Missing on Superstition Mountain by Elise Broach

Cindy: Elise Broach, forgive me, but THIS was the book that I was supposed to write! Missing on Superstition Mountain (Holt 2011) is far better than anything I would have written…but still! My grandparents moved from New York state to be in Zane Grey country sixty odd years ago and settled on a couple of acres in Apache Junction, AZ with an incredible view of these majestic mountains. I grew up hearing the legends of the lost miners who were searching for gold in them there hills but never found their way out. Like the kids in Broach’s middle grade mystery, my brother and I were warned that the mountain was dangerous–that people went in and got lost, even having left trails of pebbles or rope…etc. So I was an adult before I ever hiked the well-marked trails up into the mountain. You can watch a short video about the mysteries of the mountain at the Lost Dutchman State Park website.

View from Cindy's Grandma's house

The three Barker brothers (ages 11, 10 and 6) ignore the warnings they’ve been issued when their cat disappears after last being seen headed toward the mountain. They quickly realize they should have listened to their parents when they find three human skulls perched on a ledge and find themselves immersed in the eeriness and mysteries of the mountain. That’s about as creepy as things given that this is for a young audience but you have to love a book in which children do research to try to solve their mystery. I also like the author’s note at the close of the book that explains which characters are real and which are fictional. An initially annoying neighbor girl, Delilah, joins the hunt and becomes an asset to the team. Much of this first book is set-up for the rest of the series and includes some intriguing secondary characters. I’ll be following along, and I bet many younger mystery readers looking for adventure will too. And, hey, I think I need to find the Scrooge McDuck story she mentions, by Don Rosa: “The Dutchman’s Secret.”

Lynn: This is one of the books the focus group and I read together this summer and we all enjoyed it.  The ends of the chapters are the sorts that kept us rolling right on to the next one with the boys begging for “just one more.”  We took turns reading and, at almost-8, they only needed occasional help with the vocabulary.  A lot of the mystery remains which has us all looking forward to the next installment.  I, of course, loved the part research played in the story and we all loved the history and the physical setting and are anxious for more about the spooky Superstition Mountains.

One of the things we most enjoyed about the story was the relationship of the boys and the perspective of Henry, the middle child.  With a new step-brother in our mix, we are experiencing the dynamics of three and this aspect of the book seemed especially well done.  Jack, the fearless younger brother, had us all shaking our heads and Simon’s bossiness generated some good discussion as well.  Bring on the next installment!

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

1 Comment on "Missing on Superstition Mountain by Elise Broach"

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  1. lisa@lisamcmann.com' Lisa McMann says:

    Love this review — so cool to see a book about my “neighborhood.” Cindy, the view from your grandmother’s house looks strangely familiar. And as always, I love reading your entertaining reviews.

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