________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 32 . . . . April 20, 2012


The Money Pit Mystery.

Eric Walters.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1999/2011.
289 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55455-123-1.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Laura Dick.

*** /4



My scream was intertwined with those of Beth and Buzz, and all of our voices were lost beneath the roar of the engine and the sound of the sand sliding out of the truck. Terrified, I leaped to my feet and tried to run. I stumbled a few feet and staggered, tumbling over onto my face. I shoved myself up on my knees and struggled forward, suddenly aware that I wasnít crawling as much as swimming through a sea of sand that surrounded me. A massive weight pushed against my back and I was overwhelmed and pinned down. The sand still surged all around me and I was struck by the clear thought that I was about to drown to death in the sand. I felt a shocking sense of calm as sand flowed over the top of me and everything went black.

Sam and his sister Beth return with their mother to Oak Island to visit their grandfather. They havenít seen him in a number of years, ever since he and their mom had a big fight. An island off the coast of Nova Scotia, Oak Island is the alleged hiding spot of Captain Kiddís buried treasure, and Samís grandpa is involved in the hunt.

      When they arrive on the island, Sam and Beth realize that something strange is going on. Grandpaís previously immaculate house is in a state of total chaos. There are cats everywhere, the gate is hanging off its hinges, the shades are all drawn down over the windows, the house looks like a disaster, nothing has been cleaned in months, and no one seems to know where their grandfather is. Sam and Beth and their old friend Buzz soon find out that their grandfather is very busy helping the newest treasure hunters looking for the pirate gold supposedly buried deep down in the Money Pit Ė a pit more than 60 feet deep. Sam soon gets caught up in the hunt for the treasure and spends his summer trying to solve the mystery of the hidden gold. When they arenít hunting for treasure, Sam and Beth also have to figure out what is wrong with their grandfather because their mother sure isnít willing to tell them.

      The Money Pit Mystery is a re-issue of a 1999 title. The 2011 version sports a very well designed and appealing cover. With a black background, gold print and very interesting combined image of young boy and a human skull sporting a pirate bandana and sunglasses, the cover alone will attract readers.

      Written early in Waltersí career, this title is perfectly suited to the intended audience Ė preteen and teen reluctant male readers. Sam and Bethís relationship is well realized. As the younger brother, Samís attitude toward his older sister rings true. He is alternately surprised, irritated and bemused by her sudden interest in Buzz, a young neighbor of their grandfatherís. Unfortunately, there is not as much development of the adult characters, but they are really just supporting players who merely enable to plot; they donít drive it in any way.

      The ending may be a bit too neatly pulled together and a bit fantastical for discriminating readers, but that wonít make any difference to the readers who do matter Ė young boys looking for a fast, exciting read about pirates and treasure and magic.


Laura Dick is trying to raise four teenagers while attempting to maintain her sanity. She escapes to work as a librarian at a large public library in Southwestern Ontario.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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