Below the Surface

Orca. (Orca Currents). Apr. 2023. 112p. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781459834538.
Gr 4-7–Thirteen-year-old Theo’s favorite hobby is treasure hunting and returning stuff to their rightful owners. When his hunting exploits uncover an old pocket watch that’s been buried for 60 years, he posts it on his social media. As a result, a threatening comment tells him to return the watch or else. Soon, Theo is deeply embroiled in solving an old ghost story. With his friend Syd, the two start poring over old newspapers and contacting a possible descendant of a young traveler who mysteriously died in 1967. How do the pocket watch, traveler, and mysterious comment tie together? The plot is engaging and full of twists and turns. Characters are fairly well developed and realistic. Interactions with other characters help bring Theo’s world to life. The writing style complements the story well and adeptly brings the mystery together. The layout is dyslexic-friendly with heavy bottom fonts, letter spacing, and white space. Characters are cued as white. The book is written at a third grade reading level.
VERDICT Reluctant readers interested in mystery, treasure hunting, and ghost stories will want to pick this one up. Recommended for library collections where ghost stories and mysteries are popular.

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