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The Danger Box

by Blue Balliett

Published by Scholastic Press, 2010
304 pages
ISBN: 978-0-439-85209-8

Ages 8 - 11

Legally blind and a compulsive list-maker, Zoomy is being raised by grandparents who make him feel like a treasure. He is smart and curious, and he can tell that whoever wrote the journal entries in the old notebook he found in a box in his grandparent’s garage was smart and curious, too. When Zoomy’s long-lost alcoholic father shows up asking questions about the box he left in the garage years before, Zoomy knows to keep quiet: His father feels dangerous. In the meantime, Zoomy meets Lorrol, a kindred spirit and the first friend he’s ever made, and shares his theory about the identity of the notebook’s original owner: Charles Darwin. There’s a lot going on in this latest outing from Blue Balliett that has multiple narrative elements, including a newspaper Zoomy and Lorrol start about Darwin titled The Gas Gazette. Although the “bad guys” are drawn with broad strokes in this mystery and everything turns out unbelievably fine, Zoomy and those closest to him, especially his grandparents, are wonderfully realized in a novel that offers a number of satisfyingly suspenseful moments as it imagines the fate of the very real missing Darwin journal chronicling his historic voyage on H.M.S. Beagle.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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