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For Readers Age 9 - 12
Grades 4th - 8th

The 39 Clues Book 6: In Too Deep - Review
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Publisher's Summary:

Watson, Jude. (2009) The 39 Clues Book 6: In Too Deep ISBN-10: 054506046X

“A hint from their parents' past puts Amy and Dan on the trail of secrets their grandmother Grace would never have wanted them to know. Awful memories begin to crowd in on Amy, just as her enemies circle closer. How far would she go to protect Dan? How much of a Cahill is she prepared to be? Perhaps Grace was right; some secrets are better left buried.”

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.

Integrity continues to run high in this book of the series. Although it primarily set upon the experiences of Amy, the self-talk realistically demonstrates overcoming doubts of her own part in parent’s demise. She wrestles with how and when to tell the truth to Dan, and readily apologizes to him. Time and time again there are opportunities for Dan and Amy to act unkind, uncaring, selfishly, or manipulate those around them. However, the author keeps them on the “high road”, succeeding with realistic yet virtuous behaviour. 

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?”

Authority figures are few in this story, primarily comprised of their dad’s lost cousin Shep and his “mates”. Each is treated with respect and concern for their well being as Amy and Dan begin to realize the seriousness of their adventure. These “mates” and Shep act as heroes in a protective role, and do so successfully without inappropriate violence or other behaviors. Other than Dan’s line early on “Let’s go kick some little-old-lady butt”, no disrespect or inappropriate sarcasm is demonstrated.

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.

Amy & Dan’s relationship is stressed to the breaking point but honesty, respect of self and other, and integrity result in their bonds being tighter than ever. They continue to demonstrate faith in their beloved family members (such as reflecting upon their family as “a house with four people who loved each other”, p. 159) and acknowledge those cousins in whom they may have not trust but for whom they still have affection.

Perhaps most prominent in this book is how Amy and Dan mature in their sense of responsibility to the world as a Cahilll.

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 characters versus evil characters become more clear in this book of the series. However, Dan and Amy also begin to see that even people previously considered evil or bad can demonstrate good. Amy and Dan make good decisions over bad ones throughout the book. Good always prevails, and this is accomplished by good decisions not by stealing, deceit or manipulation of well-meaning authorities, or other wrong actions.

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.

The aesthetic aspects of the physical experience (i.e. the physical beauty of Australia) were present but minimized in this book as the focus was on the emotions of the main characters. However, no dark elements or hedonistic behaviours were expressed.

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 possibility of a romance between Amy and Ian rekindles but is realistically and appropriately explored as the emotional quandary it creates in Amy. Amelia Earhart is well highlighted objectively without hidden agendas or feminism themes threaded into the story.

So what do YOU think? Read our thoughts on the book and join in the discussion on the blog!:

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