Parents' Guide to

The Lost Treasure of Tuckernuck

By Blair Jackson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Funny, intriguing mystery of school's hidden treasure.

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Author Emily Fairlie is very good at getting into the minds of the sixth graders at the center of the story and unspooling the mystery through their eyes. The narrative is regularly interrupted by a series of mental lists about people and situations in the book, most of them by "Laurie Madison, grade six," but some by other characters. For example, when Laurie and Bud meet an elderly teacher they hope will provide information to help them solve the puzzle, we're treated to "Miss Lucille's Daily Old Person checklist as imagined by Laurie... : 1. Ancient furry cardingan--check; 2. Puffy salon hairdo--check; 3. Orthopedic nurse type-shoes--check; 4. Paper-dry hands--check," and so on. There are also reproductions of notes, emails, and phone messages connected to the school's administration, parents, teachers and other students, which cleverly advance the story and tell readers more about the motivations of different characters.

Although The Lost Treasure of Tuckernuck is a contemporary tale with modern references (and attitudes of the students), there's something slightly retro about the story, the setting and the puzzle at its heart -- this could almost be a Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew mystery, except those classic series were free of cynicism and snark. Still, this is entertaining and decidely G-rated fare that should keep middle grade readers guessing and chuckling until the very end.

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