Monday, June 27, 2011

Missing on Superstition Mountain

Missing on Superstition Mountain
by Elise Broach
Henry Holt, 2011. 262 pgs. Fiction.

When Simon, Henry, and Jack move with their parents to Arizona to live in Uncle Hank's old house, they are fascinated by, but warned against Superstition Mountain. Their parents tell them never to go up on the mountain, but when their cat runs away, right up the hillside, what can they do? They follow. Sticks stuck into the trail help them find their way back home, but not before Jack has tumbled down a hillside landing by three gleaming human skulls. The kids scramble back home, lie to their parents about where they have been, and begin to investigate the great number of mysterious deaths and disappearances on Superstition Mountain. Along the way they take up with a girl named Delilah who has confiscated their missing cat for her own. The four feel compelled to climb the mountain again to bring down the skulls but complicating their quest is the persistent legend of the Lost Dutchman's Mine and who else might be trying to find it. Missing on Superstition Mountain is an exciting, atmospheric adventure story which cries out for a sequel. The children are appealing (with the exception of Jack who is acting his incredibly annoying age), though their continual deceiving of their parents is problematic. The book is distinguished from most children's literature these days by the presence in the story of strong, caring parents. Also, Henry's struggle with wanting to be sensible, but also as brave as his Uncle Hank, for whom he is named, rings true and works out well. Many pluses, and a few minuses make this a good book for reading and discussion for middle grade readers.

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