Great news! Miriam Jones Bradley has written a second mystery/adventure about the double cousins. (See my recommendation of The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Missing Watch, July 1, 2010.) In this new book, The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Torn Map, (Ambassador International, 2011) the six kids, ranging in age from eight to thirteen, and their grandparents are asked to come to Colorado and help Slim, their newly found cousin from the first story.

Slim’s father has found a torn map in an old clock. The map’s edges match up with a torn map that has been passed down in Slim’s family. What is it a map of? Where is it leading to? And when someone steals a copy of the map from one of the kids, will the kids be able to solve the mystery before the thief does?

One value of reading mysteries is that they encourage the reader to think through a problem and consider ways to solve it. This novel does that well. In their search for clues and answers the kids use experts, interview local historians, do research at the library, gather documents, read pertinent material and visit relevant sites. The kids do these activities enthusiastically; they are trying to solve a puzzle. I think child readers may see that some of the skills they are learning in school have fun applications.

Bradley’s book , however, is more than a puzzle.  The reader gets a little history as the plot switches back and forth between the present time and the time when the map was made during the Colorado Silver Rush of the 1880’s.

Bradley also strikes a good note on age-appropriate behavior. The children take the lead in solving the mystery, but they are not “superkids”left alone to solve it. They receive support from adults. The adults encourage the kids and model respect and safety. They also counsel the kids wisely, helping the kids at times keep their emotions from taking over.

This is a mystery with a Christian perspective. The  family is Christian. They rely on God and pray for themselves and others. They even show love and concern for the villain. They attend church and put that ahead of solving the mystery. They work together.  When the children misbehave,  they are corrected, but gently.

The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Torn Map is a good read for upper elementary boys and girls.