published April 27th
2010 by EgmontUSA
(first published October 5th 2007)
details Library Binding, 416 pages
Synopsis from Goodreads “In the ancient city of Itzamna, Lord Six-Rabbit wakes up screaming. A great warrior king of the mighty Maya, he has dreamed he was a lowly, flea-bitten monkey. How could this be? Was this some sorcery sent by his half-brother, Tzelok, the evil priest?
1200 years later, in Boston, Massachusetts, 14-year-old Max Murphy is looking forward to a family vacation. But his parents, both archaeologists and Maya experts, announce a change in plan. They must leave immediately for a dig in San Xavier, the tiny Central American country where his father grew up. Max will go to summer camp. Max is furious. He’s always suspected that his parents cared more about the Ancient May than about him and this proves it. When he’s mysteriously summoned to San Xavier, he thinks they’ve had a change of heart. But he’s met at the airport by one of their colleagues, who explains that his parents have gone missing at the remote Maya temple of Ix Chel. He also tells Max the legend of The Jaguar Stones, the five sacred stones of Middleworld (the Maya name for the world of men) which enabled Ancient May kings to wield the powers of living gods.
And so begins Max Murphy’s wild adventure in the tropical rainforests of San Xavier. During his journey, he will unlock ancient secrets and meet strangers who are connected to him in ways he could never have imagined. For fate has delivered a challenge of epic proportions to this papered teenager. Can Max rescue his parents from the Maya Underworld and save the world from the Lords of Death, who now control the power of the Jaguar Stones in their villainous hands? The scene is set for a roller-coaster ride of suspense and terror, as the good guys and the bad guys face off against a background of haunted temples, zombie armies and and human sacrifice.
This book was donated as an advanced reader copy from Egmont publishing, and I will say I love the cover. I think it pulls readers in with the rich detail and Mayan stone skulls in the water waves. Jaguar Stones book #1 reminded me a lot of Indiana Jones for middle grade readers.The first chapters revisit a lot of Mayan history and culture and the characters are mysterious and adventurous. I really enjoyed Max’s short stay a the “banana factory” and discoveries in the secret room.
I had a hard time with the main male Max and his spoiled attitude as well was hoping the relationship between him and his female sidekick would have had more lead up and development. I found myself annoyed with some of the dialogue between the two main heroes because of Max’s attitude and her nickname for him, “Hup.”
That being said, though, I do think it is a great read for middle grades and one which will feed your child’s imagination. There are black and white illustrations scattered through the book which I really think add to the story. “Middleworld” is free of any swearing or mature situations which as a mom I truly appreciate. It is a fun book with loads of potential as an interesting series! And it will leave you wanting to learn more about ancient history which is a gift. Thanks so much to the publishers for letting me get a sneak peek. It is available on the shelves now! Please eamil me with your mailing address if you are interested in reading Middleworld as a part of our ARC tour and be sure to enter the Jaguar Stone earring contest below!