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The Treasure of Maria Mamoun by Michelle…
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The Treasure of Maria Mamoun

by Michelle Chalfoun

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This novel is realistic fiction.

Maria doesn’t like her life. In fact, there’s no happiness in it at all. She has one happy memory--going to the beach with her mom on a day off. Unfortunately, her mother works two jobs just to make ends meet. They live in the Bronx, which means Maria takes the train or buses wherever she needs to go or walks. Her mother leaves before she does and returns after Maria gets home from school, so Maria is lonely. On the walks and at school, Maria is treated badly by a group of girls that she labels the Bad Barbies. After they beat her to the ground, Maria’s mother believes a change is in order. As a nurse, she can live anywhere. Therefore, she finds a job tending to an old, rich man on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.

This move to the island gives Maria a new life. There’s fresh air, space, new food, and a treasure. On her first night, she finds a hidden map. Convinced it will lead to treasure, she begins investigating. She gets help from the “bad boy” of the island, Paolo, who really isn’t bad. She also gets help from the old man, whom she really likes. He also enjoys talking to her. He pays her to walk the dog and then she voluntarily spends time with him, reading to him and questioning him about the pirates in the area. Consequently, she and Paolo make a plan and have every intention of discovering this old treasure.

You’ll like the characters. The families are solid families; there isn’t any beating, abuse, or abandonment. This novel is just kids being kids--the adventure of seeking something new and the courage it takes to do something new. They, however, should have asked for more help from adults because they get in over their heads. It’s a really nice novel. The cover looks elementary, but I would say this novel is for fifth through seventh grade. ( )
  acargile | Oct 17, 2016 |
Michelle Chalfoun enters the world of juvenile fiction with the heartwarming "The Treasure of Maria Mamoun." Readers looking for a feel-good summer story can pick up Maria's story without hesitating. Maria is a Lebanese girl living in the Bronx with her overworked mother, Celeste. Maria has a rough time at school, especially with a certain group of vicious bullies nicknamed The Bad Barbies. When things come to a head between Maria and The Barbies, Celeste realizes that things have to change for their family. Celeste quits her multiple nursing jobs and takes a new position caring for the ailing, exceptionally wealthy Mr. Ironwall on Martha's Vinyard. Maria and Celeste quickly settle in, but when Maria discovers a treasure map in the attic of her cottage and befriends trouble-making Paolo, an adventure unfolds and culminates in a dangerous treasure hunt.
While readers will never truly fear for our heroine's safety, or the safety of those around her, "The Treasure of Maria Mamoun" will satisfy middle grade readers and advanced younger readers looking for a summer adventure. While not groundbreaking in story, it is wonderful to see a Lebanese girl take center stage in such an effortless way. Cultural notes are peppered throughout the story but never overtake the narrative. The relationship between Maria and her mother is quite believable, if a little rosy regarding the consequences of Maria's adventure. The resolution of the tale may be too pat for some readers, but this shouldn't affect the enjoyment of the story as a whole. Pick up Maria's tale for a warm and satisfying summer read. ( )
  einin | Jun 13, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374303401, Hardcover)

Twelve-year-old Maria lives a lonely, latchkey-kid's life in the Bronx. Her Lebanese mother is working two nursing jobs to keep them afloat, and Maria keeps her worries to herself, not wanting to be a burden. Then something happens one day between home and school that changes everything. Mom whisks them to an altogether different world on Martha's Vineyard, where she's found a job on a seaside estate. While the mysterious bedridden owner―a former film director―keeps her mother busy, Maria has the freedom to explore a place she thought could only exist in the movies. Making friends with a troublesome local character, Maria finds an old sailboat that could make a marvelous clubhouse. She also stumbles upon an old map that she is sure will lead to pirate's plunder―but golden treasure may not be the most valuable thing she discovers for herself this special summer.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 13 Jun 2016 02:21:01 -0400)

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