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THE DANGER BOX by Blue Balliett


by Blue Balliett

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-439-85209-8
Publisher: Scholastic

Balliett delivers a loosely constructed tale about a modern lad who discovers an exciting connection between himself and Charles Darwin. In a box dropped off by his sociopathic father, Zoomy finds a battered old notebook whose unidentified author was—like Zoomy—compulsive about making lists of tasks and methodically checking off each item in succession. The word “Galapagos” and other clues in the book prompt visits to the local library, where Zoomy makes a high-energy new friend in summer visitor Lorrol. Together the two immerse themselves in a study of Darwin’s life and plan a series of broadsheets (reproduced within) containing extracts from the scientist’s writings. Around these and other info-dumps the author wraps an engaging picture of Zoomy’s life with loving, sensitive grandparents. But a rococo chain of events that begins with the notebook’s theft and climaxes in a contrived fire seems inserted just to move the plot along while providing a demonstration of small-town values in action. Unlike the author’s previous outings, here her enthusiasm for historical research seems to outweigh her interest in creating a well-founded story. (Mystery. 11-13)