From School Library Journal
Grade 4–6—In the small town of Sultana, Manitoba, population 463, Cody and twins Eric and Rachel are looking for some way to put their town on the map and fuel the local economy. If their plan succeeds, maybe Cody's father's gas station will be crowded with customers and Eric and Rachel's mom won't have her hours cut at a restaurant. So a plan is hatched that promises to bring tourists from all over the world to sleepy little Sultana. The only problem is that over half of the book is devoted to the kids' scheme: making a fake Egyptian artifact that they plant along the river for a prominent citizen to find. Too many pages are devoted to the making of a relic that somehow fools the archaeologists and hieroglyph specialists that convene much, much later in the story. By then, some situations seem contrived as the author attempts to wrap up the story quickly and details are inserted that allow for a neat exit. Pyramids and references to Indiana Jones may have kids picking up this adventure, but a slow-moving plot and shallow characterizations won't have readers lining up for the second book in this series, which is pitched way too obviously.—Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public Library, OH
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A group of kids “make history,” literally, after they carve Egyptian-seeming hieroglyphics into clay and allow the “ancient” artifact to be discovered in the river near their small town in Manitoba, Canada. Cody, 12, is desperate to save his town from going under, especially because his best friend, Eric, may have to leave. So, with the help of Eric's twin sister, Rachel, the friends cook up a plan to make their town a tourist attraction and revive the economy. After doing online research, they carve symbols into a clay “tablet,” and sure enough, the word gets out that an exciting discovery has been made, and the press and tourists flock to Sultana to view the find. Oertel keeps the tension mounting in this start to a new series. Will the tricksters end up in prison? Who is the mysterious, gun-toting stranger seen by the river? The resolution when the hoax is revealed is too slick, but then the three kids are off to Egypt, leaving new fans eager for the series' next installment. Grades 4-6. --Hazel Rochman