Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Greetings from Somewhere, Book 4 - The Mystery in the Forbidden City

Those ever-curious twins, Ethan and Ella, now find themselves in China, as their parents continue taking them on a world tour to allow their mother to write her travelogue.  Author Harper Paris opens the world of China to the twins (as well as readers) by taking a look at Beijing, one of China's popular tourist destinations.

Despite how simplistic the writing and stories are, these books for young readers are actually quite enjoyable (even if it takes less than 15 minutes to read them).  Paris captures the innocence and curiosity of second-graders with Ethan and Ella, and the awe and wonder that any 8-year old would have when visiting such magnificent cities as Venice, Paris, or Beijing.  Of course, the kids do act a bit older than they probably should when they get separated from their parents and neither one of them seem very worried (as they are more interested in solving the latest mystery that their grandfather has sent them) - but, that can be overlooked for the sake of simply enjoying the book.  After all, this is fiction.

The quest that the kids' grandfather sends them on is to find the three dragons, located somewhere within the mysterious Forbidden City, the former home of the great emperors.  The only clue provided is that the dragons could be found near the old pine tree.  Needless to say, Ethan and Ella are overjoyed at the chance to solve another "mystery" - but that mystery gets bigger when they stumble upon an old map they find on the floor.  They use the map as a means to try and locate the old pine tree, but somehow get separated from their parents and lost among the many trails and buildings within the Forbidden City.  They ultimately find the old pine tree, they find the three dragons, and they find that the old map they discovered is actually older than they thought and is a treasure that was to be placed on display in the Forbidden City.

Marcos Calo once again provides not only the cover art, but all of the interior illustrations. Since this is a young reader's book, the interior illustrations are numerous, pretty much every other page, and in some instances, spread across two pages.

I'm still disappointed that I never had this series when I was in first and second grade; however, it's great to know it's out there now for young readers as a stepping stone into the wonderful world of reading!

RATING:  9 fried scorpions out of 10 for providing kids with an easy to read mystery that is also educational and fun!

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