Monday, February 17, 2014

MMGM--The Secret Box

The Secret BoxRingwald, Whitaker. The Secret Box
February 25th 2014 by Katherine Tegen Books
ARC from Baker and Taylor

On her birthday, Jax gets a weird box from her estranged aunt Juniper. Her mother didn't want her to have it, but she manages to get it from being sent back in the mail and tries to open it with the help of her cousin Ethan. The box only has a certain number of tries to open it, and it has to be opened in a certain location. After traveling around a bit, the children decide it must be opened in Washington D.C., at the Lincoln memorial.Jax and Ethan tell Ethan's brother Tyler that there is a geocaching competition with a trophy as the prize, and he's allowed to drive the children there. On the way, they have the box stolen by the Hatmakers, who also have kidnapped the estranged aunt from her home, and the children find out that she was an archaeologist, and that the box leads them to relics from Pandora. The Hatmakers want to use these relics to suck the hope out of people and take over the world, so they must be stopped. Jax finds out crucial information about her long lost father. A trilogy is planned.
Strengths: Lots of action, interesting fantasy (the Pandora's box was a nice and convincing touch), and nice cousinly relationships. Jax turns out to have a Mexican father, and this is shown nicely on the cover. The Hatmakers are African-American, and Mrs. Hatmaker is also shown on the cover.
Weaknesses: I'll buy this one, and middle grade students who like fantasy will enjoy this, but I am SOOOOOO tired of fantasy! I would have preferred straight adventure.

17555088 Meissner, David and Richardson, Kim. Call of the Klondike: A True Gold Rush Adventure
October 1st 2013 by Calkins Creek

In 1897, prospectors brought back a fortune in gold, and set off another gold rush. Two men who made the decision to try to make their fortunes were Stanley Pearce and Marshall Bond. Obtaining funding from their wealthy parents and making good preparations, the two set off for the gold fields, willing to work, and fairly realistic about their prospects. They do fairly well for themselves, hanging out with Jack London and working a decently productive claim, but they soon realize that the won't begin to recuperate the money invested in their scheme, and return home. What makes this book so interesting is that wealth of primary source documents which make up the bulk of it. Knit together beautifully with some narration, this tale is told through letters, telegrams and journal entries of the two men, which had been handed down to Mr. Richardson, a descendent of Stanley Pearce's. The reproduction of these documents, along with period photographs, makes for a riveting account. There is also information about the rest of the lives of these two men, who did their best to succeed, but lacked the luck necessary for being really successful at this venture. I love that the end papers are metallic. This is definitely a must have for most libraries-- highly information AND readable!

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday at Anastasia Suen's blog.


  1. I'm also tiring of the fantasy trend. Too many mysteries in objects that suddenly appear, that only said protagonist can solve. Oh well, this title does sound intriguing and I'll eventually pull it off the shelf.

  2. Done with fantasy, too! But the Secret Box looks as though it would appeal to my sixth graders.