Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Best Adventure Story of the Year

The Mystery at Blackbeard's Cove by Audrey Penn
(Upper Elementary to Middle School Readers)

This book is the best upper elementary/middle grade reads I’ve picked up so far this year!  I apologize up front by the vast number of !!!’s that you’re going to find in this review.  It was just that great.
This book centers around 4 friends who band together to bury their mentor (can you have a pirate mentor,?? Because, if so, I WANT ONE!) at sea.  After kidnapping the body and doing the deed, the read adventure begins as the foursome work together to solve of case of Blackbeard’s missing treasure.
There are so many things to love about this book, I don’t know where to start so here is a list (in no certain order) of the top 5 things I loved (although I easily could have come up with a list of top ten!)
1.        I loved the setting.  Having visited the Outer Banks before, I felt like I was right back there.  The author made those islands come alive for me again from the dialect to the places names to all the little things that make that part of the US so unique.
2.       I loved the main characters!  Everyone in the book ceased being just a character for me right out of the gate.  Each one was painted with such a wealth of emotion and detail, I just know they had to all be based on a real person.
3.       I loved the adventure!  This book reminded me so much of those adventures from my youth.  Images of Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island and Swiss Family Robinson played in my mind the whole time.  Finally, a book for young people that will inspire them to put down the remote, the phone, the controllers and yes, even the book!, and go outside for an adventure.  I remembered those books from my youth for the sheer adventure and our publishing world is sadly lacking these kinds of books.  This book is one I would recommend for those summer days when kids don’t want to leave the house.  This will inspire future treasure hunters and maybe even some pirates.  This is one I would recommend to teachers everywhere—read-alouds or read- alongs—the whole class will love it.
4.       I loved the mystery!  There are so many small details that came along like dropping bread crumbs along a trail.  I loved following along just to see where the trail would take me.  And, it took me place I’ve never been before!  Hard to do when you’ve read as much as me.  Secret tunnels under the ocean, pirate ships, false bottoms of trunks and a tree with a basement—amazing.  Could just one person make all that up?
5.       I loved the history!  Call me a sucker, but anything with a beheaded pirate and missing diamonds is enough to keep me glued to the seat.  To know that so much of this is true make it just that much better.  For those kids who love the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, this is sure to be a winner.  I want to revisit the area just to walk around and soak up all that amazing history. 
This is definitely a book I will recommend to all those couch potato kids out there; to all the Pirate lovers;  to all of us who years for an old-fashioned adventure story complete with ghosts, skeletons, thunderstorms and surprise endings.  Hhm, maybe that doesn’t just apply to kids, after all!

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