Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Grace Cahill dies and leaves her relatives a choice—take a million dollars or a get a clue to the family secret. It turns out that the Cahill family is the most powerful family in world history but they have lost the source of their power and there are 39 clues that need to be found. The main characters are orphans named Dan and Amy, and they are competing against several other nasty groups of distant Cahill relatives who choose the clue. The first clue is pretty vague but leads them to researching Ben Franklin. First they go to Philadelphia then they end up in Paris. The competitors are cutthroat and there are fires and explosions that threaten to kill Dan and Amy. This book reminded me of The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure because of the complex historical clues that send the characters to some pretty amazing places. I thought I would love this book but I really didn't. Some of the supporting characters were stereotypical and completely unbelievable and I thought that no real kid in the world could ever have figured out the complex clues that Dan and Amy solve. If you can get past my complaints it is a story with lots of action and history. I'm sure lots of kids will love it and enjoy playing the online game that goes along with it. It has received great reviews and Rick Riordan is a good author, so read the book and convince me I'm wrong!
Have you ever seen a heist movie where criminals pull off a brilliant robbery? Swindle is the first real heist book for kids that I can remember reading. The kids in this book, with the leadership of sixth-grader Griffin Bing, plan and pull off a very elaborate theft of a baseball card worth one million dollars. The card is in the hands of a shop owner who lied to Griffin about the card's value. Griffin and his best friend Ben just want back what they think is rightfully theirs. However, they have to get past a vicious guard dog, a high tech security system, a strong safe, and a nosy next door neighbor. The cover of the book makes you think it's a dog book or a baseball book, but it's neither of those. It's really the story of a group of kids getting back at an unscrupulous adult who underestimates their intelligence. This will appeal to readers who like action and crime and kids who come out on top. (And don't worry, adults, the kids do realize in the end that they did something seriously illegal)