CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 6 . . . .November 12, 2004
In the first installation of this series, A.D. Fast creates an adventure which spans centuries. The Mystery of the Medieval Coin has a familiar plot which children always enjoy. Three best friends, Marvin, Lucas and Nicole, can't figure out what their history teacher, Mr. LeClair, is up to. Discovering his secret leads them into the ancient cave in the forest. There, they solve the mystery of the writing on the cave wall.
The Medieval Coin will work very well as a "read aloud" for any teacher doing a unit on knights, castles or medieval times. It has a mixed gender group of grade five children as the main characters. They are pre-teens who obviously are looking for, and find, adventure. The description of life in a castle is super. There are descriptions of clothing, social hierarchies, jousting, and squires' duties. The ancient times are set in France, and this does tie-in a multi-lingual aspect.
There is some "clean" toilet humour in this novel which will always keep the intended age group laughing. With the exception of the children's "camping-out," the home and school situations are very realistic. The location of the "forest" wasn't very clear, other than it was very near one of the students' homes. Throughout the novel, I got the impression that the author was trying to create a suspenseful climax, but this was not effectively achieved. This book was a series of mini-climaxes constantly leading to the next event.
Time travel is handled in a reasonably believable fashion. However, the involvement of the history teacher in the adventure was shaky and didn't seem to have strong connections to the plot. Why didn't they know this teacher better than they did? They had been in his class for ten months and were only now beginning to suspect his strange behaviour? Perhaps the next book in this series will answer the questions I have regarding the antagonist character. The "mystery" is not solved in this novel, but it definitely leaves one wanting to know, "What happens next?"
Gillian Bernard is a Junior High teacher with the Calgary Board of Education.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.