Twelve-year-old Addison Cooke just wishes something exciting would happen to him. His aunt and uncle, both world-famous researchers, travel to the ends of the earth searching for hidden treasure, dodging dangerous robbers along the way, while Addison is stuck in school all day. Luckily for Addison, adventure has a way of finding the Cookes. After his uncle unearths the first ancient Incan clue needed to find a vast trove of lost treasure, he is kidnapped by members of a shadowy organization intent on stealing the riches. Addison’s uncle is the bandits’ key to deciphering the ancient clues and looting the treasure . . . unless Addison and his friends can outsmart the kidnappers and crack the code first!
Full of laugh-out-loud moments, danger, excitement, and nonstop action, Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas is sure to strike gold with kid readers.
"What to give the kid who's read all the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books? Try Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas." —Parents Magazine
"An exciting Indiana Jones-style tale of a seventh-grade boy trying to save his kidnapped aunt and uncle—museum curators who are linked to an ancient key that unlocks riches.” —Good Housekeeping
"An exciting, adventurous new read…the first book in a new series that promises laugh-out-loud moments and nonstop action." —Boys’ Life
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Chapter One: Fear of Heights
Addison Cooke sat cross-legged in the school library, engrossed in an Incan history book. Under the spell of a decent read, Addison could forget meals, forget sleep, and even forget to go to class. He could forget to go to school or, once at school, forget to go home. This was, in fact, the current situation.
The school bell had rung ages ago, and Addison had missed it entirely.
Addison’s little sister, Molly, sprinted into the library. She was still wearing soccer cleats and shin guards from intramural practice.
“Addison!” she hissed.
Addison perked up, looked around for the source of the whisper, and spotted his sister.
“Molly, what are you doing down there?”
“Me? What are you doing on top of the bookshelf?”
Addison was, at present, perched on top of a six-foot bookshelf.
“Overcoming my fear of heights. And reading up on Incan history. It’s called multitasking.”
Addison, like any seventh grader at Public School 141, sported a tidy uniform: a sharp blazer, power tie, and khaki pants. Never wanting to blend in, he topped off his uniform with a smart ivy cap perched on his head at a rakish angle.
Molly, a sixth grader, had more than a decade of solid experience with Addison’s odd behavior. She was more or less used to it. “I ran to your classroom to find you, but Ms. Johnson said you weren’t in class all afternoon.”
“I got a nurse’s pass.”
“But you’re not sick.”
“Naturally. I got the nurse’s pass from Eddie Chang,” Addison explained. “He was sick last week. I traded him his nurse’s pass for an owl pellet.”
“What’s an owl pellet?”
“You ask too many questions. You should consider a career in tabloid reporting, or police interrogation.”
“Addison, skipping all these classes could catch up to you.”
“I’ve gotten by so far. Besides, I’m only skipping class to further my education.”
Addison Cooke possessed infinite confidence in all things Addison Cooke.
Molly Cooke, however, did not share this same feeling. “Well, hurry up,” she said, whispering as loudly as the library allowed. “We have two strikes with Aunt Delia already. If we miss the bus again, she’ll kill us!”
“Somehow, I doubt that. She is our flesh and blood.”
“She’ll at least ground us,” Molly growled.
Even Addison saw the truth in this. He sighed, gathered his library books into his messenger bag, and began climbing down the tall bookshelf.
“No need to panic, Molly.”
“I’m not panicking!”
“Sooner or later, you are going to learn that I have everything under control.”
Addison stepped on a loose shelf. It overturned, flipping all the books—and Addison—onto the ground.
He landed hard on his back.
“I’m all right.”
Molly looked down at him, knuckles on her hips. “And you’re supposed to be a good influence on me.”
Addison hurriedly reshelved the books before sprinting after Molly.
Addison and Molly burst out of the front doors of PS 141, Theodore Roosevelt Middle School, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. They watched the last school bus disappear, turning right on 72nd Street toward Central Park.
