The Danger Box by Blue Balliett.
Scholastic Press: NY, 2010.

I snatched up this book immediately since I enjoyed Balliett's art mysteries so thoroughly. This is another mystery with educational connection. Odd at first, because there are three story lines from the beginning which have no apparent connection. All three eventually diverge, but not until about halfway through the book. One of the stories is very strange - clues to a mystery person that I thought initially was imaginary. Instead, it is a historical figure with a delightful connection to the protagonist. Personally, I cheated. I looked at the back for some clue about authenticity and found a whopper of a revelation. The meaning of the book grew in proportion as a result.

The all-encompassing story follows a young boy Zoomy, raised by grandparents in a small town, who is legally blind and sees and adjusts to life differently from others around him. He develops his first non-family friendship with a summer visitor he meets at the library. They share the joy of research through the computer. Zoomy gains possession of a notebook written by someone much like himself, and the two friends research topics noted in the journal.

The intro speaks of a valuable package being shipped in a peculiar fashion. When the recipient dies, the package doesn't quite make it to its destination. The last carrier is drawn to Zoomy's town and mayhem ensues.

Zoomy's character is one of the best things about the book. His sight is discussed as a positive aspect, forcing him to move slower and more carefully but also ensuring that he sees things others don't. It is his reason for studying nature and part of his connection to the mystery person. That mystery is also a favorite part of the book. Zoomy and Lorrol collaborate on a newsletter project, with the content being clues to the person's identity.

Balliet has a knack for building anticipation, with so much going on in her novels at once. I love the educational connections! She has some of the very best mysteries, smart and challenging, with great personality. This one is a more standard mystery than the art mysteries, but with her usual flare and mind-blowing revelations.

Sequence order is shifted within the book making it harder to decipher clues.

related-mystery, history, science, physical disabilities or challenges, living with grandparents, family reunion, small towns, family businesses, high interest

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