Format: Longer chapter book with no illustrations
Interest Level: 5-7
Reading Level: 4.2
Concerns: Lying and deceitfulness of the kids is disturbing. They endanger their lives and promise to continue doing so in the next book.
This book is set in Superstition, Arizona, a small town located at the base of Superstition Mountain. Many people have disappeared or been killed up in these mountains throughout history. The author begins the story with three boys—Simon, Henry, and Jack—who have recently moved into the area. Searching for their lost cat, the boys inadvertently stumble upon 3 skulls in a canyon on a ledge that Jack has fallen onto. When they return home, they find their mom has called the police. They are warned by the police to never go up in the mountains again. The boys meet Delilah the next day. Delilah has found and adopted their lost cat. She also is new to the town. The four begin a shaky friendship and form an alliance to discover the secret of the mountain. It takes some ingenuity, hard-working research, and some knowledge of science to discover the mystery of the mountain. True to life, Superstition Mountain is a sort of Bermuda Triangle of the West. The boys vow to return to the canyon to bring those 3 skulls home. Simon masterminds a big deception and enlists all the kids support so that they can return to the canyon. An unfortunate accident in the canyon makes the kids wonder if they too will be added to the list of missing on Superstition Mountain. Delilah falls and breaks her ankle. While waiting to be rescued, Henry and Delilah find a map and a gold coin that they think might help them find a lost gold mine and hidden treasure. As the book ends at this point, we are left with the promise of more adventures for the kids in this historical area.
In looking for good role models in this book, one has to look at the adults. The boy’s parents are very astute. Mom especially is careful to watch over her kids. Because of this is takes great effort on Simon’s part to deceive them. Detailed planning, disobeying of direct orders, and pressuring of the more timid to go along with the deception are all required to return to the mountains without mom’s knowing. Henry seems like he wishes he didn’t have to go along with Simon’s wild plans. He worries and frets but in the end all four children lie and mislead their parents into believing they are somewhere else. In truth, however, they are off doing what they had been told distinctly not to do-- exploring the Bermuda Triangle of the Southwest. They know they shouldn’t, but they do anyways. At the end of this book, Simon tells his brothers and Delilah to wait until Delilah’s leg heals and until their parents relax their watchfulness over them, then they will return to the canyon to find the gold mine. Unfortunately, I could find no good young role models for our boys in this otherwise exiting story.
If you do allow your child to read this book, I would highly recommend you reading it beforehand and be prepared to talk to them about the kid’s behavior. Questions should focus on real-life consequences of such behavior and how dangerous it could be. Also, discussion should focus on how God sees everything and how we will be held responsible for our actions. Disobeying and lying are never okay.
Mom and Dad keep watchful eye on kids and try to require obedience.
Kid’s go to the library and research history of the area.
Exciting and interesting read.
Simon in particular has to work hard at sneaking out under his mother’s watchful eye. It requires much deceitfulness.
Henry knows what he is doing is wrong but follows along instead of doing what is right.
Promise is made for more of the same in the second book.
Some of the disappearances are discussed including the deaths of three teenagers whose skulls the boys find. In real life, these children were never found.
Some of the coincidence theme in this historical mystery is reminiscent of Chasing Vermeer but this is a more logical mystery.
Some supernatural/ paranormal incidents of people disappearing or being killed without anyone knowing what happened to them. The paranormal feel is similar to Chasing Vermeer but because art is the main focus, Chasing Vermeer is less scary. I think having real people disappear in a real historical area like Superstition Mountain is more disturbing than the art mysteries involved in Chasing Vermeer.