HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Torn Map
Author: Miriam Jones Bradley
Cover Illustrator: David Siglin
Publisher: Ambassador International, 2011
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 7-13
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Bradley, Miriam Jones. The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Torn Map (published in 2011 by Ambassador International, Emerald House, 427 Wade Hampton Blvd., Greenville, SC 29609). How do you think that you would feel if there were some possible suggestion that an ancestor of yours was a bank robber? In the debut novel of this series, The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Missing Watch, double cousins Max, Dorie, and Chad Rawson, and Carly and Molly Johnson, along with another cousin Brandon Johnson, solve a mystery on their annual summer visit at the Nebraska ranch of their grandparents, Milton and Georgia Johnson. Grandpa’s grandfather, Isaac Johnson, had a twin brother Zachary, who went west in 1890 and was never heard from again. All they know is that he had an engraved pocket watch just like one Grandpa has from Isaac. The kids find out that he was attacked, had amnesia, and settled in Colorado with a made up name, Zedekiah Lee Jay, from the initials on his watch. They also find out that the drifter named Slim, who works for Grandpa and has a similar pocket watch, is really Justin Jay, a descendent of Zach/Zedekiah’s and thus a relative.
In The Mystery of the Torn Map, Slim, who has returned home, e-mails to ask if Grandpa, Grandma, and the kids can come to Lamar, CO, and help him solve another mystery related to Zach/Zedekiah. His dad had bought an old clock and found a torn piece of a map that matches another piece that had been left by Zach/Zedekiah. After talking to the former owner of the clock, Miss Belle Cox, whose grandfather Matthew Stover was a partner with Zachary Johnson, and her great-nephew Dexter, off they go to Creede, CO, where she tells them that the two young men had once lived. However, while looking for information about Matthew and Zach and seeing a newspaper report about a bank robbery in nearby Pueblo, CO, in 1891 by two young men, they find out that someone in a blue pickup truck is following them, spying on them, even steals Carly’s copy of the map out of her Bible in the van, and then throws the Bible in the trash. Who is he? What is he up to? And will they ever find any more information about what happened to Zachary? Was he a bank robber?
The plot of this book is well thought out with good suspense, and youngsters, especially mystery fans, will find it exciting reading that is hard to put down. It is always a pleasure to read even fiction stories where people’s lives and actions are guided by their faith in God. It’s also nice to read about children who are mannerly, polite, and well-behaved. Oh, these kids aren’t perfect. They get impatient, pout a little, and make other mistakes, but Grandma and Grandpa are there to help remind them what’s really important. As a result, they learn some valuable lessons. Indeed, the portrayal of intergenerational relationships in this loving family is quite commendable. And there’s an added bonus. The reason that the kids can go on this mystery-solving trip so late in the summer is, as Max’s dad explains, “We weren’t going to start with your home school until after Labor Day this year.” Isn’t it wonderful not to be tied down to some schedule worked out by an educational bureaucrat? This is a great read!