What You Need to Know:|
• The Maze of Bones is the first in The 39 Clues series and should appeal to both boys and girls.
• There are 10 books in all and they are written by seven different authors.
• While no one is actually killed, there is some violence and people do get injured.
• Readers are encouraged to collect The 39 Clues cards and play the game online. The first ten clues are provided
in the books, however kids need to go online for the other 29 clues.
• The main characters' parents were killed in a fire, years earlier. They have little memory of their parents.
• Available April 2011, an 11th book, Vespers Rising, prepares readers for the second series, Cahills vs. Vespers which
will launch in August 2011. The first book in this series will be The Medusa Plot.
Sweet Series Background:|
The Cahill family isn’t just rich. According to Grace Cahill, “The Cahills have had a greater impact on human civilization than any other family in history.” They’ve had money and power for generations but the family is divided and their future is uncertain. When Grace dies, she sets a course of events into action, from which there is no turning back. She gives her relatives a difficult choice - they can walk away with millions in inheritance money or they can accept a mysterious challenge. Seven teams, including Amy and Dan Cahill, choose to give up the millions and go for the challenge. They must solve 39 clues in order to become the most powerful people in the world. There will only be one winning team. Let the adventure begin!
The Maze of Bones introduces readers to the Cahill family. It also introduces them to the multimedia marketing efforts surrounding the series. There are trading cards, online games, prizes, chat rooms, bonus books and, most likely, there will be a movie. The series has garnered enormous attention both from individuals and the media. So why is it such a success? In addition to the high profile authors involved, I think it’s because every single detail of this story has been thought through with readers in mind. In the spirit of giving the people what they want, this book is filled with adventure, gadgets, fart jokes, pop culture, and more. To satisfy parents and teachers, they’ve included the historical element. Brilliant!
So, who are Amy and Dan Cahill? They’re members of one of the wealthiest families in the world, although they have reaped few benefits other than spending time with their fascinating grandmother, Grace Cahill. Their parents were killed in a fire years ago and now they live with their miserly Aunt Beatrice and their au pair, Nellie. When Grace dies and they choose her challenge, rather than two million dollars, they set off on the adventure of a lifetime. Along with six other teams of relatives, they begin the search for the 39 clues. They enlist Nellie as their chaperone and begin a journey that closely follows the life of Benjamin Franklin, who was also, apparently, a Cahill. His life story and many inventions are woven throughout the book. In order to understand each clue, Amy and Dan use the library, a black light reader, one case of breaking and entering, and a few math skills. Their biggest problem is their scheming family. Their cousins/rivals seem to be targeting them, as Grace's favorites, hoping to "eliminate" them from the competition. Many clues, several cities, some exploding bombs and a few poison darts later, they discover something about family, history and even themselves.
Readers will relate to Amy and Dan, whose strengths and weaknesses – Amy (14) is book smart but painfully shy and insecure, while Dan (11) is great with numbers but kind of a goof ball - are somewhat stereotypical. Other characters, like the poser music celebrity or the the over-the-top, arrogant cousins, will also feel familiar to anyone who has experienced recent pop culture. While readers may identify with the characters, they will probably envy the freedom that Amy and Dan have to travel the world and make their own decisions. Reluctant readers, who don't like to spend too long with a book, will find satisfaction quickly, as each chapter delivers some exciting scenes and a bit of resolution at the end. A string of mildly scary moments and intriguing clues to solve, keep the pages turning quickly. This book is a fast and entertaining read - The Da Vinci Code for kids - but there is definitely a "commercial" aspect to it.
2008, 220 pages
Adventure, Books for Boys, Character/Values, History, Mystery, Overcoming Fears, Self-Awareness/Discovery, Siblings, Teamwork
• Would you have taken the money or the challenge?
• What famous person from history would you most like to meet?
• Why do all of the other relatives feel the way they do about Dan and Amy?
• Do you think that Grace did the right thing when she changed her will and launched the challenge?
• Why do you think Grace gave Dan and Amy so little information about their past?
• Does the online aspect of the book, add to or detract from the experience?
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