HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Treasure Hunt: A Shenandoah Valley Mystery
Author: Eunice Geil Smith
Cover Illustrator: Allan Burch
Publisher: Herald Press, 2006
Related website: http://www.heraldpress.com (publisher)
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 8 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Smith, Eunice Geil. Treasure Hunt: A Shenandoah Valley Mystery (published in 2006 by Herald Press, Scottdale, PA 15683). It is 1959, and eleven-year-old Maggie Driver, a sixth grader, lives with her father John, mother Hannah, younger sister Elizabeth, and baby sister Sarah on an isolated farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Great-aunt Margaret lives in the other half of the house. One winter’s day, Maggie plays a joke on her napping father by putting snow down his shirt. While hiding from him in the crawl space of the cellar, she finds an old syrup can containing a diary written during the Civil War by first her great-great-grandfather and then her great-grandfather, both named Joseph Treiber. It mentions a secret hiding place and implies there might be a treasure. With the help of her neighbor and friend Sam Rhodes, Maggie secretly begins looking for it. Will she find it? And what might the treasure be?
This book, which was first recommended to me in Home School Digest magazine, contains a lot of interesting historical information about Union General Philip Sheridan’s 1864 raid on the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War and the hardships that it caused the residents. Yet, there is much more. Maggie also learns some important lessons as she sees firsthand the trouble caused by spreading false rumors and the dangers of seeking revenge. And all of this is found in a fast-paced story that is filled with suspense and intrigue. The Drivers are Mennonites, as were their ancestors, so there are references to the Mennonite Church as a “peace church” characterized by “non-resistance” and “pacifism.” Not all Bible believers agree with this position, but it is an important historical fact, and those who may disagree should still respect their convictions. Treasure Hunt is a fun and creative mystery.