CM . . .
. Volume XV Number 3. . . .September 26, 2008
The Legend of the Lost Jewels. (A Hazel Frump Adventure).
Toronto, ON: HarperCollins Canada, 2008.
224 pp., pbk., $14.99.
Grades 6-8 / Ages 11-13.
Review by Lindsay Schluter.
Hazel pounded on door after door, but each one was shut tight against the storm and securely locked.
She was alone.
She was stuck outside in rain that was rapidly turning to ice and wind that was almost strong enough to knock her down. And not one person in the whole world knew. Nobody was expecting her until tomorrow night. Her uncle and cousins could be anywhere. They could be in the village, picking up some groceries, or at a café. They could be home in five minutes…or five hours. Or they could be out of town.
"Brilliant." Hazel hadn't meant to say the word out loud but it wasn't like there was anyone around to hear. "What is it with holidays?"
It is Thanksgiving weekend at the Frumps', and although you might suspect that the most dramatic event on such a weekend would be that of overdone turkey or overly boisterous belching, such is never the case for 12-year old Hazel and her younger brother Ned.
Shortly after arriving at their cousins' castle on Ile du Loup, the children learn that both of their schools have been closed down due to a wicked storm. Hazel and Ned are free to spend the next few weeks ambling the castle's alleyways – a prospect that is made all the more exciting when their father plans an elaborate treasure hunt for them, complete with cryptic clues and the promise of "hidden jewels." In true teacher form, Hazel's history teacher also leaves her with an arduous assignment that requires her to write an essay about her ancestors' lives during the nineteenth century.
But when Hazel starts discovering some very mysterious things about her long-ago relatives, she can't help but continue her research into the wee hours of the morning. The old, shadowy library of the Frump family home quickly becomes Hazel's regular hang-out, and to her surprise, Hazel discovers a cryptic journal belonging to her great uncle Edwin entitled "My Book of Spells and Magicks." With the help of her cousins, Hazel also learns about the "legend of the lost jewels" – a supposition that, long ago, a case full of valuable jewels was buried somewhere in the castle.
At first, Hazel and Ned are in disbelief that such a legend could ever be true, but when the two children stumble across a peculiar box containing a bounty of trinkets and gems, they are forced to wonder… is this the treasure that was supposed to be found at the end of the treasure hunt? Or are these lost jewels that were hidden, and lost, so many years ago?
In her sequel to The Mystery of the Martello Tower, Lanthier gives readers an edge-of-the-seat thrill that is chalk full of suspense, mystery, and even a bit of humour. "Tweens" who are already familiar with the likes of Hazel and Ned (and even those who are not) won't be disappointed. The Legend of the Lost Jewels is a page turner, and with plenty of clues popping up around every corner, readers will be encouraged to pick up their own spy-glasses, almost as if they, themselves, are characters in the book.
As is expected of series fiction, the basic formula of Lanthier's first novel is recreated in the second; however, these elements can, at times, feel somewhat contrived at the expense of the plot's believability. For instance, much like the first novel, Hazel and Ned are able to spend an entire month at their cousins' castle. This time around, though, it is October, and the only reason the children are able to spend such a lengthy period of time at the Frump residence is because both of their schools happen to be under repair after an autumn storm.
Despite the unlikely circumstances in which the Frump children find themselves, the characters of Hazel and Ned are well developed across both novels. And much to the delight of the reader, Ned, in particular, has become even more hilarious (a "clirty" shirt will forever be known, in my household, as a shirt that has only been worn once and is, therefore, clean enough to wear). Hazel's basketball-loving personality is also emphasized to some degree, although readers are denied the enjoyment of any kind of true blue basketball match. At times, Hazel and Ned's relationship seems too good to be true – in fact, they get along much better than any brother-sister duo that I've ever encountered – although, if brothers and sisters are to get along in the real world, they do need to learn it from somewhere.
The novel's cover leaves much to be desired, not only because of its unpolished hand-drawn style, but because of its inconsistency with the novel's plot. Throughout the novel, it is a hawk that makes an elusive appearance – not a crow, as is featured on the cover. In fact, the only crows in the entire book are those that appear at the Halloween party… as costumes.
Overall, though, Lanthier's second Hazel Frump adventure is well worth the read and will undoubtedly be enjoyed by those who are looking for a fast-paced mystery. At the end of The Legend of the Lost Jewels, readers are left hanging with the suggestion of yet another adventure, and although it is unclear how it will unfold, Hazel, herself, sums it up nicely: "I can't wait to find out."
Lindsay Schluter is a recent graduate from the Library and Information Studies program at the University of British Columbia.
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