From School Library Journal
Grade 5-9-Since his death in 1881, the spirit of John Matthew Smith, once a wealthy patriarch, has been taking an annual walk around the Square of homes he built for his large family. He has whipped up whirlwinds, even downing an oak, in an effort to get his many descendants to patch up quarrels, reunite, and introduce the youngest branches of the family tree to one another. He had hidden three treasures, two of which were found by the family when desperately needed. Now it is time for the youngest relatives to find the third. Sending dreams to two Smith teens who have never met, he ensures their return to Smiths Mills. Facing a counterpane of mystery, mechanically minded Ellsworth and angry Jess must join forces to figure out the family dynamics and the meaning of the treasure clues. Anderson excels in her realization of the detailed setting, which is absolutely necessary for the success of the plot. In Ellsworth, she has created a fully rounded and appealing character who has never been told why his father cut off all ties with his relatives years earlier. With a touch of the family eccentricity of The Monkey Tree (Dutton, 1998) and a bit of the fantasy of Going through the Gate (Puffin, 2000), Anderson has conjured up a fascinating read for puzzle lovers while sandwiching in an important message about intergenerational relationships.Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 5-7. Although this perceptive tale of two teenagers helping to reunite a family lacks the brilliant fantasy elements of Anderson's Going through the Gate
(1997), it serves up full measures of atmosphere, mystery, and sensitive characterization. Following a pleading letter from a Quaker aunt he's never met, Ellsworth Smith braves his father's displeasure to visit the rest of his clan and see the 10 houses that a wealthy nineteenth-century ancestor, John Matthew Smith, built for his children. Only seven of the houses were ever occupied; in the other three, John Matthew hid "treasures" intended to help future generations in hard times. Two of the treasures have been found, and now, in the face of old tragedies and longstanding family disputes, it's time to find the third. Stirring in a dash of the supernatural and sometimes eerie parallels between present and past, Anderson sends Ellsworth and a troubled cousin in search of the treasure's location, then expertly uses setting details (including weather) to draw the quest to a suspenseful climax. In the end, the entire family joins the hunt, and in working together they discover not only a hoard of silver but also precious treasure in one another. John PetersCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved