CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 38. . . .May 31, 2013
The movie Men in Black comes to mind when viewing Conspiracy's cover. An agent wearing dark glasses is holding up a hand to prevent you from seeing the alien on the bed behind him. The "Mystery Files" series does it again, sparking interest and dialogue among young people who read Conspiracy. Throughout history, there have been cover-ups in order to protect the average citizen from learning too much. Not only governments, but secret societies and scientists have withheld information for what they considered the greater good. In addition, many people are negatively skeptical and suspicious about anything that seems to be out of the ordinary. This book focuses on 12 stories that could be true or false.
Two-page spreads offer the main details of an event, the skeptics' view and often the proof or truth behind the story. Was the Great Fire of London in 1666 an accident or a plot by the English Catholics who were opposed to the restoration of the Protestant King Charles II to the throne? Did Shakespeare really write all those plays himself, or were there others who simply used his name? Who was the real Jack the Ripper? Other topics are the death of Lincoln, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the secret society called the Illuminati, made famous in the recent book and movie The Da Vinci Code. Most intriguing are the stories about the aliens found and then hidden in Roswell, New Mexico; the assassination of Kennedy; and the most recent event – the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks.
All the events discussed in this book can be catalysts for further research and lively discussions. Basic research and details are provided, but the coloured photos and drawings give the reader more of the essence of the events. At the back of the book, there is a glossary and a page entitled "Find Out More" where books and websites are cited, offering the opportunity to explore the topics further.
As in all the other "Mystery File" books, each story has "Mystery Words" defined and a "Mystery File" fact bubble that adds more details. The short, fact-splashed pages are easy to read with the exception of place names and more difficult words like "dictator", "speculating", "culprit" and "contemporaries". These words are defined both in the glossary and at the bottom of the page. High interest and lower readability, graded at the guided reading level Q, make the books in this series popular with middle school readers. Readers will be sure to keep Conspiracy circulating and off the shelf.
Sherry Faller is a retired teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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