HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Revenge of the Aztecs: A Story of 1920s Hollywood
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Cover Illustrator: Douglas C. Klauba
Publisher: Brighter Child, republished in 2004
ISBN-13: 978-0809205868 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0809205866 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0769634319 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0769634311 Paperback
Related website: http://www.ChildrensSpecialty.com (publisher)
Language level: 2
(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 8 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Pfeffer, Susan Beth. Revenge of the Aztecs: A Story of 1920s Hollywood (published in 2000 by The McGraw Hill Companies Inc.; republished in 2004 by Waterbird Books, an imprint of School Specialty Children’s Publishing, a member of the School Specialty Family, 8720 Orion Place, Columbus, OH 43240). It is 1923, and fourteen-year-old Alicia Martinez, a ninth grader, is an orphan. Her mother and younger sister died in 1918 with the Spanish flu. Her father Juan, an oil field worker, died the following year as a result of being burned in an oil field fire from which he saved some fifty men. Alicia now lives with her father’s boss and his wife, whom she calls Uncle Jim and Aunt Clarissa Williamson, as her guardians, in Los Angeles, CA. They are millionaires. Her best friend at school is Faye Kauffman whose father, Irving, is the head of a famous movie studio.
Mr. Kauffman decides to cast Alicia in Revenge of the Aztecs, an epic film being produced in Hollywood with big stars Lylah Lynn and Richard Scott Davies. Alicia is excited at first, but then things began to go horribly wrong. An idol topples almost on top of her. A rock rolls down a hill and just misses her. She is pushed and nearly falls into a flaming pit. Then she is kidnapped by the very body guard hired to protect her. Why are all these events occurring? Who is responsible for them? And what will happen to Alicia? The Prologue begins with Alicia walking back home after being kidnapped, and the ensuing chapters explain what led up to her situation.
The mystery element in the plot makes for an interesting story that is hard to put down. A couple of common euphemisms (darn, heck) are used, but no major objectionable material is found. And there is some educational benefit with information about the conquest by Hernando Cortes of the Aztecs in Mexico and about the “current events” of 1923 when President Warren G. Harding died and was succeeded by Calvin Coolidge. Revenge of the Aztecs is part of a series called “Jamestown’s American Portraits” which explores the growth of different generations and cultures through the lives of young boys and girls. It also includes ten other volumes set in Jamestown Settlement, the Revolutionary War, the liberation of Texas, the Civil War, the period of Reconstruction, the Italian immigration to New York City, the Great Depression, World War II, and the Civil Rights Movement.