From the moment I read the description of Stella’s treasure hunts in her hoarder Grandma’s home in the opening pages of Joyce McPherson’s The Pandora Device, I was hooked. As I read about Stella and her Grandma, I realized that I could not recall ever reading a book in which the main character lived with a hoarder.Reading the following passage, my mind flashed to some old trade magazines that I’ve been holding onto because “surely someday I’ll read them.” I had to stop myself from putting down the book and going right away to clean out all those years of saved magazines.
“Let’s show Grandma,” I said.
We dashed down the hall to her library and squeezed through the stacks of newspapers that filled the room like yellowed skyscrapers.
She sat in her recliner in the midst of them, and I had a quick image of those towers slowly tilting until they whooshed across the floor and through the front door. That was my biggest nightmare—that the whole neighborhood would find out about Grandma’s collections.
Much as I would have loved to explore Stella’s life at Grandma’s house, Stella has other adventures to keep her busy in The Pandora Device. During one of these treasure hunts, Stella and her friend Lindsey find a box containing some keepsakes, including a photograph of Stella’s parents as teenagers at camp.
Stella wants to learn more about her long-deceased parents, so she decides to attend the camp in the photo—Camp Hawthorne. Before she leaves for camp, however, she receives an anonymous warning not to search for information about her parents.
Stella, her friends Lindsey and Jayden, and school bully Ellen, travel to Camp Hawthorne. There, they discover that Camp Hawthorne is not like any camp they have ever attended before, and that the camp counselors and staff will help each camper find and develop gifts they never knew they had.
The kids in The Pandora Device keep the fun and excitement moving as they explore their gifts at Camp Hawthorne, sometimes with funny results. They are guided by a host of counselors and staff, all of whom have their own quirks (as well as gifts). Stella’s dilemma of whether to try to find out more about her parents despite the threats and warnings draws the reader closer to her. Overall, Ms. McPherson has created a group of memorable characters that kept me up far too late at night rooting for them!
I was fortunate to receive an advance reader copy of The Pandora Device in exchange for my unbiased review of the book. I am so glad that I did, because I now look forward to reading the next books in the Camp Hawthorne series!
In addition to the three books that she has already written in the Camp Hawthorne series, Joyce McPherson is the author of a number of biographies and abridged Shakespeare plays for children. You can find Ms. McPherson online at http://joyce-mcpherson.blogspot.com. Ms. McPherson’s blog has information about her books, experiments, and even a link to her tools for creating a Shakespeare camp for children (https://sites.google.com/site/shakespearetools/).
Have you read any great books lately?