Watson, J. (2009). The 39 Clues: Beyond the Grave. New York: Scholastic, Inc.
Appetizer: The fourth book in the 39 Clues series opens with the Cahill siblings in Cairo, Egypt, being pursued by their cousin, Irina, who is ex-KGB. This time, Dan and Amy aren't quite certain what they're looking for in a clue. Best solution? Wander around a museum.
The siblings are lucky enough to meet an old friend of their grandmother's, which leads to a deeper understanding of who Grace Cahill was, but betrayals and encounters from other relatives still keep Amy and Dan on their toes. Plus, Amy and Dan are beginning to fight, causing the fear that they'll end up behaving just like all the other Cahills.
Grace has become quite the Dumbledore figure, endowed with knowledge beyond what any one person should have and capable of still directing major operations from her grave. Someday, when I'm old and wrinkly, I hope I can manipulate young people into dangerous situations that will pit them against dark lords or their relatives like that. Seriously.
I really enjoyed Jude Watson's addition to the series. Watson's writing included a lot of subtle humor that had me chuckling even during many of the tense scenes.
"If Amy Cahill had to list what was wrong with eleven-year-old brothers, their habit of disappearing would be numero uno.
Or maybe the fact that they existed in the first place.
And then there was the whole burping the alphabet thing...."
"He gave her the statue.
It felt strange to touch something so old. Something Napoleon had touched. Every so often she got a deep thrill from a sense of her own DNA linking like a chain down a line leading to a bunch of extraordinary people. Napoleon!" (pp. 10-11).
"The Lucians are all little Napoleons," Dan grumbled. "Look at Ian and Natalie. Just a couple of smarty-pants with cash. Comrade Irina? A smarty-pants with a tic. Napoleon? He was a smarty-pants with an army" (p. 19).
"Where to?" the taxi driver asked, waking with a start.
"Just go, go go!" Nellie shouted.
"Go, go, go!" the taxi driver shouted gleefully as he stomped on the gas, practically sending them through the roof. "I love Americans!" (p. 23).
"Every branch had bad people in it," he said. "And there are plenty of good Ekats, too. I mean, where would we be without Edison? In the dark, that's where. Anyway, we don't know what branch we're in. We only know we're Cahills. If I had to choose a branch based on the bad guys, I wouldn't want to be part of any of them" (pp. 36-37).
To Go with the Meal:
Since this book focuses on different cities in Egypt, a teacher can focus lessons on ancient Egypt, Napoleon (and his role in Egypt), the Rosetta Stone, the work of various Egyptologists (and there are MANY mentioned in this book).
If a student is working through the entire series, a teacher could urge them to organize the famous members of the family into their branches graphically.
Tasty Rating: !!!