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In 1999, 53 percent of children ages 3 to 5 were read to daily by a family member, the same as in 1993 after increasin... More

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Author: Amy Gordon

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Publisher: Holiday House,

Material: Galley

Summary: Aiden Farmer isn't happy. She would actually like to go back to being "Farmer Girl," than hear it as the slur her classmates mean it to be. But going home isn't an option. Since her Dad's death, her mom has had a hard time making ends meet, so now they're living in Uncle Tony's cramped apartment because Mom could get a job. The only good thing thing that Gloria has going for it is a decades old treasure hunt. If Aiden can find those 20 Gold Falcons, she and her mom would be rich and, more importantly to Aiden, she can go home to her farm. This is a middle-grade mystery set in modern times with an historic premise.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 10 to 13

Interest Level: 9 and up

Reading Level: 4.6

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: The ending is a bit predictable, but the story on the whole is a page-turner with plenty of surprises. Aiden, Adam, and her cousin are fun, sympathetic characters. For the most part, the relationships with adults are normal and do not fit the oft-seen parent-is-stupid model. I also loved that Aiden's cousins lived in a treehouse.

Pros: This fast-paced story will keep young readers asking for more.

Cons: I found the teacher's attitude (particularly in calling Aiden "Farmer Girl," inappropriate and distasteful. It was quite the contrast with other adults in the story. Although there are other characters, the majority of them are family ... and big families. Dormant or reluctant readers could get confused by the number of character references. It would help dormant readers to see a family tree to help visually sort the characters.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a wonderful read. It has the feel of a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys book in its wholesomeness, but it is a lot more sophisticated than those.


Educational Themes: This is largely a book for pleasure reading. That said, there are several themes, including dealing with the death of a parent, change, friendship/relationships, and honor.

Notes: The Reading Tub® picked up an Advance Reviewer Copy (ARC) of this book at Book Expo America. There are no expectations of review associated with this book.

Literary Categories: Fiction - mystery, death and loss, family, middle grade

Date(s) Reviewed: April 2011

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