In Australian author Heath Jones’ book The Lost Treasure of Persia: A Skye Belle Adventure, twelve-year old Skye Bell and her younger brother Brandon go on an adventure in Paris that turns into a danger-fraught mystery.
Their mission starts out simple enough: visit the Louvre museum to see some recently uncovered ancient Persian artifacts the kids think might be linked to Queen Esther. They hope that examining these items first-hand will help them discover the secret to the Biblical queen’s courage to come before her husband, the King of Persia. However, on their first meeting with their museum contact, the kids discover the jewelry has been stolen. From there on out, the children try to find clues, capture the thief, and restore the treasure to the museum. As the story unfolds, Skye discovers it’s not just the secret of Queen Esther’s courage she is trying to find; it is her own.
What I Like: The story brings in Christian elements and lessons in a way that feels natural, kids can relate to, and works with the personalities of the characters. Also, in many ways, The Lost Treasure of Persia reminds me of the simplicity of adventure found in the popular Magic Tree House stories, only without the time travel. In both, you have a brother and sister on a mission where they learn history, solve a mystery, and confront danger. In much the same way, the story also moves quickly from plot point to plot point—steady action but without the more complex character development found in books geared toward an older audience. The cover art also appeals to that 1st-2nd grade age group. The main character looks much like Kim in the cartoon Kim Possible. That’s why I believe that if your child likes the Magic Tree House books, he will likely enjoy this series as well.
What I Dislike: Kids might not have an issue with this, but I was bothered by the fact that, all on their own, the young characters simply fly off to Paris, travel around the country, and stay in a hotel. When they need to relocate to another part of Europe, they simply purchase tickets and take off… again, on their own. Nowhere in the story does it indicate the family is wealthy enough to have such a large travel income at their disposal. Neither is it believable kids this age would travel without any adult supervision. A family vacation, a visit to a distant relative, a special international camp, a friend who works at the museum in Paris, rich parents who send kids on a trip with a butler, or even a magic tree house... any of these ideas would solve that issue and make the story feel a little more authentic.
Overall Rating: I debated between excellent and very good, and when that happens, I usually go with the benefit of the doubt. So... EXCELLENT.
Age Appeal: The publisher does not list an age group, but I believe it fits kids in grades 1,2, and 3--- about, as I said, the level of a Magic Tree House adventure.
Publisher Info: Amazon Digital Services, 2014; ISBN: 978-1501061899; kindle or paperback, 116 pgs., $4.99
This book is NOT available at Christianbook.com.
Buy the kindle version at Amazon.com for a discounted price of $1.99.
OR Buy the the paperback version for $4.49.