A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Forbidden Stone is the first in the planned 12-book Copernicus Legacy series for tween readers that follows four tweens around the world to safeguard artifacts against an ancient and evil criminal organization. Criminals chase the kids and one adult through major cities in Europe and beyond, wielding guns and a crossbow. One kid gets a minor injury, but some characters around them are killed or kidnapped, or they disappear mysteriously. Getting to the artifacts the characters need involves solving a series of puzzles as they travel; young readers can figure out the puzzles while they take in some European history and facts about early scientific devices and discoveries.
What's the story?
Wade and his stepbrother Darrell are hanging out at the University of Texas observatory waiting for their dad/stepdad, professor Roald Kaplan, when a strange coded message pops up on the lab computer. Wade can't help but look at the email address; it's from Dr. Kaplan's old teacher, Dr. Heinrich Vogel, in Germany. Some serious word sleuthing reveals quite a riddle about protecting the \"Magisters Legacy\" and finding \"the twelve relics.\" What could it mean? Dr. Kaplan calls his teacher in Germany to find out, only to discover that he's dead, the funeral planned for the next day. The stars seem to align when Wade's cousin Lily and her friend Becca come to stay unexpectedly -- Lily's mom got the flu and canceled their trip to Paris. Somehow Lily talks Dr. Kaplan into transferring the unused tickets and taking them all to the funeral in Berlin. But do the stars align in their favor? Heinrich's housekeeper insists he was murdered, and big black SUVs full of thugs show up at the cemetery. A little more sleuthing reveals more about Heinrich's riddle and exactly what the 12 relics may be, which puts them all in much more danger.
Is it any good?
There's a whole lot going on in THE FORBIDDEN STONE, even just to set up the story. How do you get a professor, his son, his stepson, his niece, and their brainy friend who luckily knows a handful of languages all on a plane to Berlin to begin with? And then how do you keep them going when things get really dangerous? The professor's efforts to whisk them to safety seem half-hearted. And how do you take some pretty complex puzzles and make just the right string of conclusions the first time, every time? (Every once in a while you need a red herring.) Also, while we're at it, how would a fencing school race the kids to safety with exactly the equipment they needed immediately on-hand -- such as military-grade encrypted phones -- to keep the organization of supervillains off their trail?
Everything has to click into place too conveniently to keep such a complex story moving. But does The Forbidden Stone need to be that complex right out of the gate? The next 11 books planned for the series offer plenty of pages to build on. Despite some plotting issues, kids who love mystery, travel, word puzzles, and scientific discovery will be drawn to this series immediately.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Lily and her tablet. What does she find out in a hurry? Can you find information that fast? How does she find information when she has to give the tablet up?
What did you enjoy learning while reading The Forbidden Stone? Was it the word puzzles? The early scientific discoveries? The facts about Europe? Where can you find out more?
Will you keep reading the Copernicus Legacy series? If so, what do you like best about it? What do you hope to find out in the next installment?
- Author: Tony Abbott
- Illustrator: Bill Perkins
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: STEM, Adventures, History, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
- Publication date: January 7, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 432
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: March 29, 2019
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