Author: Whitaker Ringwald
Series: Secret Box
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (February 25, 2014)
Description: The Secret Box is a Junior Library Guild selection and the first in an irresistible middle grade series that will delight fans of Dan Gutman, Wendy Mass, and Trenton Lee Stewart.
What starts as a fun quest to open a mysterious birthday present quickly turns crazy and dangerous when Jax and her cousin Ethan discover themselves at the center of a special magical legacy. Soon they realize the secret box was not intended as a gift, but as call for help that they alone can answer.
Readers will love the page-turning mystery, hilarious girl and boy narrators, and clever incorporation of mythology—and lingering questions will leave them eager for more.
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this middle grade adventure story. It all begins when Jax gets a birthday present and her mom takes it away from her to return it. Jax is the kind of 12-year-old who just can't resist a secret. She becomes determined to find out what it is and who sent it to her. Jax is hyper and daring and doesn't always think before she acts.
Aiding and abetting her is her cousin Ethan who has long since taken on the role of sidekick despite Jax saying he is her partner. Ethan is a year older but, if he were a superhero, his name would be Caution Man. Jax is shy, introverted, and prone to nosebleeds when he is stressed. He also has a great knowledge of all sorts of facts and is a very practical kid.
The two of them begin to solve the puzzle but have to recruit Ethan's older brother Tyler to assist. He is old enough to drive a car. He treats the two of them like major annoyances and is constantly working on developing a video game with his friends. He is also obsessed with winning and has quite a collection of trophies.
When Jax and Ethan decided that they need to go to Washington, DC, to solve their riddle, they convince Tyler to take them using a geochaching contest as a lure. But their quest to open the mystery box takes on more significance when they are followed by strangers who want to buy the box and then steal the box when they leave it in the car briefly.
The kids need to find the great-aunt who sent the box to Jax to find out what is going on. Their quest takes them from New Jersey to Washington DC and has them confronting villains and a mystical object from the past.
The story was fast-paced and very entertaining. I especially liked the chapters from Ethan's point of view. It was great for him to find his inner hero. All the kids changed and grew through the course of this story.
I recommend it for middle grade adventure lovers.
"We?" I shoved my hands into my jeans pockets. "Why does it have to be we?" Jax always called us partners but I was more like the faithful sidekick. "Why can't it be you for once? Why do you always have to drag me into everything?"I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.