Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Black Circle (The 39 Clues) by Patrick Carman

The 39 Clues series reaches its midway point with Patrick Carman's The Black Circle. Dan and Amy Cahill's fast-paced adventure shows no sign of slowing. Their continued quest for the 39 Clues - acquiring all 39 will enable Dan and Amy to become the most powerful members of the Cahill family, the most powerful family in the world - is taking them around the world and back again.

Here, as best as I can, is a review in pictures:

The fifth book documenting Amy and Dan Cahill's hunt for the 39 Clues takes them all around

After leaving their 5-star hotel near the

Amy and Dan receive a message and airline tickets at the airport. The flight takes them to Volgograd. The message takes them to

There they meet the usual Cahill suspects and form and unlikely partnership with the Holts. Dan and Amy head to St. Petersburg to visit

and meet this guy.

The next message is about Russian author Dostoevsky and sends the Holts to Omsk to see

where they get the next message. Relaying what they discover back the Amy and Dan, the Cahills head outside St. Petersburg to


Another message, relayed back to Hamilton Holt, sends his family 52 miles outside of Magadan, Siberia on the

Next, the Holts' discovery directs Amy and Dan to

in Moscow. There they visit

Another flight takes them to Yekaterinburg where they visit

Hidden beneath the church is

Here they find the next of the 39 Clues, information about their parents, and a hint to their next destination.

Okay, so that probably doesn't help too much. The point I want to make is that background knowledge will play a big part in understanding the historical significance of The Black Circle. Middle and upper elementary readers will certainly enjoy the twists and turns, fights, and near escapes that 39 Clues readers have grown accustomed to.

But how many of the above locations do you recognize? One or two of them, maybe. But all of them? Young readers will enjoy the book even more knowing - and seeing - that all the places characters visit are real. The Black Circle would work great as a read aloud, with images displayed in front of the class. Encourage independent readers to sit close to their computers with Google Images ready to roll. Pictures of all the locations, as evidenced above, are readily available.


  1. Your suggestions at the end of your post are great. I've read all of the books so far, except the newest one, and have enjoyed them immensely. I can't wait for my daughter to read them.

  2. My daughter is officially ahead of me. I figured we might as well get two copies of the sixth book, In Too Deep, since she'd steal mine anyway. So now I've had to avoid her so she doesn't give anything away.

    Thanks for visiting the site and for the comments. Seeing pictures of all the places made a huge difference for me, and I really feel it will do the same for students.

    On to Book Six...!

  3. I love that you incorporated images of the locations into this post!

    I, alas, have only read the first two books so far. But now that I see the Cahills are hitting up Egypt, I may need to buckle down and read.

  4. Egypt is just one stop, but it does take up one entire book. I enjoyed Australia and Jakarta in Book Six.

    And, not to be pushy or anything, but you DO need to buckle down and read them! :)

    Happy reading!



All comments are moderated and will not appear until approved. If your comment is an answer for the PBID Challenge, it will appear with all other answers on the following Monday. Remember to check back then!