Mystery of Madera Canyon by Ed Kostro



MYSTERY OF MADERA CANYON Mystery of Madera CanyonEd Kostro;, Inc. 2004WorldCat

Review by Molly

“My name is Bonafacio Martinez. My classmates call me ‘Bony.’” So begins the narrative Mystery of Madera Canyon. Young Martinez is an Arizona treasure hunter who enjoys going into the desert or mountains to hunt for treasure and until just lately he has had little luck in finding much other than a few old Apache arrowheads and a lot of animal bones. Even though twelve year old Bony has not yet traveled much of the world his hero is Indiana Jones. In fact Bony intends to be a famous archeologist.

After locating his first real treasure Bony decides to keep a journal. The journal provides the grist for the narrative. Bony and his part wolf/dog Lobo have lots of adventures. For his twelfth birthday Bony’s dad agrees to take him out to Madera Canyon where legend says a ghostly figure of an Apache Woman, is to be found during a full moon. Bony not only likes digging up bones, he also likes bird watching. When Bony’s dad drops Bony, Lobo and Bony’s new birthday binoculars and bird book off at the canyon parking lot; Bony has little notion what escapades awaits. Forest Ranger Lou Thieman helps Bony choose The Vault Mine hiking trail, myriad humming birds, Snickers bars, nacho chips, Milk Bones for Lobo and before long Bony recognizes more time has passed than he realized. A Boy Scout Memorial to scouts who got lost on the trails and died during a snow storm cause Bony a moment of sadness.

When Lobo takes off down the Super Trail Bony has no choice but to follow, and, that is when the problems begin. A chance meeting with two coatis ends without incident. Racing after an elusive Elegant Trogon proves a big mistake. Bony leaves the trail and soon finds himself … lost and without his compass. It is late afternoon and Bony has a definite problem. With night fast approaching; Bony is a tad spooked to locate the el Diablo hummingbird sitting and shrieking nearby.

Elf owls, trying to sleep on the cold hard ground, darkness and an active imagination all begin to take their toll on Bonafacio’s thinking. A voice speaking in Spanish sounds in the darkness, Bony and Lobo are attacked by Screech Owls, and a concealed book in a hidden cavern add to the mystery. After the night he has had; Bony has quite a story to tell when he finally reunites with his father and Ranger Thieman. Moreover, he has found a real honest to goodness treasure.

On the pages of Mystery of Madera Canyon writer Kostro has produced an excellent fast paced narrative sure to please middle grades boys in particular. I will be using the book with my fourth grade for our ‘after lunch, reading to kids time.’ I particularly like the use of Spanish words, descriptions of various birds and animals to be found in the Arizona locale, and non preachy or threatening manner of showing youngsters how easy it is to get off the known trail and lost when out in areas such as are described in the narrative.

Kids in the target audience of 8 – 12 often think they are larger than life and indestructible. Bony and his dog Lobo allow youngsters the comfort in knowing that it is okay to be afraid, okay to feel sadness at the deaths of others and okay to be faced with situations for which there may be no real explanation. Bony kept his cool and made it to safety … a good lesson taught. Mystery of Madera Canyon provides discussion starters for talking about what to do if lost and alone in the darkness.

Mystery of Madera Canyon is a superior choice for home library pleasure reading, the school book shelf and the home school reading program. I was sent a paperback copy of the book for review. Don’t read it on a dark and stormy night!!

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