We left Jack Buckles, at the end of The Lost Property Office, after a bittersweet search to find his father. Like his father, Jack is a tracker, able to see the history of an object by touching it. He used his skills to find Mr. Buckles, who sadly lies in a coma in their home.
To make matters worse, his mother is under house arrest. Indeed Jack’s entire family must stay underground where the Ministry of Trackers, one of England’s secretive “Elder Ministries”, is located. Jack continues his training as a tracker amidst misgivings of many at the Ministry. Those misgivings are bolstered when someone frames Jack and his friend Gwen for the theft of a historic gem. This spunky pair does not take this lying down. Soon they are chasing the thief and avoiding apprehension through the streets of London and Moscow.
James Hannibal’s second installment in the Section 13 trilogy is fast-paced and full of imaginative gadgets. Youngsters will do well to reread The Lost Property Office before delving into this sequel, as a refresher on the details will be helpful. Fantasy lovers will take to this series, but the cliffhangers at the end of each chapter and the pair’s multiple quasi-miraculous escapes may wear thin for more sophisticated readers. That said, this trilogy emphasizes the importance of family, tradition and loyalty – worthwhile themes in children’s literature.
Jennifer Minicus is a teacher from New Jersey.