When I saw this I thought it would be great to read with my boys, after all it has a ship and an ultimate treasure quest!
I gave this book a rating of 3 stars.
After claiming his father's abandoned ship, young Christopher finds himself prematurely as the new Captain. His first mate stumbles upon group of orphaned castaways from all over the world who quickly befriend Christopher and join in his quest to find his missing parents by following the clues from the magical Ultimate Treasure Chest.
The quest leads them from 18th century England through the Bermuda Triangle where they pass through an eerie green fog and mysteriously arrive in modern day Peru. The misfit group travels around the beautiful country and talk to the local people, learning about their way of life and the struggles they are facing. It is their job to not only follow the map but to use their unique talents individually and as a group to help the communities they pass along the way; all the while trying to avoid a relentless band of pirates and a corrupt businessman.
This book had so much potential. The story idea was fun and interesting. There was plenty of action and adventure. It was a unique twist on Time travel, taking the characters from the past to the present instead of to the past or some fictitious future. The author shared her knowledge of geology, history, and geography throughout the story and developed some great teaching moments. It even had a feel of a virtual vacation to amazing landmarks in the country. My biggest issue with the story, is the delivery.
Some of the teaching moments felt forced and not an essential part of the story. The rhymes in the clues seemed to spell out exactly what the author wanted the reader to learn instead of letting them naturally find the answer through the reading. I found some of the description lacking and was confused as to who the target audience was supposed to be. There is a wide array of character ages and the content of the story seems somewhat advanced yet it is written very simply with very stereotypical dialogue. I felt that the story could have been more fully developed and been an excellent read. I can usually dive right into a book with themes like this one and fly right through it, but I had a hard time staying focused while I was reading. I started reading this book out loud to my two boys (8 & 10), but they lost interest after the first few chapters and I finished reading it on my own.
I learned a lot about the ecological and environmental issues facing Peru, and I have a renewed appreciation for the rain forest and the industrial issues that affect not only the flora and fauna of the beautiful country but the people and communities who call it their home. I also learned more about gemstones than I had ever had an interest in doing before. Using the gem coins as power sources was an interesting way to tie in yet another educational factor to the story.