For thirteen-year-old Ellsworth, family has always been just him and his dad. That's all Ellsworth thought he wanted. But then the dreams start. Dreams of houses surrounding a beautiful green square. Suddenly a letter arrives, inviting Ellsworth to a home he doesn't remember: the Square in Smith Mills, New York. A home with a hidden treasure only a child can uncover--the last treasure of John Matthew Smith, the family's eccentric patriarch. But there are other things hidden in the Square. Can Ellsworth set these ghosts to rest and uncover the family's last treasure--or will the secrets of the past haunt him forever?
This supernatural mystery takes off at a clip, then holds readers' interest right up to the end. With the exception of a few of his widower father's tantalizing stories, about the 10 houses built on "the Square around the Sward" in the late 1800s by patriarch John Matthew Smith and the treasures hidden in three of them, Ellsworth Smith knows almost nothing about his extended family. But on his 13th birthday, Ellsworth receives a letter from his great-aunt, whom he's never met, summoning him to the Smiths' ancestral home to "claim his birthright [and] solve the puzzle of the last treasure"; apparently, only a child can locate the treasure, meant to be used in time of great need. Against his father's wishes, Ellsworth travels to the Square, to which a distant cousin, 13-year-old Jess, has also come. The two engage in a compelling hunt and an equally absorbing exploration of family history. Anderson (Going Through the Gate) builds clues effectively, deftly involving the restless ghost of John Matthew and other highly charged elements, including messages sent in dreams and cats that carry out John Matthew's wishes. Flashbacks chronicle the critical junctures when past generations of Smith children searched for treasure, enriching the story without slackening the pace. A densely woven novel with a thoughtfully delivered message about the riches of family. Ages 10-14. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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November 17, 2004
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