"This fast-paced adventure story would be perfect for struggling readers. The story captures the reader's interest from the beginning and holds it throughout. The clues are easy to follow, and the book would be a good introduction to mystery stories."
"Jones festoons this quick read with several well-shaped action sequences and a steady application of danger in the guise of both the elements and the treasure-seeking villain. An entry in the reliable reluctant-reader Orca Currents series, this story holds plenty of appeal for outdoor enthusiasts looking to fill some of those armchair moments."
"The brother-sister relationship between Simon and Ellen is rightly used as tension to its full extent...Information about tides and Juan de Fuca (an European explorer for whom the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Juan de Fuca plate are named after) is inserted carefully and without intrusion and provides an enriched reading experience. Recommended."
"The pace is relentless and the wild, exotic and beautiful setting of the coastal island will intrigue readers who are unfamiliar with coastal life. Action oriented Simon and the responsible clever Ellen will appeal to the intended readers, both boys and girls, who are struggling with reading."
Twelve-year-old Simon and his older sister Ellen live with their parents on a lighthouse island near Victoria, British Columbia. In this short, simple novel, Simon and Ellen stay on the island for the day while their parents go to Victoria to testify to the importance of keeping their lighthouse station open. Simon plans to enjoy the whole day, but Ellen insists that he do his chores before he takes off. He is slightly concerned when he sees muddy footprints on the dock near the boat shed and then discovers that someone has pitched a tent beside the light tower. No one answers when he calls out, and when he brings Ellen back a few minutes later the tent has disappeared. The weather has now turned stormy, and they see a man fighting for his life in the bay beyond the lighthouse. Knowing that no one else can help, they row through the wind and waves to save him. Once they get him into their house they radio the Coast Guard for an ambulance, but the weather is too rough for a rescue and their parents will not be able to get home either. Inside the lighthouse, they find the stranger's tent on the ground level. Searching it for his identification turns up his name, an old treasure map, and a riddle. Because the man is hallucinating and yelling at them before he falls back to sleep, Simon and Ellen lock themselves in their parents' room for the night. The next morning, the man is gone and Simon begins to wonder if there really is a treasure and if he can save the lighthouse from closing if he finds it. Between them, Simon and Ellen figure out the meaning of the riddle and the location of the treasure, but when they go after it, the stranger chases them. As the tide comes in, they manage to strand him on a rock. The Coast Guard and their parents arrive soon after, and they discover that the treasure is a very old and therefore valuable astrolabe and that the stranger is a dealer in stolen antiques. The dangerous situations, fast pace, and straightforward language and structure are likely to appeal to reluctant readers. Reviewer: Judy DaPolito
Children's Literature - Judy DaPolito
Gr 5–8—With his mom and dad off-island, Simon is looking forward to enjoying some free time. However, a freak storm blows in, and he is torn between his responsibilities at the lighthouse that he and his family call home and discovering the identity of a mysterious stranger who arrives just before the storm begins. After Simon and his sister Ellen rescue the man from nearly drowning, they realize that he's connected to a perplexing mystery—hidden treasure buried somewhere on the island. They resolve to find an ancient artifact that once belonged to Juan de Fuca as a way to save their lighthouse from being closed by the government. Though the Canadian island setting and race against all odds are compelling, readers who are not familiar with the ocean, sailing, or nautical terms will have a hard time visualizing much of the action. Further weighing down the story is the forced dialogue that seems even more artificial in the remote setting. Finally, readers will feel as disappointed as Simon in the anticlimactic ending. Struggling readers, especially those on the East coast, may not have the background knowledge to understand the significance of the treasure or know who the explorer is. Steer clear of Storm Tide.—H. H. Henderson, Heritage Middle School, Deltona, FL