What would you put in your danger box, a secret hiding place for the most important items in your life? For young Zoomy Chamberlain, a 12-year-old legally blind nervous boy in a small town, it's the old notebook he hides in his box that ends up changing his life forever. Is it the fact that this act helps him find his first true friend, a spunky young firecracker of a girl named Lorrol, who helps him publish an anonymous free newspaper with clues about the identity of a "mysterious soul?" Or is it because it brings his absentee alcoholic father back into his life? Perhaps it's the fact that the notebook just may have been stolen 25 years earlier from a museum in London, and that it contains some of the most startling and controversial ideas to ever be published? I don't remember, so read the book and find out for yourself!
This is an interesting, slightly mysterious book about an unusual but very likable boy, a famous naturalist named Charles Darwin (ring a bell?), and two well-meaning grandparents trying to raise their grandson the best way they know how as they try to make ends meet. It's a story of friendship, of family, of investigative journalism, theft, lying, and coming clean in the end. It's a story that you wouldn't expect from anyone but Blue Balliett or maybe E.L. Konigsburg, who have both written a number of brainy books that people like me love, but that typical students sometimes have trouble sinking their teeth into. This book is not part of the Chasing Vermeer series, and may be the most accessible of Ms. Balliett's books yet, for the common kiddo.