Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black-Eden Unger Bowditch

The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black
Eden Unger Bowditch
Bancroft Press, Mar 15 2011, $19.95
ISBN: 9781610880022

In 1903, the Mysterious Men in Black take five highly intelligent children, offspring of the world's leading scientists, to Sole Manner Farm in Dayton, Ohio. Their parents have been taken also to a separate locale. Twelve year old Jasper and his six year old sister Lucy come from London; nine year old African-American Wallace is taken in New York; twelve year old Noah arrives from Toronto; and thirteen year old Faye is from India. Their schoolteacher Miss Brett provides her five wards with nurturing, but admits she does not know why they were abducted.

At the farm each is frightened while also feeling abandoned by their parents though logically they tell one another their parents were abducted too, which in turn embellishes their fears. They share hypothesis as to who the Mysterious Men in Black are and why they guard them in an outdoor prison; as they protect them but from what as their jailers could have killed them if that was their mission. The five children also wonder and fear what happened to their parents.

With a nod to Patrick Mcgoohan’s 1960s TV show The Prisoner, readers of all ages, though middle school children are the targeted audience, will appreciate this suspense thriller. The children make the tale work as each has their own skills and flaws, which in conjunction with the others; make them real and their traumatic predicament seem plausible. Although the descriptors of the Mysterious Men in Black is the only dumbing down element as the young adult readers will get the first time, fans will feel they are in Ohio wondering what The Atomic Weight of Secrets is.

Harriet Klausner

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