Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Changing Tides: A Gates Family Mystery by Catherine Hapka

Title: Changing Tides
Series: National Treasure - A Gates Family Mystery
Author: Catherine Hapka
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reading Level: 12 and up
Multicultural: Native American including key character and portrayal of the relationship between the colonists and natives
Curriculum Subjects: History

Changing Tides is the first book in the National Treasure - A Gates Family Mystery series.  The series is inspired by Gates family featured in the National Treasure films.  The books feature previous generations of Gates in search of treasure during different periods of American history.  This one is set in 1612 and begins in London, but ends up mostly in the Jamestown colony.

The main character of this book is Samuel Gates, who ends up signing up with his brother William to go to the Jamestown colony in the New World to seek new fortune while also escaping the bad reputation their family has in London due to their father's foolish treasure hunting schemes.  On the way to America, Samuel gets caught up in his own treasure hunt when another passenger shares a cryptic letter he received from a cousin about a hidden treasure that is related to the lost colony of Roanoke.

One great feature of the book is that it variety of historical figures as characters including Shakespeare, Pocahontas (her sister is actually a major character), Chief Powhatan, Governor Gates, and John Rolfe.  It also provides insight into the historical period including what it was like living in Jamestown and the tension between the Native Americans and the English settlers.  Additionally, the postscript explains a little about the real historical aspects featured versus the purely fictional aspects of the book.

Overall Changing Tides is a good adventure filled historical fiction novel that can be a great lead in to learning more about the early English settlements in America.  The way new clues are usually introduced at the end of a chapter is also great for encouraging problem solving, as you can stop and try to figure out where the clues are going to lead on your own, especially the clue at the end of chapter 20. 

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of the National Treasure movies
  • Those with an interest in history, especially the early American colonial period.
  • Mystery lovers and those that enjoy working out puzzles, riddles, and clues. (Logical-Mathematical)
  • Those interested in the relationship between the Native Americans and European settlers. (Interpersonal)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
  • How Do You Lose a Colony? ThinkQuest - This is a good website for kids to learn more about the Lost Colony of Roanoke.
  • Jamestown Fort Craft
  • Jamestown Lesson Plans - This part of the website for historic Jamestown features a variety of lesson plans related to the colony and the Jamestown Rediscovery archeology project.
  • National Treasure Teacher Guide - This is a PDF that contains activities for grades 4 to 12 that are designed to go with the National Treasure movie.  The writing contest part is long closed, but is still good writing prompts for exploring family history and a good exercise in creativity and problem solving by developing your own clues.

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