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Missing on Superstition Mountain (Superstition Mountain Mysteries) Hardcover – June 21, 2011
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Pre-order today
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2011: A legendary gold mine, mysterious deaths, and a foreboding mountain set the stage for a new mystery from bestselling author Elise Broach. The Barker brothers--ages 11, 10, and 6--have moved from Chicago to a small town in Arizona that seems like the most boring place on earth. Boring, that is, until they discover that the mountain they are forbidden to explore--appropriately called Superstition Mountain--is keeping some pretty big secrets. Searching for their missing cat, the boys stumble across three human skulls, and with their new neighbor Delilah, they set out to solve the mystery of who died, and how. Actual people and events throughout the story add to the intrigue, as Broach’s novel packs history, friendship, and exploration, into a rousing tale that will appeal to mystery and adventure readers alike.--Seira Wilson
“In this novel for children ages 8-12 she [Elise Broach] purposely leaves storylines dangling, the better perhaps to lure us back for sequels that will (we hope!) disclose what has gone missing on Superstition Mountain.” ―The Wall Street Journal
“A spine-tingling adventure unfolds over the course of swift-moving short chapters, enhanced by Caparo's engaging black-and-white illustrations throughout.” ―Shelf Awareness
“Children will be pleased by the mountain climbing and clue-finding aspects.” ―School Library Journal
“Broach follows her acclaimed Masterpiece with an exciting adventure set in a real-life Arizona mountain range that boasts numerous legends about colorful historical figures, unsolved murders, strange disappearances, and rumors of a hidden gold mine . . . . Classic horror and thriller elements combine with modern touches in Broach's page-turner, a very promising start to this series.” ―Starred, Publishers Weekly
“With the unusual setting, the lure of mystery and adventure, and a certain innocence reminiscent of the Boxcar Children series, this story should find a ready audience.
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Set in central Arizona, the first of that trilogy - Missing on Superstition Mountain - introduces us to the Barker brothers - 11 year old Simon (the science lover with know-it-all tendencies), 10 year old Henry (the quiet reader who questions his own bravery) and 6 year old Jack (the feisty one with a quick temper). The Barker's have just moved to Superstition, Arizona from Chicago and, while they like the big old house left to their family by their (very interesting) Great Uncle Hank Cormody, the fact that nearly all of their neighbors in this much smaller new town seem to be away on vacation has left them bored. That changes quickly, though, when they chase their runaway cat up Superstition Mountain and come across a trio of human skulls neatly lined up on a canyon ledge. This discovery, along with the dire but vague warnings about the dangers of the mountain that they seem to hear from every adult they run into, leads the boys into an investigation of the area. Along with their neighbor, Delilah Dunworthy - who is also new to Superstition - they learn of the mysterious deaths and disappearances the area is famous for and about the legendary Lost Dutchman's Mine.
The stories that swirl around the Lost Dutchman's Mine vary considerably and Broach appears to be weaving elements of several versions into her appealing tale. In the Barker boys and in Delilah, she has given us characters who are resourceful, adventurous and who have the ability to be a bit reckless without being stupid (a sometimes fine distinction). Even though I felt they needed more depth - and I certainly hope to see them developed more fully in the next two books - I still liked these kids, particularly Henry, whose thoughts we're most often given access to.
The story itself is relatively familiar - kids make discovery, try to investigate on their own, run into some danger, make more discoveries. It's worked for years and it again works well here. Broach moves things along at a nice clip and readers are left wanting more, just as they should at the end of the first book in a series. Overall, Missing on Superstition Mountain has a rather old-fashioned feel to it, different in tone, but similar in feel to Jeanne Birdsall's wonderful Penderwicks series and very reminiscent of books I read and loved as a child and am happily sharing with my grandchildren now. I'm happy to have it as part of my collection and am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
A good pick for boys and girls; may appeal to reluctant readers; could well spark an interest in western lore and legend.
Note: Artwork by Antonio Javier Caparo.
The writing is very good, clear and easy to follow. The illustrations added to the tension and atmosphere. The only problem I had was a couple of illustrations didn't quite match the written text. This is something I tend to notice because it bothers me. But the story was enjoyable enough that I willingly overlooked the few errors. I appreciated the author's note informing me that while the story is fiction it is based on a real place and some real events. Overall, a nice read, with plenty of discussion points if used as a read-a-loud.
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But the best part of it is that the books cover has a cat :) ( I love cats)