Monday, July 9, 2012

Book Review: Missing on Superstition Mountain



Elise Broach has given us another delightful novel in which contemporary kids attempt to unravel a historical mystery; this one set in the American west. In Missing on Superstition Mountain, the first book in a planned trilogy, the Barker brothers--Simon, Henry, and Jack--move to the desert town of Superstition, Arizona with their parents, after inheriting a house from wild, adventurous Uncle Hank. The boys have been warned that they must NEVER go up on Superstition Mountain. But when their cat, Josie, runs away,  that’s exactly what they do. It’s scary up there--there might be snakes and mountain lions, and Henry can’t shake the feeling that they’re being watched. When little Jack tumbles into the canyon, Simon and Henry are afraid they’ve gotten in over their heads. They climb down and find, to their relief, that Jack is all right. But they also make a horrifying discovery: lined up in a neat row at the edge of the ledge are three human skulls.

The brothers climb off the ledge and, after wandering, lost for some time, make it safely home. A few days later, they find their cat held hostage in the home of freckled, pigtailed Delilah, who is also new to town. Although the boys don’t like Delilah at first, she proves to be useful, and the four of them team up to find out just what the adults aren’t telling them. Is there really a lost gold mine? Do the strange occurrences on Superstition Mountain have a rational explanation, or is something supernatural at work? And what, if anything, does it have to do with Uncle Hank?

Disaster strikes when the children return to the canyon a second time. All is well in the end, but the book's main mystery remains unsolved, to be continued in the remaining two books in the trilogy. Missing on Superstition Mountain is a fun mystery with likeable characters. Antonio Javier Caparo's soft pencil illustrations beautifully depict the characters' personalities. I recommend this book for young readers who won't be too freaked out by the thought of bones, skulls, or mentions of death by shooting and decapitation (alluded to, but not described in grisly detail).

Superstition, Arizona is a fictitious town, but the Superstition Mountains are real--they are located less than an hour east of Phoenix. The Weaver's Needle, a rock formation mentioned in the book, is a thousand-foot rock column that is visible for miles around. As the book suggests, it is a rough and dangerous area. Sadly, the Superstition Mountains claimed the life of a hiker just this past week.

9 comments:

Andrea Mack said...

How funny that I'm highlighting Elise Broach on my blog today too - Masterpiece.

I haven't read this one, but it sounds like a great mystery!

Barbara Watson said...

I love a MG mystery! Thank you for sharing this one.

My parents used to have a second home in the Phoenix area, so I know well the area you speak of. So sorry to hear about the hiker...

Ms. Yingling said...

I've added this to my TBR pile. I liked her one about Shakespeare.

Mirka Breen said...

Fantastic premise. I'm getting this one.

Ruth Schiffmann said...

Wow, this sounds like a great adventure. Thanks for the review!

I gave you an award on my blog today =)

Ruth Donnelly said...

Andrea, I haven't read Masterpiece yet, but I intend to!

Barbara- I was sorry to hear about that, too. It was sobering when I googled Missing on Superstition Mountain and that news report came up.

Ms Yingling- I also enjoyed Shakespeare's Secret; it was the first Elise Broach book I read.

Mirka- if you like this one, I just found out the next one is titled Treasure on Superstition Mountain. It comes out in February 2013.

Ruth- Cool! Thanks for the award! I'll head over to your blog. :)

Liz Straw said...

I loved this book. My book reviews don't look as purty as your's do. :)

Books4Learning said...

Sounds like an exciting book. Thanks for sharing. I will check to see if my library has it. My son might enjoy it.

Ruth Donnelly said...

Liz-- LOL. I think your whole blog is purty. The water image is so soothing. :)

Books4Learning-- I hope your son likes it!