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Search for the Shadowman (Joan Lowery Nixon)

by Joan Lowery Nixon

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I read this novel when I was serving on a panel to evaluate juvenile novels for an elementary school. It tells the story of a child’s search for a black sheep ancestor, who turns out to be innocent of the crime of which he is accused. An interesting situation arises in which the child’s research has an immediate, difficult impact on the people he cares about most. An excellent book. No problems. ( )
  baobab | Nov 10, 2010 |
Four-time Edgar Award winner and "half-Texan" Nixon set this mystery for 8-12 year-olds in Texas, and incorporates a historical event and genealogy to boot. Seventh-grader Andy Thomas has to do a family history project for school. His family and that of his best friend J.J. have lived in the (real) town of Hermosa, Texas, for generations, and Andy discovers a black sheep among his ancestors. Talking about this Cole Joseph Bonner upsets and embarrasses Andy's great aunt, particularly around J.J's great-grandmother, but Andy persists in trying to find out just what happened with "Coley Joe."

I loved how Andy uses a box of memorabilia in his great aunt's attic (including a family bible, an old photograph, and an heirloom), e-mail and genealogy bulletin boards (the book was published in 1996), library research (including asking the librarian for help--hooray!), and visits to the local cemetery to help solve the mystery. The Salt War is the real event that provides a setting for part of the story.

I can totally see this book being used for interdisciplinary studies 4th to 7th grade classroom, particularly for Texas history required in those two grades. It could also be used by a parent to spark a child's interest in genealogy and/or family history (there's a Bonner family tree at the beginning of the book) and ways to research them. There are also some nice lessons about friendship and respect for elders in the book as well.

© Amanda Pape - 2010 ( )
3 vote riofriotex | Aug 27, 2010 |
780 L
Fiction, Mystery
  j.gott | May 23, 2009 |
A school assignment leads 12-year-old on an investigation into his family’s secrets. Intrigued by a name that’s been crossed out in the family Bible and a shadowy face in a family portrait, Andy decides to find out why Cole Joseph Bonner was branded a thief by his family. Andy’s research takes him back into west Texas during the late 1800s. Despite discouragement from relatives and a suspicious anonymous letter-writer to leave family skeletons in the closet, Andy utilizes Internet message boards, library archives and cemetery searches to piece together the trail Coley Joe took with the money meant to stock the family’s new ranch with cattle. Andy’s final discoveries lead him into a moral dilemma between clearing the reputation of an ancestor or preserving the relationship with his best friend. Nixon weaves a suspenseful tale which includes some interesting facts of Texas’s wild west past. ( )
  tlcalderon4 | May 3, 2009 |
Andy Thomas doesn't want to learn about his family history, but has to for an assignment. Then he discovers he has a criminal in his past. Can he uncover the truth? ( )
  mrsarey | Feb 4, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440411289, Paperback)

Twelve-year-old Andy Bonner isn't thrilled with his teacher's assignment to explore family history. When he starts asking questions about his ancestors, he is startled to discover a black sheep in the family tree. No one wants to reveal what happened in his family's past. But Andy is determined to break the silence. Casting his net widely, from the Internet to the local cemetery, Andy's search helps everyone realize it's never too late to seek justice.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:13 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

While working on a genealogy project for his seventh grade history class, Andy Bonner becomes determined to solve the mystery surrounding a distant relative who was accused of stealing the family fortune.

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