________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 3 . . . . September 21, 2012


Secrets of the Dunes: A Hanna and Emily Morgan Mystery.

Julianna Kozma.
Toronto, ON: McArthur & Company, 2011.
258 pp., trade pbk., $11.99.
ISBN 978-1-77087-016-1.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Alicia Cheng.

*** /4



"Wow, a real archaeological dig," Jack gushed, eagerly rubbing his hands on his now wrinkled shorts. "I can't believe I finally get to see one on the island."

"Yes, it's not every day you have something like this here,
and be invited to help out," agreed Mr. Mackenzie. "There are about twenty people working this dig. Dr. Cyril Williams over there is the foreman for the dig, and you'll report to him. He'll let you know what you'll be working on today. He's a major player in the world of archaeology, and he's hoping that this dig will be the crowning touch on his career. He thinks he's just the cat's meow on anything that is related to archaeology. ..."

Secrets of the Dunes begins with the family planning a trip back to Prince Edward Island for summer vacation. From what I deduce, the adventure in the first book, Mosquitoes of Summer, was also set in PEI. The children are invited to participate in an archaeological dig on PEI due to evidence of a possible lost city on this tiny island Atlantis. Amateur detectives Hannah and Emily Morgan, along with Jack and Lucy, set out to unravel the historical puzzle of the lost city of Atlantis. The discovery of an armband suggests that Atlantis did indeed exist 9000 years ago. However, this evidence is soon stolen. With thieves threatening to destroy their discoveries, the Morgan sisters, plus Jack, and Lucy, must find out who is out to destroy the archaeological dig from solving the true existence of Atlantis.

      The historical aspect, alongside the tension a mystery genre creates, is certain to pique interest. Julianna Kozma has cleverly woven history and mystery together through Secrets of the Dunes to create an adventure on which the Morgan sisters and their friends embark. The prologue tells readers a bit about the history behind Atlantis, but it is only later in the story that readers think back to the prologue and find out what it was about and how everything came to be. The hints are all there, but readers have to read beyond these opening pages to understand.

      Secrets of the Dunes is the second Hannah and Emily Morgan Mystery written by Julianna Kozma. Because I had not read Mosquitoes of Summer, Secrets of the Dunes was a new experience for me. Despite my having not read the first book, I did not find the story difficult to follow. It is a standalone read with the same protagonists in each story of the series, similar to other series like "Nancy Drew| or "The Boxcar Children". And like these other series, Secrets of the Dunes was an enjoyable read. Julianna Kozma has put together a story with many appealing elements: history, mystery, and adventure. Each of these elements in itself is already a page turner. Children 9-12 will find this book an interesting and fast-paced read. Parents will also enjoy this as a read-aloud to the whole family.


Alicia Cheng is a Children's Librarian at the Vancouver Public Library in Vancouver, BC.

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

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