The 39 Clues book 1: The maze of bones - Review
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Riordan, Rick. (2008) The 39 clues book 1: The maze
of bones. ISBN-10: 0545060397.
“Minutes before she died, Grace Cahill changed her
will, leaving her descendants an impossible decision:
"You have a choice — one million dollars or a clue."
Grace is the last matriarch of the Cahills, the world's
most powerful family. Everyone from Napoleon to Houdini
is related to the Cahills, yet the source of the family
power is lost. 39 clues hidden around the world stand to
reveal the family's secret, but no one has been able to
assemble them. Now the clues race is on, and young Amy
and Dan must decide what's important: hunting clues or
uncovering what really happened to their parents.”
young, William lamented. “If only their parents--”. “But
their parents didn’t.” Grace said bitterly. “And now the
children must be old enough. They are our only chance.”
“If they don’t succeed...”
“Then five hundred years of work have been for nothing”
Grace said. “Everything collapses. The family, the
world--all of it.” (p. 2)
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.
Scholastic originally listed this as grades 4-7, ages
9-12. Litland.com finds it acceptable to gifted younger
readers and fun even for older readers.
Amy and Dan exemplify many of these qualities. They show
compassion to competing teams and try to choose
solutions that do not cause harm to others, even when
those characters are threatening them. Amy and Dan have
moments reserving criticism of the other and apologize
when they fear they have made a mistake.
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?”
Honest people in positions of
authority are presented as competent. Police rescue Amy
and Dan at the St.-Pierre de Montmartre and no
disrespect is shown. Amy and Dan are polite to adults
even when knowing those adults engage in lying or
Citizenship and 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.
This book series is all about family pride. Dan strives
to make his deceased mother proud by his behaviour: “I
won’t let you down mom.” (ch. 15, p. 181) and nearly
risks his life to preserve family artifacts. Both
children were their grandmother’s (Grace) favorites and
this is emphasized by regular reflections upon their
time spent with Grace (e.g. p. 34 & 35). Amy and Dan’s
loyalty to one another, their parents and grandmother is
a primary theme throughout the book.
The storyline of the book focuses on Benjamin Franklin
and his many inventions as well as honorable leadership;
thus pride as an American is an underlying theme.
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?”
Fair competition and collaboration are also underlying
themes in this story. Probably this story’s greatest
strength is that Amy and Dan create their advantage over
competing teams by maintaining their integrity and
exhibiting classic virtues of courage, trust, and
caring. This leads to them innovating creative solutions
to their problems and becomes their strength.
Aesthetic Aspects of Life Experience:Look 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.
As they experience the world’s geography and historic
sites in search of clues, those sites, important moments
in history, and important people in history are
described in interesting detail adding intrigue and
beauty to the story. In doing so, they are treated with
respect and awe by the author rather than as objects to
be denigrated or made fun of.
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.
No questionable or controversial elements. It is
fantastic in every way!
So what do YOU think? Read our thoughts on the book and join in the discussion on our