Several of the historical fictions I’ve read lately have been a bit on the glum side. That’s not a problem, because the stories were centered on the lives of children who could have actually lived during the time depicted in the story. The tales were depressing because of the harshness of life at that time in history. But there was hope and victory for the children who persevered.
A few days ago I finished a historical adventure tale that takes place in modern day, but which references historical events and places. I’m not sure of the exact genre such a tale falls into, but it was certainly a fun read.
The title of the novel is Gasparilla’s Treasure, and is written by Scott Clements. I’m in no way an official reviewer, but I think that many MG readers would enjoy this one. Here is a short blurb:
Trip Montgomery has no idea what is in store for him when he finds the dusty old trunk hidden under the floorboards in his mom’s attic. The trunk reveals a series of mysteries that send him on the greatest adventure of his life. Will his best friend Josh and his new friend Sarah be able to help Trip solve the clues that lead to the greatest treasure ever known to man? Or will Trip’s obsession with the treasure drive him deep into the disorienting dreamland of his great grandfather Pappy?
The tale revolves around three young friends, Trip, Josh, and Sarah, who must find and follow clues to a legendary treasure left behind by the pirate, Gasparilla. Trip’s grandfather insists that the treasure is real, even though Trip’s mother is fed up with the quest that has caused her so much grief.
Trip’s mother isn’t the kids’ only roadblock. The school bully and his thugs cause all kinds of havoc while the trio of treasure hunters deciphers the clues that are scattered around the historic town of St. Augustine, Florida.
There were many aspects of this tale that I found enjoyable. Mr. Clements weaves a riveting tale for anyone who loves a good treasure hunt. His characters are all believable and interesting. Each of the friends has distinct personality traits that make them engaging and fun. I admit to not checking every historical reference, but each of the ones I did check proved to be accurate.
The story arc was well developed and smoothly transitioned from scene to scene. The characters moved along in an orderly progression in their search for clues, and the clues and minor characters were presented in interesting and unique ways. I found the history teacher to be rather predictable, but enjoyable, nonetheless. Many readers will enjoy him, I predict.
The setting made this especially entertaining because of all the historical tidbits that were interspersed within the storyline. Forts and landmarks dating back to the Spanish Conquistadors were brought to life for the reader to explore, with a splash of fun facts thrown in to add texture to the setting.
I liked the way Mr. Clements shows us how much Trip loves and cares for his ailing grandfather. Although this is a tale of adventure and fun, it’s also a story of family and the lengths a young boy will go to in order to fulfill his grandfather’s last wishes. Although, based on the ending paragraphs, it just might be possible that Trip’s grandfather may be around for the next adventure.
This is a very entertaining read from a first-time author. There were places where I personally think the writing could have been tightened up quite a bit, and perhaps a slightly heavier hand could have been used by a skilled proofreader. However, it shows much promise for additional interesting reading to come. I’m looking forward to the next installment of these three likeable kids.