Patterson ventures back into kids’ literature

Carol A. Wright

By A Contributor

ARRRGH! Now listen up maties. ‘Ave ye herd the news?

Pirate James Patterson ‘as sailed the six seas…err…wait a minute…better make that seven seas, and ‘as brought back tales of the lost ship ‘Lost,’ treasure hunting, island hopping, children on a mission, parents and treasure gone a’missin, treason, a poor excuse for villains (aye, what a sight fer sore eyes) plus a whole barrelful of jokes — some lame, some what a shame and some that are actually pretty funny darned.

Aye, that’s what I meant to say!

In “Treasure Hunters,” as in the popular Middle School books, Patterson takes a different route, which has earned him even more respect from those who are familiar with his novels of suspense — the Alex Cross and Women’s Murder Club series, “Confessions of a Murder Suspect,” “Mistress,” the Michael Bennett series, etc. — and now a new group of kids, adults and educators are raving about the author’s concern and pledge to get kids to read and to also help parents stimulate in their children a desire to continuing reading throughout their lifetime.

One could say that Patterson serves as a good Capt. Hook because young people all across the globe devour these books like crocodiles clutch their prey.

And, what’s more, the kids find it hard to refuse what Patterson has to offer: entertaining stories packed with action, fun, great plots and lively characters.

Patterson has appeared on numerous television programs, CNN and the Today Show for example, and has been featured in “Time” and “AARP” magazines. He encourages positive reading habits and stresses the importance of reading, often claiming that people should not rely on the educational system or schools to enforce such a positive change. In one network interview, he stated:

“It is our responsibility to get our kids reading and we cannot rely on schools, teachers and government to get our kids reading. Only parents can make this crucial change in the reading habits of our kids.”

Patterson carries a strong voice in any community, large or small, and has been successful in carrying out campaigns that promote reading. I was impressed by his numerous donations of books to schools within the United States and internationally to troops overseas. In addition, many students have gratefully benefited from the author’s College Book Bucks scholarships.

There are other people who, when seeing Patterson advertise his books on television, think that his cause is purely self-promotion.

While it is true that he seems to get a book published almost every other month or so (one was supposed to be released Jan. 14, the next in February and another in March), and that more than 275 million copies have been sold worldwide, most people, like myself, have now come to believe that he is seriously dedicated to his own personal mission, even though he may appear a bit ridiculous in his TV book promos.

“Treasure Hunters” is the first in a new series that was introduced to kids and their friends back in September. And today it continues to fascinate the young and young-at-heart.

What better way to cure those winter blues than picturing four kids, including a pair of twins, on board the ship, “Lost,” traveling with their dad, “The Thomas Kidd,” famous archaeologist and oceanographer, exploring caves and collecting or retrieving treasures that have gone missing.

Things suddenly take a turn for the worse when “Lost” does get lost at sea during a massive storm and dad mysteriously goes missing from the ship.

The siblings must work together to pick up where their dad had left off by locating precious artifacts, finding their father and rescuing their mother who is believed to have been captured and is being held in Cyprus.

Although the book seems to have dire consequences for the lot, it is really a funny read. The kids meet all kinds of strangers (and strange people who are more like blockheads), must decide who’s trustworthy, fight and yell at one another just like most brothers and sisters do, and there’s plenty of silly underwater and on land action that will keep kids interested and guessing what will happen in the next installment.

Overall, “Treasure Hunters” is an exciting read with wonderfully silly illustrations by Juliana Neufeld. Her illustrations, along with Patterson’s storytelling talent, make it a joy for kids.

Carol A. Wright is a former Manhattan resident who currently works as a freelance writer.

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