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The Valley of Secrets (2003)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0689878621, Hardcover)The tradition of the cozy English children’s mystery, so sweetly portrayed in classics like Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce and Mandy by Julie Andrews, has been revived in Charmian Hussey’s exquisitely wrought The Valley of Secrets. Stephen Lansbury never knew his parents. So the orphan is stunned to receive a letter informing him he has inherited a large estate in the English countryside from his long lost great-uncle Theodore. Upon his arrival to Lansbury Hall, two things immediately strike Stephen: the exotic plant life that seems to bloom everywhere, and the meticulous upkeep of the old manor. When Stephen finds the water-stained journals of his uncle’s youthful travels up the Amazon River, the unusual greenery suddenly makes sense. But who (or what!) is maintaining the tidy kitchen garden and replenishing his woodbox? As Stephen pores over his uncle’s journals, his curiosity and apprehension grow. Are plants the only thing Uncle Theodore brought back from the rain forest all those years ago?
Charmian Hussey has given the stale orphan premise a clever 21st century twist by inserting loads of facts and figures about the devastating deforestation of the Amazon into her old-fashioned tale. There is even a list of mentioned flora and fauna included for aspiring young naturalists, who will no doubt be charmed by Stephen’s surprising "discovery" of a whole new species. For more mystery melded with Amazon lore, follow up The Valley of Secrets with Eva Ibbotson’s equally wonderful Journey to the River Sea. --Jennifer Hubert
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:04 -0400)
When strange events occur in his newly inherited manor house in Cornwall, England, Stephen, a teenager who was abandoned at birth, investigates the mystery and his family history using clues found in a travel journal kept by his great uncle Theo during his trip to the Amazon River region.
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