James Patterson, Chris Graberstein, and Mark Shulman
Juliana Neufeld (Illustrator)
Little Brown, 2013 451 pgs.
Bick and his three siblings have an unusual life. Their parents are renowned archaeologists and professional treasure hunters. The family lives on a boat and travels the world diving for lost treasure. The kids are home schooled and all have special talents that they use to help their parents on their missions. Tragedy strikes as first Mom disappears in Greece and then Dad falls off the boat during a storm and is presumed dead. The four kids chose to continue the assignment Dad was working on, if only they can figure it out. As they untangle the cryptic clues left behind by their father, the siblings encounter one dangerous situation after another, from scary underworld figures to sea pirates. Not knowing who to trust and trying to survive as young people in an adult world, brains, guts and ingenuity are all put to the test. As they travel the seas from the tropics to New York City, the siblings learn secrets about their parents and the true nature of their work. At book's end the treasure is put into the proper hands, the bad guys are uncovered, and a glimmer of hope that their parents are still alive leads the kids to their next adventure: Danger Down the Nile (2014).
James Patterson is a genius. He knows what it takes to make adults, teens, and kids flip pages and never seems to run out of ideas. He is also generous enough to give credit and a career start to the co-authors, who help him bring his many stories to life. Treasure Hunters is a reluctant reader's delight. It is generously illustrated with comic-style pictures, meant to have been contributed by Bick's twin sister Beck. The chapters are short, the margins are generous, the type is big, and much of the book is written in dialog, making it read quickly. The book is long (451 pages), yet reads so quickly that it doesn't seem long, and will make unsure readers feel proud of themselves when they finish. The action never stops and surprises are around every bend. The mystery aspect will keep kids guessing and encourage them to think as they read. There is also a lot of humor, reminding me of Buckley's N.E.R.D.S.series. The concept is also very cool. What kid (or adult for that matter) wouldn't love to live on a boat treasure hunting instead of going to school? The characters are one-dimensional and under-developed, but who cares? Its not that kind of a book. Its a book that kids will eat up with a spoon, especially appealing to boys. My library's copy, only a year old, is already stained with a cracked spine. A perfect book for a cold winter day, fasten your seat belt and escape with the Kidd family to warm, shark infested waters and be prepared for a wild ride!