HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Nearly Twins and the Secret in the Mason Jar
Author: Miriam Jones Bradley
Illustrator: Jason Newsome
Publisher: Ambassador International, 2016
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 7-13
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Bradley, Miriam Jones. The Nearly Twins and the Secret in the Mason Jar (published in 2016 by Ambassador International, Emerald House, 411 University Ridge Suite B-14, Greenville, SC 29601). Bryce and May Lynn Neely, both ten years old, have just moved with their father, a history professor, and mother to Saluda, NC, and are living in the home of Miss Beulah Pace while she is recuperating in a nursing home. May Lynn, who was adopted from China, is 27 days older than Bryce, so they are called the “Nearly Twins.” In Miss Beulah’s yard, the children dig up a mason jar that has several objects sealed inside. It was put there in 1930 by Archie Pace with directions to a similar jar placed by his friend Shealy Middleton and references to a hidden treasure. Unfortunately, Archie, who they learn was Miss Beulah’s older brother, was killed in World War II, and Shealy is in the same nursing home as Miss Beulah suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
With their new friend Avery Thompson, the “twins” try to find clues that will lead them to the treasure. Unfortunately, May Lynn’s ability to help is hampered by her asthma. Does the treasure still exist? Will they find it? If so, what is it? And is it worth anything? Author Miriam Jones Bradley has written several books in The Double Cousins Mysteries series. In the last of these, The Double Cousins and the Mystery of Custer’s Gold, the Double Cousins meet the Neely family, and now we have this spin-off. There is much to like about this story. Of course, it is a delightful mystery adventure for young people. In addition, there is a great deal of emphasis on the value of learning local history. Plus, children will see sensitive treatments of people with both asthma and Alzheimer’s disease.
But most important are the good role models. Through her writing, Bradley seeks to provide exciting and captivating stories for children that teach the importance of traditional family connections while establishing good Biblical and character truths. As someone else noted, the youngsters are not perfect, but they are lovingly guided, corrected, and supported by their parents. In the process, they gain respect for elderly members of the community as well. Furthermore, not only was May Lynn adopted, but also the Neely kids are homeschooled. With its blend of laughter and tears, The Nearly Twins and the Secret in the Mason Jar is really a fun book that is sure to capture the imagination of young readers who might even be inspired to investigate the history of their own local area.