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Summary: The Hilton Park Detective Club in New Market, Virginia, was eagerly awaiting a package. Randy and his friends pooled their money to buy a police scanner, because if they didn't know about crime, how could they be detectives? Just as they were heading out for a camping trip and some cave exploring, the boys heard that the local bank had been robbed and that the theives were on the loose. Undeterred, the boys went on their trip, only to discover the stolen money in the cave! They helped solve the crime, but were they the real heroes? This adventure for teens offers life lessons.
Type of Reading: family reading, independent reading, read aloud book, remedial reader
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 10 and up
Young Reader Reaction: This book has various commendable areas and flaws. The encounter with the bank robber is well written. The author created challenging problems for the boys to solve while in the cave. This series of problems (and their resolution) made the story captivating to the reader. An important lesson that one could draw from reading this book is that intelligence allows the weak to triumph over the strong. The "flaw" is the slow development of events in the earlier sections. I like an adventure story that places most of its emphasis on the adventure, not on events that lead up to it. I would recommend this book to children from 6 to 14 years of age. Younger readers who crave for adventure could also read it with an adult.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a quick read. The story is fast-paced and fun to read. The author did a fantastic job weaving a story about a Sunday school lesson with solving a bank robbery ... not your normal combination of themes.
Pros: A modern day Hardy Boys. This wholesome adventure offers pre-teens a story with characters they can relate to and realistic choices. The story is perfect for kids who don't like reading, but do like good stories.
Borrow or Buy: Buy! Like the other adventures in Anderson's series, this is one that kids will read over and over again.
Educational Themes: There are several themes in the book: compassion, judging others, empathy, and friendship. Christian teens will find the Sunday school lesson a particularly good discussion starter. The book also presents the question: what is a hero?
Literary Categories: Fiction - adventure, mystery, crime, middle grade, Christian