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TROUBLE IN TIMBUKTU by Cristina Kessler


by Cristina Kessler

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: March 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-399-24451-3
Publisher: Philomel

Precocious twins, Saharan sandstorms and black-market antiquities are par for the course in this middling adventure story set in Timbuktu, but Kessler somehow breathes new life into recycled themes in this Clive Cussler–esque thriller for teens. When Ahmed and Ayisha are hired as guides for an obnoxious American couple, they hardly expect to abet the acquisition of ancient manuscripts. Vowing to preserve their heritage at all costs, the twins set off on a reckless journey that leads to near-dehydration in the desert, the unearthing of family secrets and, finally, the wrath of their worried parents. The author manages to infuse stock characters—e.g. Auntie B, the outcast relative whose guidance leads to triumph and truth—with an unexpected humanity, and her descriptions of rural Saharan life are to be relished. More irksome than the banal plot, however, are the constant attempts to create African colloquialisms: Readers may grow tired of them “faster than dust during a harmattan storm” and find themselves “hungry as a camel four days into the desert” for a reprieve. (Fiction. 12 & up)