Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Audio : Audio Book
39 Clues #4 Beyond The Grave

39 Clues #4 Beyond The Grave

Fall 2009 Audio Book
Ages: 9 - 12 yrs.
CD Price: $19.95
Fans of the suspenseful 39 Clues series will enjoy the audio version of the fourth installment, Beyond the Grave. The series boasts a clever premise--each book is written by a different well-known author. In this case it's Jude Watson, aka National Book Award recipient Judy Blundell. The multitude of authors means that each new part of the series can follow fast on the heels of its predecessor--good news given the heart-pounding pace of the cliffhanger plotline.

As in the previous three books, siblings Amy and Dan Cahill are on a worldwide race to gather clues that will supposedly reveal why the Cahill family is one of the most powerful in history. Their problem is that the family also includes some less trustworthy and even downright dangerous members, all of who are on the same quest. In Book 4, the adventure leads them to Egypt and the Aswan High Dam. The story is packed with allusions and history lessons, referencing Napoleon and Churchill, Isis and Sahket. Issues such as personal destiny and whether or not power breeds corruption are raised throughout the series. The result is an exciting mix of kid-friendly action, mystery and humor, which manages to be surprisingly tender at times as well. Actor David Pittu reads animatedly, depicting a range of international accents and capturing the brother-sister banter of the two leads. The inclusion of trading card clues for a game tie-in are a marketing strategy on the part of the publisher, but they do help get readers even more engaged with the text.

Editor's note: This text refers to the audiobook edition.

Zarina Mullan Plath   ©2009 Parents' Choice
Zarina Mullan Plath has undergraduate degrees in both biology and English. Her interests include cookbooks/culinary history, South Asian literature (especially in regards to South Asians in America), and, of course, children's literature. Her poetry is included in the anthology Sweeping Beauty (U. of Iowa Press, 2005). Zarina lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two children, and assorted pets.

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