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Island of the Unknowns [Paperback]

Benedict Carey

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Book Description

1 Aug 2011
This gripping mystery, spiked with math clues, follows quirky outcasts Lady Di and Tom Jones as they try to save their woebegone community. In their caravan park called Adjacent, next to the Folsom Energy Plant, people have started to vanish, and no one seems to care. At first the kids barely notice the disappearances - until their beloved maths tutor, Mrs. Clarke, is abducted too. Mrs. Clarke has left them clues to her whereabouts in the form of equations that lead them all over the caravan park, through hidden tunnels under 'Mount Trashmore', and into the Folsom Energy Plant itself, where Lady Di and Tom Jones and a gang of other misfits uncover the sordid truth about what's really happening there. "Readers will be swept up in the fast talk and exciting action". ("Booklist").

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Amulet Books; Reprint edition (1 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810996634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810996632
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 14 x 1.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,078,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Benedict Carey, a former Los Angeles Times writer and current New York Times science section writer, was a maths and physics major in college, so he knows his geometry. Hoping to ignite a passion for maths in his own kids, Benedict decided to craft a smart and action-packed story for middle-grade readers that use's maths lessons to solve the mysterious disappearance of a maths tutor.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Humorous, engaging, recommended 13 April 2009
By Erika Erhart - Published on
I have to be honest, math is my Achilles Heel. I have never enjoyed it and aside from a random B in geometry, I was a consistent average-to-below average "math" student, which is why I approached this book with trepidation. I didn't think the mystery would engage me. 20 pages into The Unknowns, I was captivated. The lovable main characters and their witty voices combined with the vivid descriptions of life in Adjacent made this a very smooth and enjoyable read. I appreciate a well written story with round characters that are appealing to a broad audience, which is what Benedict Carey accomplishes with The Unknowns. I encouraged my ten-year old to read the book when I finished and wondered if some of the math elements would confuse him (I'm just assuming he's inherited the gene of "fear of math.") and he is understanding and enjoying the book. There are elements of this book that remind me of other great juvenile fiction books like Bridge to Terabithia, Chasing Vermeer or Hatchet.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mathematical mystery recommended for all 30 April 2009
By Traci Rieckmann - Published on
The Unknowns is a story about two kids, Tom Jones and Lady Di, who live in a Trailer Park called Adjacent. The mystery begins with local residents disappearing and continues on with action, secrets, and intriguing clues. Following the main characters through school, turmoil with peers, and spy-kid challenges, the reader is drawn easily into the adventuring lives of Tom and Di. But this is where Carey brings it home - weaving math equations, maps, math history, and geometry into the story, the reader is challenged through this fresh, fun mystery. I was impressed by his ability to depict such accessible characters who are simultaneously brave and awkward, and who experience the normal blunders of early adolescence. The Unknowns is an unexpected find that also offers a great opportunity for dialogue between parents and children. Carey's ability to move the plot forward with empowered yet human characters that rely on creative problem-solving is sure to be a draw for a broad audience. The Unknowns leaves any reader smiling and thinking -"Finally, something new, sharp, and moving!" I would recommend it to other parents, kids, teachers, and even grandparents and the illustrations are wonderful!!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book was awesome! I loved all of the riddles and 30 Oct 2012
A Kid's Review - Published on
I loved all of the riddles and math problems. This book has a great ending that will keep you guessing.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Math, Kidnapping, Mystery--How do they fit together? 20 May 2011
A Kid's Review - Published on
Imagine yourself on an island where a bunch of nobodies live. Everyone is yearning for something, anything, to happen. Suddenly, it happens. People start to disappear. Then one day, your friend disappears. Not that your age friend, but the kind, old lady Ms. Clarke who helped you with your homework and always had something to give. She is gone. This is what happens in this book, The Unknowns. Di and her friend Tom will embark on a a mathematical journey to rescue their friend Ms. Clarke. How will they find her on such a big, unknown island? Ms. Clarke already thought of that. She left clues, clues that only her pupils could figure out. Clues that no one will understand, except Di and Tom. Di is an awkward overweight girl who is very determined. Tom is a quiet boy, but he is able to disappear. The two of them will do anything to get Ms. Clarke back, whether it's walking across town to find an exact location or crawling, underground to a nuclear plant. This book is full of twists and turns.
I liked this book because it helped me to look at math in a whole new way, but it was also confusing because I hadn't learned some of the things they talked about. I suggest it this book for sixth or seventh grade readers who like long mystery books. This book was hard to get into at first, but after you read the first few chapters, it gets better. I liked how the author included stories from Adjacent's past. There was one about how Ham crawled under Mount Trashmore on dare. If you are wondering who Ham is, you will have to read the book. Overall I would say this book is a captivating book that will make you want to read more!
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 10 July 2014
By Amy Goerner - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
On time and exactly as described.
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