39 Clues Book 7: The Viper's Nest - Review
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Lerangis, Peter. (2010) The 39 Clues Book 7: The
Viper’s Nest. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc. ISBN
“It's no longer a game. The body count is rising.
Shaken by recent events, Amy and Dan flee to an exotic
land and trace the footsteps of their most formidable
ancestor yet: a military leader of mythic proportions.
Yet just as the siblings begin to master the art of
ancient warfare, they confront a dangerous enemy that
can't be felled with a sword: the truth. With the stakes
higher than ever, Amy and Dan uncover a devastating
secret that changes everything.”
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.
Healthy sibling rivalry like “I’m the one who thought of
it” continues to make Amy and Dan’s characters real to
us, while their adventures continue to fulfill the
reader’s dreams! Amy wrestles early on with her memories
of the fire that killed their parents, and her mixed
feelings towards Uncle Alastair derived from it. The
resulting conversation is realistic while also
demonstrating how children should deal with such mixed
emotions: honestly and openly. Amy struggles with desire
for retribution because her innate understanding that
retribution is cold and careless creates the inner
struggle. Ultimately, our favorite brother & sister team
continue to make wise choices that take into
consideration the consequences to others, as well as
feel remorse for mistakes made.
Dan particularly shows compassion when learning about
apartheid and towards South Africans whom he meets.
In the end, Amy is concerned about taking what isn’t
theirs; “But the hunt was about knowledge, not
possession.” (p. 167) She intentionally puts wheels into
motion that create an opportunity for villains to do a
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?”
The author creates adventures which rely upon Amy
and Dan’s skills and instincts, rather than manipulating
or mistreating others including authority figures.
Respect is shown towards each adult met along the way.
The siblings show dignity through strength in dealing
with adult villains.
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.
From the beginning, the book establishes Amy and
Dan’s loyalty to their Grandmother as the impetus to
joining the hunt. Early on, their “mind meld”
communications show their closeness to one another. This
family, consisting of Amy, Dan, and their deceased
parents and grandmother are definitely a team. Implied
in dialogue and description is family pride and love.
This is contrasted well by the lack of these qualities
in the families of their competitors, particularly the
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 we have come to expect in this series, the
good guys always win and the bad guys lose! No matter
which family member tries to capture, kidnap, arrest or
otherwise divert Amy & Dan, they end confounded through
a combination of the sibling’s quick thinking and sheer
luck. And statements such as Dan’s “Mom and Dad would be
proud of you. They valued life.” reaffirm without
question the difference between good and evil. Even if
wrestling with a choice to make, it is clear why
decisions made by protagonists are for the good.
As we progress through this series, the reader comes to
realize that good and evil are not clan-specific; one
Cahill branch is not better nor worse than the other.
Each holds elements of both; Amy and Dan must go beyond
stereotyping by clan and understand its people to
distinguish the good from the evil.
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.
Focused on dialogue, we didn’t hear too much
description of the beautiful African terrain or city
life. However, the author captured well some of the life
on the outskirts of Durban. With that said, the book’s
dialogue is once again full of African details and facts
that should intrigue its readers to research on their
Discussion of racism in both South Africa and the US
handles history respectfully while identifying the
wrongs of racism.
The main characters continue to exhibit classic virtues
of heroism and sincere concern for others. Action scenes
are exciting without being cluttered by unnecessary gore
Overall, use of African language and inclusion of its
“ways” gives the story a cultural feel without bogging
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.
Use of God’s name p. 7. 42, 156, 165, 176. On p.
174, Amy says to Isabel Kabra “you can shove it”.
Otherwise, the story retains its positive attitude and
heroic virtues consistently throughout. As young
teenagers, Ian Kabra is still exhibiting attraction to
Amy and it continues to be addressed appropriately
through the confused feelings it created in him.
Similarly for Amy’s attraction to Kurt in the mine.
Overall, this is again an excellent story from author
Peter Lerangis, further cultivating the character
formation of our series’ heroes. Highly recommended!
So what do YOU think? Read our thoughts on the book and join in the discussion on the
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