Seeking Cassandra - April 2016

Kirkus Reviews January 20, 2016


While she's playing detective to find three ancient Plano arrowheads, sheltered 12-year-old Cassie is also gathering clues about life. Cassie is a girl in transition. Her divorced parents are both following their dreams: her mother is in Germany on business, and Cassie is spending the summer with her dad, who is, to her surprise, in Palo Duro Canyon becoming a park ranger. In the past, Cassie has gone along and tried to fit in. But her experiences roughing it in the semiarid canyon push tenderfoot Cassie, depicted as a white girl on the cover, outside her comfort zone physically and emotionally. Meeting people with a variety of life experiences, learning the history of the land and native peoples, training for hikes, and immersing herself in the mystery of arrowheads that have disappeared from an archaeological dig broadens Cassie's perspective and sharpens her interpretive skills. The setting is vivid and the unusual cast, richly developed. Cassie narrates and is honest, sometimes painfully so, about her feelings and often biased assumptions, particularly with regard to the neighboring family of Latino kids. As she opens herself to new friends and information, Cassie is better able to assess her life and make decisions about her future. Periodic entries in her journal emphasize turning points until, in the end, an eager "Cassandra" writes an entry to highlight the things she learned over the summer. An unexpectedly deep mystery with plenty of talking points. (Mystery. 8-12)

Booklist Online Exclusive: February 12, 2016


In this thoughtful adventure-mystery, 12-year-old Cassie learns a thing or two about herself after she is forced to spend the summer with her father in a trailer in the Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Cassie misses her friends back home and mistrusts the other kids in the junior naturalist program her father enrolls her in, especially tough-looking, tattooed X. For his part, X thinks Cassie is spoiled and stuck up. When the kids are told that artifacts have disappeared from a nearby archaeological dig, Cassie suspects X, though the truth may be muddier. After divorcing her mother, her father left a good job for odd jobs in the canyon, and his suspicious behavior is starting to make Cassie wonder if he is involved in the thefts. As she tries to discover the culprit, Cassie learns the true meaning of friendship and realizes she is more capable than she thinks. The pace of the narrative may be leisurely, but the truths that Cassie realizes will resonate with. young readers.— Sharon Rawlins