Foreword Reviews

The Heath Cousins and the Moonstone Cave

Clarion Rating: 4 out of 5

The Heath Cousins and the Moonstone Cave is an adventure story that contains valuable moral lessons for young readers about interpersonal relationships and teamwork.

Eileen Hobbs’s deliberately paced, enchanting juvenile adventure The Heath Cousins and the Moonstone Cave finds feuding cousins learning the value of teamwork in order to solve a mystery.

Addie B. and her cousins Jack, Beanie, and Bodie Heath arrive at their grandparents’ coastal cottage at Winston Cove for a family reunion that also finds the Heath family mourning the passing of Grandma Winnie.

Addie does not get along with the boys initially, but Bodie and Addie bond over a moonstone gem the Heath brothers discovered in a cave on the beach.  Meanwhile, Addie’s grandfather gives her a family treasure box.

The box contains an old photograph of Grandma Winnie dressed in Native American garb and a poem referencing the cave. This piques Addie’s interest; she joins her cousins the next morning at the cave. They discover a secret passageway that unlocks a door to a garden managed by a Native American woman named Gemma who looks like a younger Grandma Winnie. Gemma informs the children that they must work together to overcome the dangers behind hidden passageways if they wish to find their way home.

The story’s point of view develops around Addie B., a tough lead who is smart, resourceful, and confident, despite her obvious differences—being from another country, speaking with an English accent, being perceived as stuck up—from her more stereotypically rambunctious and distrusting cousins. Addie’s intellect and problem-solving abilities help her gain acceptance from the boys. Only Bodie has the courage to accept Addie B. for who she really is because of his age (he’s six), his lack of preconceived notions about girls, and his yearning for friendship.

The story addresses concepts of teamwork, personal acceptance, and loss and grief for young children. Gendered experiences of grief are also revealed: Addie B. is allowed to confront and display her emotions visibly, while the older Heath boys feel that they must hide behind a veneer of bravado and brashness. The boys’ armor isn’t impervious; they also show vulnerability, as when their heated arguments with Addie B. reveal their jealousy.

The story progresses at a logical pace, making space for each child to mature in sensible ways. Chapters are short and easy to digest, and sentences maintain an easy-to-follow rhythm.

The book’s black-and-white illustrations have a youthful quality and are provided at key points in the story; they ably convey moods and ambience, such as the fear of the unknown behind each garden door and excitement over small victories.

The Heath Cousins and the Moonstone Cave is an adventure story that contains valuable moral lessons for young readers about interpersonal relationships and teamwork.

Reviewed by Nancy Powell

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the publisher will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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