From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8–Twelve-year-old CJ, his nine-year-old sister Brid, and six-year-old Patrick Smithfork resent leaving Brooklyn for Manhattan, even though they are pleased that their dad's video-game company has struck it rich. Finding a wall, a painting, and a book behind a grille in their historical Fifth Avenue apartment, the children start to decipher clues that send them on an architectural treasure hunt. Their neighbor Eloise Post hopes that the hunt will reveal the whereabouts of her father's lost fortune from the 1930s. The man left a book of poems by Langston Hughes, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and others that lead to seven famous structures around the city. This debut novel is a breathtaking romp, focusing on the work of little-known master tile mason and architect Rafael Guastavino. Sherry's passion will make readers fall in love with New York and the poems that portray its many personalities. Full-page illustrations appear throughout. There is a majesty to the author's juxtaposition of monument and poem, although this grandeur masks some of the book's irregularities. The third-person perspective shifts in a way that distances readers from the main characters and impedes character development. Secondary figures are sometimes sketched lightly, although the implied sequel may develop them more fully. Similar to “The 39 Clues” (Scholastic) books or Michael D. Beil's “The Red Blazer Girls” (Knopf), this story incorporates many subplots but lacks a tidy narrative. Nevertheless, readers will relish being tourists on this treasure hunt, no matter what. Pick it up and watch for the sequel.Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The Smithfork children, at least the older ones, CJ, Brid, and Patrick—12, 9, and 6, respectively—are unhappy about leaving Brooklyn for Manhattan. Their father’s video-game business is so lucrative that they’re moving to a fabulous Fifth Avenue apartment once owned by the Post family. The kids are as depressed as they are unimpressed, until they notice something unusual about the place. Turns out the apartment is a giant puzzle filled with codes, clues, and carvings that seem to point toward a secret fortune. But finding it and figuring out who it belongs to takes skill, stamina, and the ability to conduct searches across the city without tipping their hand. This can be dense, but like Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer (2004), it packs all sorts of interesting information about topics like history and architecture into a mystery that kids can (almost) solve. Although the way the children run around Manhattan may raise some eyebrows, readers will get a real feel for the uniqueness that is New York City. Grades 4-7. --Ilene Cooper