During a war hundreds of years ago, the seven sons of King Agamon of Balabad were each given a key. The seven keys were part of the security built around a grand treasure. The sons were sent to seven different places in the world to keep themselves (and the keys) safe until the war was over. Only when the keys came together again could the treasure of Balabad be found again.
500 years have passed since the seven sons were sent into the world. The sons are long gone, the fate of the keys unknown.
In today’s Balabad, a tiny (made up) Middle Eastern country, Oliver Finch is living with his parents, his Dad a foreign correspondant and his mom an art curator. Oliver is homesick for his friends, movies, pizza and everything familiar about New York City. Oliver and his only friend Zee find amusement and relief from the heat and blowing sand in the tent of the local carpet seller, Haji, an excellent storyteller.
One day, the boys learn about the theft of a 500 year-old carpet, The Sacred Carpet of Agamon. Then Zee overhears his father having a curious conversation and then Zee finds something interesting…an old key….and then Haji disappears under mysterious circumstances. An Indiana Jones-like adventure with a secret map, a cavern of mazes, greedy bad guys and smart kids who figure out the clues that lead to the secret of the seven keys.
This story is based on a real treasure found in Afghanistan called the Golden Hoard of Bactria. The treasure lay buried under a hill for 2,000 years before it was found again in the late 1970s.
Perp Walk is an interactive game of old-school investigation, logic, and determination. Everyone’s got an excuse or an alibi — or so it seems — but some stories are not as good as others. Use your knowledge and logic skills to catch the bad guys in this game of alibis and lies. Perp Walk
Talk the Talk Word of the Day: Signpost – A signal that lets someone know you have left a message for them.
Calder, Petra and Tommy (Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3) are back with another puzzling art mystery. Now in 7th grade, the three go with their class to see an exhibit of Alexander Calder’s mobiles at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Shortly after the field trip, Calder and his Dad take a trip to England and stay in a tiny village well known for its giant garden maze. The maze is life-size, and easy to get lost in, like the maze in the last challenge in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. To Calder’s surprise, the village also has a newly installed Alexander Calder sculpture in the town square. Many people living in the village are angry about the new sculpture, some villagers even seem angry at Calder for sharing the artist’s name. The anger turns to fear, however, when the sculpture, and Calder, both disappear without a trace. Petra and Tommy are flown to England to try to help Calder’s dad and the police figure out what happened to Calder. Is he lost in the maze, or something worse? Try to solve the puzzle and find the clues with Tommy and Petra. The illustrator hid puzzles in the pictures again – see if you can solve those too! Author: Blue Balliett Illustrator: Brett Helquist
Xander and Xena Holmes are spending a year in London with their family. While the kids are sitting on the steps of their hotel, a stranger passes by, presses a paper into Xena’s hand and says, “it fades fast.” The paper says “…I speak for the whole Society for the Preservation of Famous Detectives (SPFD) when I say that we are thrilled beyond words to welcome you to England, the home of your ancestors.” The kids manage to read the rest of the note (which tells them about a meeting place and a password) before the ink fades and the paper is left blank.
Not kids to pass up a mystery, they head to the meeting place, a neighborhood pub, and take a chance revealing the password to a waitress. The waitress freezes, startled, and then leads the kids to a back room…and locks them in! What have they gotten themselves into? The locked room is really a doorway into the SPFD. The kids discover that Sherlock Holmes is their great-great-great grandfather and they are given a casebook of his unsolved cases. The cases are old, the book contains 100-year-old secrets. Are the mysteries too old to solve? Not for the descendents of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, the worlds greatest detective. Author: Tracy Barrett
And if you like this one, try #2: The Sherlock Files The Beast of Blackslope. In this one Xander and Xena are investigating a bigfoot kind of beast terrorizing a village again after being absent for several years. Why is the beast back?