May 27, 2010

Review The Jaguar Stones Book One: Middleworld by J&P Voelkel

Title: Middleworld
Author: J&P Voelkel
Publisher: EgmontUSA

From Back of the Book:
Fourteen-year-old Max Murphy, video-gamer extraordinaire, is furious when his archacologist parents cancel the family vacation to go on a dig in Central America.  But things go from bad to worse when Max is summoned to join them, only to discover that his parents have vanished.  With the help of Lola, a fast-talking, quick-thinking Maya girl, Max embarks on a quest to find out just what's going on.  Soon Max and Lola are running for their lives in the perilous rainforest, as they unlock ancient secrets, meet mysterious strangers, and begin to understand that, in San Xaxier, nothing is ever as it seems.

Fate has delivered a challenge of epic proportions to Max Murphy. But can a teen whose biggest talent is for video games rescue his parents from the Maya Underworld and save himself from the villainous Lords of Death?

My Review
I love the Indiana Jones movies with all the adventure mixed in with fact, history, legend and lore. When I saw the summary for Middleworld I was immediately intrigued because it reminded me of a story you might see Indiana in! I was also interested because it told about the Mayan culture - something I knew very little about. With fingers crossed that I would like the story, I began to read.  I will be honest and say the preface really made me worried about the rest of the book.  The preface takes place during Mayan times, and I was confused throughout most of it.  If the rest of the book took place that far in the past I didn't know if I could finish it! BUT when it switched to present time it took off! Within the first chapter Max's parents leave him to go off on a dig.  Max was not happy and, to tell you the truth, I didn't blame him! Here he was all excited to go on a family vacation to Italy, and his parents cancel it and leave him alone. Any kids could relate to Max's reaction and be on his side.

Soon tho he's pulled from his safe home and summoned to his uncle's house in San Xavier near where his parents are on the dig.  Within hours of meeting his uncle the action starts when he watches his uncle do business with a very evil seeming man.  You know right away there are a lot of secrets surrounding his uncle and even his own parents - who seemed to be missing. I like that it jumped into the action right away because it kept me from getting bored, so I knew it would be the same for my students.

Not long later Max sneaks out in the middle of the night thinking he can help a situation he sees.  Instead he becomes lost in the jungle.  He is found by Lola - a girl I loved! She was spunky, smart, outspoken and self confident! Max, on the other hand is not impressed.  He complains to her- a lot - about everything! Honestly if Max hadn't realized how bad his behavior was when he did - I don't think I could've taken him much long.  His whining was getting to me!

Shades of Indiana Jones come in as Lola and Max find her friend Hermanjilio, and expert in Maya culture.  They go after the Jaguar Stones - bringing the past into the future in the form of two howler monkeys.  I loved the use of the monkeys.  Lady Coco - who I thought I wouldn't like at first - turned out to be fantastic! She made me laugh several times because she loved the fact she didn't have to be so ladylike in her new form.

Ok after rambling through this review I'll give you my short version.  I enjoyed the action.  I loved learning about the Mayans.  I adored how strong Lola was.  I loved the lessons Max learned.  And I laughed at Lady Coco.  I'd definately read the next book :) Clear enough for ya?

Final Thought: I believe my final thought is best said by a quote from the book
       "As I see it," said Max, "all that stands between humankind and the end of the world is two talking monkeys, a crazy archaeologiest covered in red paint, and a couple of kids with blowguns. Am I right?"

Best stick-with-you image: Um, Lady Coco letting out some, um, unlady like sounds to distract bodyguards.

Best for ages: 12+ I think even adults could learn from this book

To learn more about the authors and their adventures and the series you must check out the website for The Jaguar Stones
GO HERE! to see it.

And pssst-teachers and librarians - they have some good stuff for you!


  1. Great review! I was trying to decide whether to read this or not, and your review definitely pushed me towards "yes."

  2. I read this one a while ago and after finishing it, I felt like I learned so much about the Mayans and their culture.