Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: Mystery of the Jaguar Moon

Title: Mystery of the Jaguar Moon
Author: Lisa D. Lee
Page Count: 129
My Rating: 3 TURTLES: An enjoyable read, but I suggest check out if you like the topic before adding it to your TBR.


Mystery of the Jaguar Moon is set sometime in the near future and somewhere in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. An investigative team of scientists has been assigned to discover all they can from an ancient Mayan temple before the rising seas of global warming destroys it. They find much more than they bargained for!

This story is based on verifiable facts and could very well be an accounting of our future. Follow the journey of these scientists into the past, through the present and into the unknown.

Mystery of the Jaguar Moon is the first in a series offering an innovative approach to teaching learning: A Novel Curriculum.

Course evaluation is based on class participation, written work, vocabulary testing and portfolio work. Whether reading it as a novel, or as part of this extraordinary new curriculum, you will be fascinated by the unveiling of the Mystery of the Jaguar Moon.


The author gave me a copy of this book during Wordstock. I don’t know if I would have picked it out for myself at the bookstore, but I loved the idea of a novel curriculum. The thought of using one book for potentially English, Art, and possibly Science is extremely creative. I learned quite a bit about the geography and history of the Yucatan Peninsula, which I really enjoyed.

Part of the curriculum involves vocabulary, which is of course would make sense since it is reading. Unfortunately, this sometimes resulted in disjointed sentences where there were mostly every day words, and then all of a sudden an SAT word would jump out at me. Of course this would be good for someone taking this as a course, and I enjoy tough vocabulary myself, if I know all the words in books I’m reading I don’t feel challenged, but it did feel a bit incongruent. At times there were awkward tense switches, where it seemed like it was hopping from third to first person without any clear transition. There were typos in the book, it wasn’t riddled with them, but enough to give me pause, especially since this is for schools.

One thing that really confused me about this book was that I could not figure out what grade this would be for. Apart from the aforementioned SAT words, the rest of the writing could very easily fall in the Middle Grade range, as could most of the story. There were several skinny-dipping scenes, though all very tame, I could imagine some middle school parents might have a problem with the class curriculum novel if they found out breasts were referenced as “silken orbs” in it.

I did enjoy reading this book, it is an extremely quick read. I was very intrigued to see how the novel could intertwine with a curriculum, but I don’t know if I would recommend it for reading as just a novel by itself. The book has a great message that I think more stories should be telling: we have to be aware of our environment and others’ lives in order to survive. I’ll take that over: fall for the dark mysterious guy and tag along on his adventures while screaming and crying the whole time any day of the week. I just wasn’t wowed with the overall execution. The people I would most recommend this book to would be those who are very intrigued with the history of ancient Mexico. Fans of stories where the world is drastically changing (in this case the rising of the oceans) might enjoy this story as well.

Buy Mystery of the Jaguar Moon on Amazon

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