When Addison's aunt and uncle, both respected curators at the New York Museum of Archaeology, are kidnapped by the evil Russian Professor Ragar, Addison knows that he must save them. Ragar wants the Incan key that he has because it leads to an ancient treasure, and Addison figures that he can find the treasure while saving his aunt and uncle. He assembles his team (his sister Molly and friends Raj and Eddie), books a flight to Colombia, and sets off to save the day.
When the group lands in Colombia, they manage to make it to the small town where they think they will find the second key, and make the acquaintance of Guadalupe... who steals Addison's wallet! Later, she joins forces with them when they help her elude the police. In an adventure that takes them into Ecuador, deep into the jungle, to the wedding of a crime lord's daughter, and inside an Ecuadorian jail, Addison and his team manage to avoid going to school. But will they be able to locate the treasure and save his aunt and uncle, all while wearing their crisp school uniforms?
Strengths: I was not surprised to find that Mr. Stokes is a screenwriter; writers with this background are very good at making sure that books move along quickly. Even when Addison and Molly are coming home from school at the beginning of the book, they do it with panache. The information about the legendary Incan treasure and all of the travel details seem well researched. Lots of action, children saving he day, AND the promise of further adventures in China in the next book.
Weaknesses: I found that Addison's affectations (the crisp school uniform, drinking Arnold Palmers, singing an Astaire/Sinatra tune at a wedding) made the book seem much less realistic to me. Middle grade readers won't think that; they will just be slightly confused.
What I really think: Setting aside my personal objections, I think this will be a good fit for readers who like adventure books like Horowitz's Stormbreaker. Has a bit of a National Treasure feel to it as well. Since the 6th grade curriculum includes info on the Ancient Incas, this might be a bigger winner with my students than I suspect. I'm inclined to categorize this as realistic, if far-fetched, fiction.
336 pages 978-0399173776 Ages 8-12
Keywords: Ancient Civilizations
Recommended by: Karen Yingling, Library Media Specialist, Ohio USA