“C’mon, Molly. We’ll catch them at Columbus Avenue!”
“We’re supposed to outrun a school bus?”
“I could use the exercise—I skipped PE today. Besides, you already have your running shoes on.”
“These are soccer cleats!”
But Addison had already taken off running. Molly chased after him, her cleats clacking like maracas on the pavement.
They dashed past the hot-dog vendor with his rolling cart. Past the cook fire smells of the pretzel vendor. They sprinted past Mr. Karabidian’s ice cream cart.
“Missed the bus again, Addison?” called Mr. Karabidian.
“Time waits for no man,” replied Addison as he flew by, “and neither does the bus.” Addison put on a fresh burst of speed, now struggling to keep pace with Molly.
“The shortcut!” she called, ducking down a service alley. They bolted along loading docks and leapt over shipping flats, Addison desperate not to lose any of his Incan library books.
Turbaned men reclining on blankets played chess in the shade of the alleyway. Women with machetes shaved ice behind the Thai restaurant. Addison and Molly swept past them with the speed of two scalded squirrels.
They emerged from the alley at full tilt, upsetting a flock of warbling pigeons on Central Park West. “There it is!” Addison called, pointing.
Molly watched in dismay as their school bus chugged uptown, passing the 79th Street Transverse. It trundled into the distance, disappearing in the afternoon traffic.
“Great.” Molly squatted down to retie her cleats.
“Never fear, young relative. We will catch a taxi.”
“We’re not allowed to take taxis.”
“I’m glad you mentioned that. Because I cannot afford a taxi.”
“We’ve got to hurry. Aunt Delia will be home any minute!”
Addison surveyed the bustling Manhattan street traffic. “The important thing is to remain levelheaded and to make use of one’s environment.”
“That’s two things. And you sound just like Uncle Nigel.”
“Thank you.” Addison beamed. “You know, the taxi is not the fastest animal in the concrete jungle. That honor belongs to the Bike Messenger.” Addison knew there were few creatures in any jungle more quick, daring, and potentially lethal than a New York City Bike Messenger. “I will just flag one down.”
For Addison, having an idea was the same thing as acting on it. He jumped in front of the speeding path of a passing bike messenger. The cyclist spotted Addison flapping his arms and swerved hard at the last moment, brakes squealing.
“Watch it, kid!” shouted the bike messenger, skidding to a stop.
“Sir, I apologize, but I require your services.”
“You could have gotten me killed!”
“A small price to pay for what is at stake,” Addison calmly replied.
“You need a delivery?”
“In a word, yes.”
“Got any money?”
“I’m listening,” said the bike messenger.
“I need you to take me and my sister home.”
“I deliver packages, not kids.”
“What’s the difference?”
The bike messenger considered this question, probably for the first time in his life. “Size, mostly.”
“If you take us home, I can pay you when we get there,” suggested Addison.
“If you grow wings, I won’t need to take you,” the bike messenger replied.
“Fair enough.” Addison slipped off his school dress shoe and peeled five crumpled one-dollar bills from under his insole. “I keep emergency funds for just such scenarios. How far uptown will five dollars get me?”
“73rd Street,” said the bike messenger.
“We’re on 73rd Street,” Addison observed.
“All right, 76th.”
“Make it 86th Street, and you’ve got yourself a deal.”
“79th and not one inch farther.”
“I’ll take it.”
Addison climbed on the bicycle seat, which was pretty high off the ground for him. Molly balanced her cleats on the rear wheel axle, her hands on Addison’s shoulders. The bike messenger rode seatless, huffing and puffing to get the cycle moving.
Soon they careened through the Manhattan streets at breakneck speed. Pedestrians yelped and leapt out of their speeding path. Molly clung to Addison, who clung to the bike messenger. Addison’s tie flapped behind him; Molly squinted her eyes in the headwind. They wove through traffic, slicing within inches of passing cars.
“I could get used to this,” said Addison.
