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Secret of the Three Treasures
Janni Lee Simner
Holiday House, 134 pages

Secret of the Three Treasures
Janni Lee Simner
Janni Lee Simner was born aboard a pirate ship, but as soon as she came of age booked passage with a caravan bound for the Sahara, and spent the next decade as a seeker of lost cities, hidden tombs, and ancient artifacts. While hiding from assassins in the lost Library of Alexandria, however, she discovered she really preferred telling stories, and so she settled down in the Sonoran desert to write, interrupted only by the occasional map-bearing stranger or man-eating Gila monster.

Janni Lee Simner Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sherwood Smith

Tiernay West's father travels the globe doing research for his adventure novels. Tiernay Markovitz's mother lives a useful live in a small northeastern town as mother to a daughter she intends to raise as responsible and practical. Tiernay is trying hard to be a good daughter to both her parents, who are now separated, but she really wants to be Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer.

She's put together adventure equipment just in case she does meet adventure -- and when she has to go out to dinner with Mom, her friend Greg, and his son Kevin, Tiernay practices by ordering squid and snails for dinner.

After stumbling onto the possibility of Revolutionary War gold buried in their Connecticut town, she knows that adventure has landed at last -- and whether anyone believes in the existence of the treasure or not, she is determined to find it. And prove herself.

Along the way she meets unexpected allies and foes, finds out surprising facts about her own family background -- and that of some of her friends. She discovers not one but three mysteries -- three treasures -- and learns along the way.

This middle-grade tale should appeal to the smart seven-year-old right on up to adulthood. What makes Secret of the Three Treasures work at a broad reader spectrum is the superb voice. The younger reader will love the humor and the excitement, the variety of characters in the school scenes. The teen reader who doesn't expect romance will enjoy the history and genealogy part of the mystery, and the humor and action. An adult will likely know where the story is going, but the voice is so delightful, so distinctive, it's a pleasure to get there. Tiernay is no carbon copy of Harriet the Spy, but she shows the same entertaining determination to be just who she is. Her trenchant observations had me snarfing my tea, especially the Walter Mitty-like internal story-lines she's got going during the most mundane (or embarrassing) moments, but unlike Mitty, who could only be a hero inside his own head as he was too timid to stand up for himself in the real world, Tiernay exhibits a matter-of-fact integrity: she is the same girl outside as she is inside, she just doesn't have the freedom and equipment -- yet -- to go adventuring after mysterious legends in Kathmandu. But by the end of her adventures you have no doubt that someday she will.

Copyright © 2006 Sherwood Smith

Sherwood Smith is a writer by vocation and reader by avocation. Her webpage is at

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