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Summary: No way! Did that alligator just smile at us? Once again, Cynthia and Gus find themselves in a new place, a different time, and quite a predicament. It's 1914 and they are swimming with a gator in the Louisiana swamp. That was the year Beau Connor (Cynthia's great-grandfather) disappeared. The girls must rely on their own instincts, whispered voices in the trees, and the help of a few old friends to help them get past Pirate Jack LeBuse and solve Beau Connor's disappearance. This is the third title of this time-travel series about the adventures of two friends.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, anytime reading, family reading, read aloud book, middle grade reader
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 10 and up
Young Reader Reaction: Cynthia’s Attic: Curse of the Bayou is a bundle of adventure, humor, personality, fantasy, history, and originality. The two main characters, Cynthia and Gus, are the ultimate dynamic duo, familiar to the audience through their appearance in previous books in the series, and here they embark on a mission once again. They are each very authentic and true to their own selves, making the adventure all the more candid and straightforward. The past that they enter is enhanced by an array of imaginative creatures and mythical secrets. The plot is fast-paced and exhilarating from the very start, where the characters already find themselves in their foreign environment. It meanders through different settings, different dangers, and different confrontations. This book is simply designed to be an entertaining and easy-to-read adventure story for young adults from ages 9 to 12.
Adult Reader Reaction: Curse of the Bayou is the most action-filled adventure of the series so far. While that makes for fast reading, you need a scorecard to keep up with the characters. About mid-books, we are re-acquainted with two characters from The Magic Medallion. It seemed like too much time had passed for me to remember how they fit together with the story (even with the author's brief explanation). I am intrigued by the direction the next book will take, as one of the "historical" characters travels through the trunk with Gus.
Pros: Middle-grade readers will love this fast-moving fantasy adventure filled with the kinds of things they love: magic, pirates, suspense, and humor.
Cons: Cynthia's family and the role players grow and tag along with each volume. Now that we've got three complete volumes, it may be useful to put together a family tree and some biographies.
Borrow or Buy: This could go either way. It is definitely worth borrowing for adventure lovers and reluctant readers alike. If you're going to buy, you will want all three titles, because reading the previous book is a big help.
Educational Themes: The emphasis of this book is on engaging readers in a good story. That said, this would make for a fun place to start in researching mysticism, bayou life (from the 1840s through early 1900s), culture, and language.
Literary Categories: Fiction - fantasy, adventure, series book
Date(s) Reviewed: March 2008
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