“We’re there,” said the bike messenger, squeaking to a stop.
Molly dismounted, looking grateful to be alive. Addison straightened his windblown hair and thanked the bike messenger.
“Truth is, I was going this direction anyway,” said the messenger. “But I figured I might as well get paid for it.”
“I respect your entrepreneurial spirit,” said Addison.
“Kid, here’s my card if you ever need anything.”
Addison gratefully accepted the bike messenger’s business card and offered his own in exchange. In impeccable felt-tipped penmanship, Addison’s card read:
The bike messenger cocked his knuckles to his cap, saluting Addison. He set foot to pedal, ready to cycle north. “Got a tip?”
“Absolutely,” Addison replied. “You shouldn’t let kids ride without helmets.”
Addison and Molly raced the final seven blocks to their apartment building on West 86th Street. Addison skidded to a halt, his jaw dropped in horror. Aunt Delia was already climbing the front steps of their brownstone apartment building.
“We’re so busted!” Molly exclaimed.
“We can’t afford another grounding. Let’s try the back door.”
“Addison—we live on the fifth floor—there is no back door.”
“True. But there is a fire escape.”
Molly and Addison dashed into the back alley, frightening a skulking cat. The siblings clambered on top of the alley Dumpster to reach the wrought-iron rungs of the fire-escape ladder. Addison began climbing.
“C’mon, hurry up,” urged Molly.
Halfway up the ladder, Addison froze. He stared down at the pavement far below, entranced.
“Could you go any slower?”
“Just give me a sec,” said Addison.
Molly sighed. “It’s your fear of heights, isn’t it?”
“I’ll be fine.”
“Let’s call for Raj or Eddie. If their windows are open, they’ll come out and help you.”
“If you shout for them, Aunt Delia will hear you.”
Molly caught up to Addison on the ladder. “Just don’t look down. Take deep breaths. You’ll be okay.”
“I don’t need help. I’m fine!”
Addison’s legs shook. His heart beat against his ribs like a gorilla rattling the bars of its cage.
He sighed and shut his eyes, realizing he couldn’t possibly climb to the fifth floor. Slowly, Addison climbed back down to the Dumpster, defeated. He carefully lowered himself to the pavement. Feet on solid earth again, Addison took a moment to collect his breath.
“I don’t understand it,” said Molly. “When are you going to get over this phobia?”
“Forget it. Let’s just go in the front door before Aunt Delia calls in the National Guard. We’re in deep enough already.”
Furious with himself, Addison quietly led Molly out of the alleyway.
Aunt Delia shook her head back and forth so that her ponytail wagged. She had the frazzled look of a person with three days’ worth of work to do and only three hours to do it. She folded her tortoiseshell glasses and set them loudly on the counter.
Addison and Molly stared meekly at the black and white tiles of the kitchen floor.
“Addison, it’s like you never listen,” said Aunt Delia, wringing her hands.
“I do listen. I just never follow instructions,” Addison corrected.
Aunt Delia held up one palm, silencing Addison. “I don’t want to hear it.”
Addison pursed his lips and did his best to hold his peace.
“You’re grounded,” said Aunt Delia. “Again,” she added. “No television, no sleepovers . . .” Aunt Delia wound up for her knockout punch. “And, Addison—no visits to Bruno’s Fossil Emporium for a month.”
“No lip, Addison. This is about more than following instructions. When you give me your word, I need to know I can trust you. You need to start accepting some responsibility. Traveling the city by yourself—what if something had happened to you?”
“I wish something would happen to me,” Addison blurted out. “School is unimaginably, inconceivably, impossibly boring. You and Uncle Nigel are always leaving the country. Flying to excavations. Seeing the world. If I could leave school, I might actually learn something.”
“Is that why you keep getting into trouble? Because your uncle and I have to work?”
“Every time you fly out of the country, you leave Molly and me behind.”
“Only during the school year,” Aunt Delia countered.
