Can I start by saying that I love Jonathan W. Stokes’ writing? “Addison Cooke and the Ring of Destiny” continues the non-stop action and clever word play that began with “Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas” and “Addison Cooke and the Tomb of the Khan.”
Addison Cooke and his intrepid sister Molly come from a long line of archeologists, and he and his sister are no slouches. The two of them, along with Addison’s best friends Raj and Eddie, solve mysteries and travel around the world. Their adventures are usually accidental but they’re always dangerous. Addison is the brains and very much relies on his much worn copy of Fiddleton’s World Atlas. In fact, in this book he actually gets to meet his cartographer idol, Roland J. Fiddleton, in person. It’s a heady moment for Addison. In addition to Addison and Molly, whose speciality is fighting, Eddie plays a mean piano and can pick practically any lock, while Raj knows how to survive almost any situation and is a great lookout. Between the four and their varied skills, they have evaded situations in which death seemed almost a foregone conclusion. Until now.
Kids will love the nonstop action and the humor. Adults like parents, teachers, and librarians will love that while reading these books, the kids are learning history and geography without any pain. For example, when the kids visit Paris, we learn that it’s called the City of Light because Paris was one of the first cities to line its streets with street lamps. Also, Stokes shares, “The group dodged traffic crossing the Rue Saint-Denis, which was built by the Romans in the first century. They passed theaters and coffee shops and glimpsed the famous Canal Saint-Martin, ordered built by Napoleon in 1802.”
Adults and sophisticated middle grade readers will enjoy the word play. There is a scene at the beginning of the book when Addison is trying to play cricket at his British school. The language is incomprehensible. When someone throws a cricket ball at Addison’s head, his teammate indignantly says, “You can’t bowl a beaner at a bloke! That was a bean ball bowled at the batsman’s brains.” Alliteration non pareil. Much of the humor is gallows-style, like when Eddie complains that they are going through too many graveyards, and ‘Addison scooped up an arm bone from his path and used it to wave at Eddie. “I don’t suppose you find this humerus?”‘ And there are tongue twisters and unusual tenses that will cause readers to read sentences twice. “But all the hope Granddad Hadad had had had had no result.”
The plot moves quickly, and we find out more about the Cooke family history. The story is filled with fascinating tidbits of information, and students will not want to wait for the next installment in the adventures of these amazing four kids. The series is a great choice for adventure lovers and perfect for the shelves of a school library or classroom.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Philomel, the publisher, for review purposes.