About the Book
Title: The Ultimate Treasure Quest I: The Jewel of Peru | Author: Sharon Skretting | Publication Date: September 20, 2014 | Publisher: Independent | Pages: 317 | Recommended Ages: 8+
Summary: The Jewel of Peru is a magical adventure through time, taking young Captain Christopher and his loyal crew of orphaned stowaways on a perilous quest in search of Christopher’s missing parents.
After his father’s ship is found abandoned at sea, Christopher makes an unexpected discovery on board—The Ultimate Treasure Chest! Inside is a message that beckons him to set sail after the treasure and his parents. When a savage pirate and a corrupt businessman join forces to steal the treasure for themselves, the gang gets caught up in pirate chases, time travel, and an underground network of spies. Will Christopher find the Jewel and his parents, or will all be lost for ever?
* You can purchase an e-copy of “The Jewel of Peru” for only 99 cents from Amazon for the duration of the blast, so grab your copy now! *
My Thoughts: When Charles and Alexus Faramund go missing and their ship drifts back to port empty of its crew, their 12 year-old son, Christopher stumbles upon a mysterious bejeweled treasure chest which contains a message about seeking the “Ultimate Treasure”. Driven by the hope that his parents are alive and that the treasure chest will lead him to them, Christopher, his guardian Alistair, and a rag-tag crew of young stowaways (Jada, Heidi, Sheridan, Desi, Chang, and Abay, and a little mouse named Squeak) head off for an adventure of a lifetime that will see them travel to the future to a modern-day Peru.
As with any great thriller, the voyage is further complicated when a notorious greedy, pirate named Captain Black Stan discovers that the children are in search of the Ultimate Treasure. Black Stan teams up with the villainous Connor who has his own agenda and whom also seeks the Ultimate Treasure while he exploits the land, people, and resources of Peru. Christopher and his crew will have to outsmart Black Stan and Connor at every turn, using their own skills and resources on their quest to finding Christopher’s parents as well as the Ultimate Treasure.
I am a big fan of stories that feature time travel. In most cases, time traveling in children’s books involves either traveling back in time to a specific time period giving the opportunity to teach children about past historical events or traveling to the future opening children’s minds to the possibilities of what we may encounter on Earth or elsewhere many years from now. In The Jewel of Peru, the characters travel from the past to present-day Peru. In this way, the author tackles modern-day themes by taking the position of having to explain our society’s current issues (environmental in particular) to someone who lived a long time ago. I really appreciated this twist on the time-travel theme.
More and more I’m seeing, in middle grade books, cast ensembles that bring together diverse characters each with unique strengths and perspectives that factor into how the plot develops. Sharon Skretting has assembled a cast of young protagonists from varied backgrounds demonstrating how they can overlook their differences and draw on each other strengths in achieving the overall goal. Aside from the young Captain Christopher and his crew, there were a number of secondary characters each of whom play an important role in the main character’s journey. In this story, the secondary characters for the most part provide key pieces of information and are largely under-developed otherwise. This worked for the overall purpose of the book.
The Jewel of Peru is first and foremost an adventure, but woven within the chase scenes, treasure hunting, and riddle-solving are educational tidbits about Peru including information about the climate and geographical regions of Peru, the famous Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, the local fauna such as alpacas, and so much more. The riddles the children must solve as part of their journey center around not only around these points, but also around some of the ecological, environmental, and industrial issues faced by the people of Peru. The educational value of the book is immense and it just so happens that the author has also developed teacher support materials to go along with the book (see below).
That being said, I do have to comment that I sometimes felt that the use of the riddles to highlight the educational components were a bit too obvious. Some of the interesting tidbits about Peru were woven very well into the story so that children would not necessarily perceive that they are actually learning something from reading the book. On the one hand, the use of the riddles provides natural discussion points for a classroom and along with the resources available to teachers, The Jewel of Peru would make an excellent choice for deeper study in a school or homeschool setting. The flipside is that outside of the classroom, children may feel that the educational components are burdensome. Sometimes children just want to read and get lost in the fantasy.
My Bottom Line: The Jewel of Peru is the first book in a new time-travel adventure series featuring a young Captain, his ship The Discovery, and his motley crew of young seafarers who join him on a quest to find his missing parents and the “Ultimate Treasure”. The story is filled with intrigue, suspense, and danger and has tremendous educational value, as they travel from the past to present-day Peru where they learn about the ecological and environmental issues faced by this nation. I highly recommend this book to be used in conjunction with the teacher support resources, as part of a school or homeschool curriculum. Ages 8+.
* I received a copy of this book free-of-charge from the author in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own. The author is also participating in our book promotion services.
“Jewel of Peru took me on an adventure from page one. Sharon Skretting has captured Peru and deftly woven elements of the culture and geography into a fast-paced treasure hunt. It was well written, entertaining and introduced me to new ideas. I loved making little discoveries along the way about the people and places. I found some of the features of Peru so interesting, I looked them up the Internet and was delighted to find things just as she described. Fact and fantasy blend seamlessly in this delightful tale.” ~ Sara Marschand, Quiethouse Copy Editing
“Engaging and meaningful, the author does an excellent job crafting this story. I don’t usually read middle school novels but made an exception for this one and will be passing it on to all the children in my life.” ~ 5 Star Review, Love Reading, Amazon
“The Jewel of Peru is a wonderful piece of educational fiction that blends fact and fantasy to create a literary journey that is both informative and exciting for young readers… It’s every bit as much of a page turner as it is a learning experience…” ~ 5 Star Review, Kelley, Amazon
“Sharon Skretting has captured Peru and deftly woven elements of the culture and geography into a fast-paced treasure hunt. It was well written, entertaining and introduced me to new ideas… Fact and fantasy blend seamlessly in this delightful tale.” ~ 5 Star Review, Sara M., Amazon
About the Author: Sharon Skretting
Sharon Skretting is the author of The Ultimate Treasure Quest I: The Jewel of Peru, and the founder of Quest Teaching. She has been teaching elementary school for twenty years and lives with her husband and a cat, named Scat! Now that her three children have grown, she is spreading her wings into the realm of professional writing. Being able to use her love of writing to excite her students about learning is a dream come true for Sharon. Her goal is to write fast paced, excellent literature —filled with interesting characters, intrigue, danger and intricate plots—that will hook readers aged nine to ninety nine and make them want to read more!
* Teacher support materials to go along with the novel can be purchased at Teachers Pay Teachers *
* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *
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Contest ends: December 25, 11:59 pm, 2014
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