Title: Shadow of the Shark
Author: Mary Pope Osborne
Illustrator: Sal Murdocca
Publisher: Random House
Summary: Jack and Annie get a special thank-you holiday vacation from Merlin and Morgan. They ask to go to Cozumel and the Yucatan Peninsula for a snorkeling trip. Teddy gives them three magic gold coins and sends them away in their magic treehouse. Once there, Jack and Annie find a raft and go on their first adventure. They see beautiful underwater gardens… and then a shark. They have to use their first magic coin to escape the shark. Back on land, they notice they pyramid of Cozumel. Thinking this is a theme park, they use another magic coin to get $500 to spend at the park, for dinner, a nice hotel room, and a ferry ride back to where they left their magic treehouse. The problem is that this isn’t a theme park at all. It’s the actual pyramid with real Mayans. They have accidentally been sent to the Yucatan Peninsula over a thousand years ago in time. And the king believes Jack has been sent by the gods to be the next king, the Great Sun of Palenque. Luckily, the king’s daughter is willing to help them escape. She take them through the jungle at night, past a jaguar, a crocodile, and into the Underworld. Before they leave her, Annie records Jack with her phone. They make a video of Jack delivering a message to the king that girls can grow up to become great rulers. And that instead of looking for a boy, he should teach his daughter to become the next Great Sun. In exchange, she used their last magic coin to wish them a safe and fun trip back to their treehouse. What they didn’t know, was that she wished them a ride on the back of a giant whale shark. Jack and Annie arrived safely and returned home to Frog Creek, Pennsylvania.
Literary Merit: Combination of fact and fiction make these books fun to read and interesting as well. The use of Jack’s journaling and research make the stories appear more believable.
Kid Appeal: Magic Treehouse series fan are always ready for a new installment.
Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Early Chapter Book category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.