Book talks for readers at Chisago Lakes Middle School.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Billionaire's Curse by Richard Newsome

[Insert pictures for slideshow or picture book to introduce, The Billionaire’s Curse, by Richard Newsome.]

Page One: [Australian Alps] Gerald Wilkins is more than happy to ditch middle school for holiday break. His family has planned to vacation at a ski resort in the Australian Alps. His snowboard might just alleviate the abysmal embarrassment Gerald suffered at the hand of his history teacher, Mr. Atkinson. Why did Mr. Atkinson have to display in front of the whole class a portrait Gerald drew of the girl he had a crush on in the front row? Let's skip the revulsion she felt for Gerald now.

Page Two: [England] The distraction Gerald Wilkins hoped to receive from his vacation soon vanished, however. Gerald’s mom and dad informed him that their plans had changed. There had been a phone call. A great aunt had died. A great aunt Gerald had never met. Too bad, so sad, Gerald thought. Clearly the news hadn’t sunk in. There would be no ski trip. They were to leave Australia immediately for the funeral in England!

Page Three: [Tear drop]In the apparent shock of events, Gerald’s mom held a handkerchief to her nose and tears rained down, smearing make-up down her cheeks. She blurted out, “I can’t believe she’s dead!” She sobbed: “Isn’t it just…..wonderful!” Her tears were tears of joy.

Page Four: [Airbus A380] Gerald and his mom and dad flew on an Airbus A380. The plane known for its size and luxury made Gerald feel disconcerted; something wasn’t quite right. How could his parents afford a flight on such a plane? Also, wasn’t it a bit odd that they were the only passengers aboard except for a butler and flight crew?

Page Five: [Andy Warhol] As they disembarked, a tall thin man dressed in black with chalky white skin and silvery hair grabbed Gerald’s arm with a vise-like grip. Undetected, the man pulled Gerald into the darkness underneath the plane. Gerald noticed he smelled like bleach and wore sunglasses even though it was night. As Gerald struggled to get free the man with the chalky white skin calmly spoke as if he knew Gerald’s great aunt, but hinted that she had been unable to help him with something. Before Gerald wriggled free, the man said, “I think you may be of enormous help to me.”

Page Six: [Bill Gates] Gerald’s aunt was the heiress to the multi-billion dollar Archer family estate and invested wisely to amass an even larger fortune. To gain favor with her rich aunt, Gerald’s mother had named Gerald after her. Geraldine Archer, like a Bill Gates, had committed a large portion of her fortune to altruistic causes, giving billions to charity, but a fortune of 20 billion pounds still remained. Like the rest of the Archer family, Gerald’s mom looked forward to the funeral with great anticipation. The reading of the will would commence immediately after the service.

Page Seven: [Letter with a seal] The family, friends, and servants of Geraldine Archer all received a letter with the Archer family seal. All were instructed to wait until after the executor had read the will before they tore into their individual envelopes.

Page Eight: [Koh-i-Noor diamond] One tiny detail-just before or just after the death of Geraldine Wilkins, I can’t tell you for certain, in a securely guarded chamber in a British Museum, the near priceless Noor Jehan Diamond was stolen.

Who will receive Geraldine Archer’s fortune? How is the theft of one of the world’s most priceless diamonds connected with the death of Gerald’s aunt? Who is the thin man dressed in black and what does he want from Gerald? Money and fame have a way of making those who possess them into their prisoners. And, like sparkling diamonds, they could easily distract Gerald's attention away from what is really going on. For example, did anyone question how Geraldine Archer died? If you like mystery and adventure, then I would like to recommend, The Billionaire's Curse, by Richard Newsome.

You might also be interested in:

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan and the 39 Clues Series.

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