Monday, February 10, 2014
The Secret Box by Whitaker Ringwald
Welcome to Middle Grade Monday! Today I have a review of the upcoming middle grade release- The Secret Box by Whitaker Ringwald. It will hit shelves on 2/25/14.
On her twelfth birthday, Jax Malone receives a strange gift from her Great Aunt Juniper. Jax has never even heard of her aunt, and when she asks her mom, her mother confiscates the present. More determined than ever to figure out what's going on, Jax steals the present back and discovers a strange box inside. The box will not open, and when she tries, the box has a digital screen that tells her she only has 10 chances to get it right. It also gives her a clue as to where the box will open.
The adventure is on. Jax, her friend Ethan, and his big brother Tyler attempt to find the secret location where the box needs to be opened. On their quest, people begin hunting them, wanting the box. They also discover that Jax's Aunt Juniper has been kidnapped. Trying to rescue her, Jax discovers some deep dark family secrets and the truth behind what's in the box, and it isn't pretty.
This is a great, original adventure for kids. The mystery grabs the reader right at the beginning and then just keeps going. Plus, more mysteries keep popping up. The idea that Jax has an aunt that the family has kept secret is the first inkling that something is wrong, and then the box that won't open adds an adventurous twist.
The story bounces back and forth between Jax and Ethan's POV. Ethan is a fact machine who offers up little known information at the beginning of each of his chapters. He is a fun character, but I found myself mainly interested in Jax. Her family secrets are just too interesting.
The story itself grows into a mythology lesson as the old world hides more secrets that Jax needs to uncover. So, the secrets of the box are more of a fantasy element that add a great paranormal twist to the story. It reminded me a little of the 39 clues books. Kids will enjoy the read and the ending gives off the hint that there may be more books to follow. 4 stars!