“Well, I’m ready for more. I’m almost thirteen. In some countries, I’d be married by now!”
“Addison missed all his afternoon classes to hide in the library and read about Incan treasure,” Molly put in helpfully.
“Molly!” hissed Addison.
“Incan treasure?” cried Aunt Delia.
“Molly wants to get out of here, too. We’re tired of being cooped up in school while you and Uncle Nigel trot around the globe.”
“Don’t drag your sister into this, Addison. Molly—unlike you—has never broken a rule in her life. I refuse to believe she is longing for a life of adventure, when she can’t even take the garbage down to the trash chute by herself.”
“Can’t, or won’t?” Addison replied.
Aunt Delia stepped out of her high heels, hung her coat in the closet, and set her briefcase down on the table with a clatter. She took a deep breath and ran a hand across her forehead. “Addison, I will spend more time with you when the museum gets back on its feet. Until then, your uncle and I need to work hard so you and Molly have a roof to eat and food to sleep under.”
“I think you got that backward,” Molly suggested.
Aunt Delia rubbed the dark bags under her eyes and sighed, exhausted. “Addison, I don’t have time to pick you up from after-school detentions. I don’t have time for more soul-draining teacher meetings about you getting into trouble with Eddie and Raj.”
Aunt Delia took Addison by his wrists and looked him in the eyes. “There is only one of you, and only one of Molly. That makes each of you more rare and valuable than Incan gold. Do you understand why I’m upset?”
“I don’t make rules just to be mean. I make rules to prevent you from being—I don’t know—kidnapped.”
Addison nodded again, seeing the sense in this.
“We have to stick together, all right?”
“All right,” said Addison. “Stick together. I promise.”
Addison and Molly shared a bunk bed in their room of Aunt Delia’s two-bedroom apartment. Molly’s half of the room was strewn with mismatched socks, grass-stained soccer shorts, and mud-caked sports jerseys. Addison’s half of the room was as pristine and immaculate as a NASA science lab.
Roosting pigeons cooed on the window ledge, watching the afternoon descend into night. Rising wind and brooding gray clouds betrayed a gathering storm.
“Why do we have to stay with Uncle Nigel this weekend?” Molly asked.
Addison packed clothes and books into his backpack. “Because Aunt Delia’s working.”
“But why do we have to stay with Uncle Nigel at the museum?”
“Because Uncle Nigel’s working.”
“Why are they always working?”
“Like Aunt Delia said—to take care of us.”
“By ignoring us?”
“More or less,” said Addison.
He carefully packed his microscope and calligraphy pens. He swiped a pocket notebook off his desk drawer and tucked it in his jacket. His notebooks contained sketches of birds and mammals he observed in the park, as well as pressed leaves and beetles. Addison’s uncle always needled him on the first rule of archaeology: record everything.
Molly collected socks from the floor and tossed them across the room, making three-point shots into her laundry hamper. “I don’t want them to get divorced. It will be like losing our parents a second time.”
“It’s just a trial separation.” This was not Addison’s favorite topic. “We’ve never counted on adults before. We take care of ourselves, right?”
Molly zipped up her backpack and sat on her bed. “Why is our family so weird?”
“Have I mentioned that you ask too many questions?”
Molly looked at Addison and frowned. She blew a wisp of hair from her eyes. Somehow, there was always one wisp that managed to escape her ponytail.
Addison wedged a few more Incan books into his backpack, struggling to close the zipper. “Listen, Mo. What’s the most important thing in the world?”
“Frank’s Pizza on 23rd and Lexington.”
“True,” Addison admitted. “But the second-most important thing is a good attitude. We can’t control what happens to us. But we can control how we feel about it.”
Molly considered this. Outside, the clouds burst. She looked out at the first rivulets of rain, tracing tracks down the window, dividing the world into pieces. The tapping drops grew to a drumroll, announcing the storm’s arrival with a crashing timpani of thunder.