What You Need to Know:|
• Missing on Superstition Mountain is a good introduction to mystery and adventure novels.
• It is the first in what will be a series of books geared to kids in grades 2 through 5.
• According to the Author’s note, while the characters are fictional, the story is based on fact. It refers to the real-life
Superstition Mountains that are known for their legend of hidden gold and the many unusual deaths that have
taken place there over the years.
• The kids in the book spend a lot of time talking about how people have died. They even discuss with their dad if he’d
rather be cremated, buried or placed in a mausoleum. Although this morbid topic may give some readers the
shivers, it doesn’t get too detailed or too scary.
• The boys lie to their parents in order to try to solve a mystery.
• Black and white illustrations sprinkled throughout the pages will help connect readers to the story.
Moving to a new town can be tough enough without finding yourself surrounded by suspicious characters and an even more mysterious landscape, but that’s just the case for three brothers, Simon (11), Henry (10) and Jack (6) Barker. They recently moved from Chicago to a small town called Superstition, Arizona because when their great uncle Hank passed away, they inherited his house. Henry, who is named after Hank, also wonders if he has inherited any of Hank's legendary bravery. As the boys explore their peculiar new town, he has plenty of opportunities to find out.
With most of their neighbors away for the summer, and their parents working, the boys seem destined for boredom. That changes when they see their cat, Josie, disappear in the direction of nearby Superstition Mountain. Although they're forbidden to go there because it is supposedly too dangerous, they decide to go after their cat. They discover that there is more to this mountain than meets the eye. Not only do they see that the terrain is dangerous, but they find that something eerie and spooky lingers in the air. “Henry could almost feel the mountain grabbing at them and sense its disappointment that they were getting away.”
The boys make it down from their first visit to Superstition Mountain, but not before they fall into a canyon, discover three mysterious skulls, and become consumed by the mystery behind this strange place. They team up with Delilah, a spunky but lonely girl from their neighborhood, and together they use the library, the Internet and a local historian, to learn all they can about their new town. Apparently, Superstition Mountain has been the site of many unusual disappearances and deaths. According to a list they find in the library, people have been shot and even decapitated up there. There is also a story of a lost mine on the mountain, so it seems that the search for gold may have something to do with it. Despite the warning signs and their parents' strict rules against it, Simon, Henry, Jack and Delilah decide to return to Superstition Mountain to solve the mystery of those three skulls, and maybe even find some gold.
As the first book in the series, Missing on Superstition Mountain sets the stage for future books. The characters and setting are introduced, and the plot is carefully and clearly laid out. Woven into the text are references to classic literature like Peter Pan and Treasure Island and challenging vocabulary words like precarious and arduous. At the end of the book, readers are left with many clues but few answers to the mysteries that surround Superstition Mountain. The only thing they can be sure of is that these kids are undoubtedly going back up that mountain, just as soon as they can figure out how to get away with it. In order to follow along, readers will need to keep track of a bit of history, but as they say, “truth is stranger than fiction” and the facts here are certainly intriguing!
Antonio Javier Caparo
2011, 272 pages
Adventure, Books for Boys, Family Life, Friendship, History, Moving, Mystery, Siblings
• Why is Superstition Mountain forbidden to the boys?
• In the beginning, why did Delilah pretend that Josie was her cat?
• Which brother did you like the best and why?
• Would you like to live in Superstition? Why or why not?
• How would you feel about moving, especially to a place so different?
• Were the boys wrong to deceive their parents or were they justified in their actions?
• What do you think happened to Sara Delgado when she went up on the mountain?
• Do you think that gold is really hidden somewhere in the mountain? Why?
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