39 Clues Book 5: The Black Circle - Review
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Carman, Patrick. (2009) The 39 Clues Book 5: The
Black Circle. ISBN-10: 0545060451
“Where are Amy and Dan Cahill? The two kids were last
seen in Egypt, hunting for one of the 39 Clues that
could make them the most powerful people on earth. But
no one has seen the siblings since. Has the ruthless
Irina Spasky finally tracked them down? Or worse . . .
the Madrigals? No one knows where the Clue hunt leads
next. But one thing is certain: Book 5 is gearing up to
be Dan and Amy's most dangerous adventure yet.”
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.
Mixed in with normal sibling bantering (such as “you’ve
achieved total dweebdom in that get up”) are regular
elements of caring, remorse/apology, and loyalty. Amy
apologizes to Dan when talking down to him, and both
compliment one another for their quick thinking. When
considering the history behind The Motherland Calls
monument, both Amy & Dan can relate to their plight,
showing empathy. Pride is implied when Dan discovers Amy
conquers her fears.
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?”
Police portrayed in the background adequately
performing their duties (such as controlling a ruckus p.
33). There is an enjoyable scene in which Amy & Dan
trick the tour guide several times (p. 90-93) but do so
by being quick and cunning. No disrespectful language or
attitude is portrayed, no property damaged or laws
broken in doing so. Amy feels guilt for not keeping in
touch with au pair Nellie.
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 bonds and loyalty with Amy & Dan are
introduced early in the story, such as when they use
Grace’s name as if she were still alive (p. 5). Dan
becomes protective, not “going to let Ian Kabra get
anywhere near his sister”. Added to this is a new
dimension: more self-talk of Hamilton Holt’s desire to
please his dad. For all their faults, the Holts are
loyal to one another.
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?”
Good and evil are clearly contrasted throughout
the story. For example, while Dan rents a motorcycle,
the Holts hot-wire (steal) a van.
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.
Chapter 5 (p. A) makes quick reference again to
the “angry mob of monks” of Book 2 but otherwise does
not use any language placing judgement on sacred or
religious characters. Both the purpose of the Motherland
Calls monument and its majesty are well respected. This
book has rich description of Russian history and myth,
as well as physical locations experienced by Amy and
Dan. Irina continues to pose a risk, and the author
carefully words this as “taking them out” without need
for unnecessary violent detail. Both “bad guys” Irina
and Ian show concern and judgment, choosing “not to hurt
them too badly”.
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 items of interest to note. The book is an
exciting action-adventure colored with modern Russian
myths that add to its intrigue!
So what do YOU think? Read our thoughts on the book and join in the discussion
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