39 Clues Book 10: Into the gauntlet- Review
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Margaret Peterson (2010). The 39 Clues Book 10: Into
the Gauntlet. Scholastic Inc. ISBN 978-0545060509 .
Litland recommends ages 9-12.
the hunt for the 39 Clues, Amy and Dan Cahill have
uncovered history's greatest mysteries and their
family's deadliest secrets. But are they ready to face
the truth about the Cahills and the key to their
unmatched power? After a whirlwind race that's taken
them across five continents, Amy and Dan face the most
the difficult challenge yet- a task no Cahill dared to
imagine. When faced with a choice that could change the
future of the world, can two kids succeed where 500
years worth of famous ancestors failed? (Scholastic)
Respect for self and others: This
includes integrity (adherence to a code of
conduct or value system), honesty vs. manipulation or
lying, compassion, caring for others (characters not
focused on getting their way no matter what) self
respect--main character does not let others
denigrate him or her; use of self control and
self-discipline ; taking charge of own behaviour;
fairness to others (such as taking turns and
avoiding the blame game). Reader should ask themselves
“How does the protagonist depict their peers?” “Would
you want others to treat you this way? Should everyone
act this way?” This includes true friendships
that do not involve regular lying, deceit or
manipulation; considering consequences of actions
prior to acting; owning up to responsibility once
an action has been taken.
story has an ongoing theme of integrity. Each character
questions their own actions (p. 33) Ian’s self-talk
takes us through the psychological harm caused by
parents whose ethics are relative rather than adhering
to absolute moral values. The examples are sufficiently
real that the reader can project into their real life
and imagine having seen some of those behaviours in
others too. This is a good example of how stories teach
us life lessons. Ian is hopeful, but doubtful, his
parents will protect and not harm he and Natalie, for
whom he is starting to experience pity.
35-36) Jonah also wrestles with the evil expected of him
by his mother and tries to do the right thing; feels
remorse for almost leaving Dan to die in China.
Hamilton wrestles with whether or not he wants to still
be part of Team Holt because the team wins by cheating.
He feels like a traitor to his family for choosing to do
what he knows is morally right. “What does it
(team Holt) mean anymore....beating up on little kids?”
He also learns more about himself, such as that he
could be quick thinking when needed.
in their own way is on a search to understand who they
really are. “Who am I?” (p. 105). Even Miss
Pluderbottom won’t sell out her integrity to Jonah.
in the past, much value in this book is what it does not
contain. Nellie, Amy and Dan must convince the pilot to
take them into the ocean and then to land on the Island.
But they do so without meanness, lying or manipulation.
It takes some of the kids longer than others to
overcome their narcissistic ways, in proportion to the
amount of abuse and lack of love each has suffered in
life. And adults are not discounted, with each also
learning hard lessons about their own love-less
Portrayal of Authority
figures: The positive portrayal of parents, teachers, police officers and other “good” authority figures common in a child’s life is a positive influence upon the child’s own moral development. This includes
actively-parenting mother and father figures. Minimization of parental involvement in the character’s activities or the portrayal of authority figures as
inferior present poor role models. Also to be avoided are main characters that
deceive parents and teachers to accomplish goals, and overuse
sarcasm towards authority figures. Ask yourself “Are parents seen as positive or negative influence in the character's life?”
There are very few
authority figures as the story is focused on our main
characters. Mr. Fiske and Mr. McIntyre are described as
stereotypical old bachelors which adds color to the
story. The Shakespeare house guide is exacting in
following the rules, as expected. And the parents of the
various Cahill branches continue to be the authority
figures in their family. Hierarchy remains, giving us
clear examples of its misuse by Isabel, Eisenhower, Cora
and Alastair, as well as its proper use by McIntyre,
Fiske and Nellie. Amy and Dan continue to succeed by
outsmarting others rather than lying, manipulating.
Patriotism: Loyalty to family, team or group, school, community and world; caring for and being considerate of these
groups. Pride to be part of that group or nationality.
