Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas: Addison Cooke, Book 1

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas: Addison Cooke, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Funny Indiana Jones-type adventure feels a bit dated.

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Kids say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Enthusiastic embrace of history and archaeology, particularly the ancient Incans and early explorers of South America, and message on importance of treating artifacts respectfully. A significant minus: factual errors (including misplacing the Amazon River and inaccurate depiction of the Incan empire's breadth) and perpetuation of distorted portrayals of Incan sites and Amazonian people.

Positive Messages

You can't always control what happens, but you can control how you feel about it and how you react. Being well-read helps prepare you to cope with real-world situations. Not all emotional wounds heal. In difficult situations, it's critical to not panic. Historical treasures should be respected, not collected. Strong message about teamwork and trust.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Addison is relentlessly optimistic: He's buoyed when things seem truly awful because they can't get worse. His extensive reading pays off in real-world situations. Molly is independent, clever, and fierce. Raj is eager to be challenged and enjoys working through tough situations. Eddie is less confident, but loyal to his friends and able to rise to the occasion when his help is needed. The children deceive adults to go on their adventure, but their intentions are good.

Violence & Scariness

Adults are kidnapped and children are framed for theft, villain and team of thugs pursue children and aim to kill them, children attend gathering of rival drug cartels, children fight with armed adults, characters are tied to a stake to be burned, authority figures give up children's safety for bribe, and lots of stories of historical violence including grisly executions and broken promises.


Instead of cursing, Addison substitutes the names of historical villains such as John Wilkes Booth and Benedict Arnold.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas is a rollicking adventure with throwback charm -- and culturally deaf stereotypes that spoil some of the fun. Screenwriter Jonathan W. Stokes' debut has a cinematic feel, with lots of changes in scenery and high-energy chase and fight scenes. The young adventures career from one perilous situation to another: They infiltrate a wedding attended by drug cartels, flee attacking headhunters, get involved in fist- and knife-fights, and narrowly escape death by drowning and fire. The plot peddles some tired exotic portrayals (the aforementioned headhunters, for example, and elaborate Incan booby traps) for the sake of a good yarn, but emphasizes that historical treasures shouldn't be swiped for personal collections. Addison's fondness for Arnold Palmers is presented much like an adult character's signature cocktail, and a parental figure smokes a pipe.

User Reviews

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Kid, 11 years old December 24, 2019

Exciting Adventure

Best book ever! Great characters and great story. I loved reading about the adventure the characters went on. Thumbs Up!
Teen, 13 years old Written byCherokeeAnita November 6, 2018

A Must Read

I am a bit skeptic when it comes to books but I when it comes to Jonathan Stoke's Addison Cooke series, I really recommend these books. I know that to some... Continue reading

What's the story?

ADDISON COOKE AND THE TREASURE OF THE INCAS introduces 12-year-old Addison, who shares his family's passion for archaeology, and his younger sister, Molly, who prefers soccer fields to the library. When their aunt and uncle are kidnapped by Ragar, a rival seeking legendary lost Incan riches, Addison convinces his sister and friends Raj and Eddie to join him on a rescue mission and treasure hunt in South America. Charming, fast-talking Addison gets his young team to Colombia, where they meet Guadalupe, a nimble-fingered thief  who guides them through the dangers of the Amazon and into Peru in a race to beat Ragar to the treasure and evade headhunters, drug lords, and Ragar's team of brutes.

Is it any good?

Twelve-year-old Addison Cooke is an appealing new hero for aspiring explorers and world travelers, following in the well-worn footsteps of Indiana Jones and other swashbuckling adventurers. Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas has a warm familiarity and a wonderful cinematic appeal -- not surprising, given author Jonathan W. Stokes' background as a screenwriter.

Stokes' young cast is well developed, if a bit eccentric, and the adventure scenes are wonderfully paced. The plot defies plausibility -- four tweens traveling through the jungle in South America on their own? -- but it's all in good fun. Unfortunately, some of the laughs fall flat as Stokes turns to tired clichés that may not sit so comfortably with modern readers, including elaborately booby-trapped ancient sites, an Amazon with swarming headhunters, and an Asian boy preoccupied with his parents' approval and his academic future.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the blending of history and legend in Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Lost Incas. Do you find it fun, confusing, or inspiring to have fact and fiction so entwined?

  • How does each of Addison's companions bring curiosity and perseverance to help the entire team?

  • Watch documentaries or find stories about archaeologists and their work. How does the reality of archaeology compare with the way the field is portrayed in this book and other adventure stories?

Book details

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For kids who love adventure

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