And Then I Read: THE SECRET BOX by Whitaker Ringwald

SecretBoxCover art © Erwin Madrid.

The puzzle mystery has entered the computer age in this entertaining book for younger readers. Jax Malone has just turned twelve, and a mysterious box has arrived from her great-aunt Juniper, but Jax’s mother doesn’t want her to have it, or to have anything to do with her rarely seen relative. With the help of best friend Ethan, Jax manages to get her hands on the box and finds it has an LED screen with cryptic clues that leads them on a wild chase to find out not only what’s inside the box, but many other unusual things her great-aunt has been involved in, from ancient curses to legendary goddesses. Before long Jax and Ethan have recruited Ethan’s older brother Tyler, a hard-core computer game wiz, and are headed off to Washington, DC, but along the way the box is stolen by a pair of clever thieves who seem to know more about it than they do, and who may also know where to find Jax’s missing relative.

This is a fun adventure story with well-written characters and lots of action, suspense and mystery. It’s told alternately by Jax and Ethan, each with a memorable point of view and entertaining insights, and the book manages to tell a believable, realistic story with modern themes as well as some fantasy elements, not an easy thing to pull off. I had a good time with it.

Recommended.

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