Family loyalty is strong
from the first chapter. Amy and Dan are deflated,
overwhelmed by so many lies and twists, and are ready to
give up. But they know they must, as Amy thinks “What
did all those deaths mean if (Amy and Dan) didn’t keep
trying?” (p. 5). “We have to do this for Lester. For
mom and dad. For Grace. “ (p. 124) So our protagonists
continue to embrace their heritage and honor their
However, as the other
kids travel the journey of finding oneself, family
loyalty and pride are central to it as well. Through
Sinead’s self-talk, we hear glimpses of her concern for
her brothers’ well-being. Hamilton Holt questions what
it means to be part of the Team Holt. He wants to expand
the team to include Amy & Dan. Even Fiske misses his
sister Grace and acknowledges her strengths.
Thus, as each kid
searches for his or her identity, it is precisely their
loyalty to their family that complicates and confuses
them. Each is forced to choose between family identity
and the virtues such as Truth, Integrity and Love.
Ultimately they must form new family bonds with virtues
as the foundation.
Justice and Balance: A just distribution between good and evil (with
good outweighing evil in the presence of the storyline);
demonstration of right and wrong; making decisions to enact the above values rather than simply choosing from two bad possibilities; Ask yourself “Is the emphasis on the positive elements or negative?”
As the kids sort through
their experiences in search of their identity, the
distinction of good vs. evil becomes more demarked. Amy
& Dan remain focused on winning the clue hunt for the
purpose of preventing innocent people from being killed
by one of the others. They have to finish the hunt on
behalf of all the “ordinary people” who had been hurt by
Cahills. The Holts begin to realize that “It’s not
whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”
A touch of old-fashioned honor
enters the story when Amy realizes that Isabel will not
blindfold them before she kills them (p. 275). An act
that would have been expected in times of old when
chivalry was still alive. And later Amy honors her
parents and all those who have died by putting herself
in danger to stop another killing.
Aesthetic aspects Of
life ExperienceLook for a storyline portrayal of
beauty, health, and selfless love vs. hedonistic behaviours (sexuality, selfishness, obsessiveness, materialism),
profanity, gore and violence. Are nature and environment respected or exploited? Look for
dark elements; watch out for humor that is negative, denigrates others excessively, uses metaphors to
denigrate the sacred.
Ultimately Amy and Dan
find that the clue hunt is all about love and caring for
others, which isn’t possible without redemption. Thus,
from the onset, we feel the mixed emotions and ongoing
state of confusion. We see more selfless acts, either
by the kids remembering kindnesses they received in the
past or acts which occur in this story. Virtues of
belief, Hope and Love prevail.
Much of the action takes
place in a mountain, on the cliff and inside. The kids
feel distress over the killing that seems to come so
easily to the adult Cahill members, and so it is spoken
of repeatedly. Amy and Dan particularly feel the threat
of being killed by the other kids and their parents in
various situations. The depiction of explosions, falling
rocks, injuries, and being shot at is told with
sufficient detail that the reader can feel the intensity
of the moment. However, the actual scenes of violence
are fewer and do not dwell on unnecessary graphical
There is a missed
opportunity in the author’s writing to create the feel
of the time period when the kids investigate Shakespeare
and the Cahill/Madrigal past. The translation of Olivia
Cahill’s 16th century letter lacks the color
and realistic reference one would expect (e.g. refers to
the “next world” rather than Heaven, the latter of which
would have been realistic for England in that time
period). But what the book lacks in historical
perspective is greatly overcome by the author’s strength
in creating the emotional headiness of the current
Other things to
Consider:Other aspects of this book of interest or importance. For example, does it portray Wiccan practices and accurate use of tools of which some parents might object, does it contain
hidden meanings in metaphors that may prove offensive to some families; does it address
personal issues such as puberty or pregnancy.
The book is excellent
with no underlying agendas or concepts that would be
inappropriate for its intended age-level audience.
Parents with younger gifted readers should be aware of a
mob scene as well as a shooting, plus Amy and Dan
needing to worry about the others killing them.
It is an outstanding book
and highly recommended!
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