming into the fore again. The young readers will not only enjoy the good read, but may also be able to write a report for school based on their new attraction for Italy, Egyptian artifacts and hieroglyphics, or the ancient scrolls with only a little further research. Teachers can also use the book as a jumping off point for such units.


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