Immediately immersing readers in a colorfully presented and described world, HIDDEN GEMS: Quest for the Great Diamond by H. K. Boughazian is a visual and linguistic thrill. Exquisitely produced front and back insets with high-quality images alphabetized from an amethyst to zincite signal the start of educational, original and imaginative storytelling. As a guide to characters composed of rocks and minerals, this useful and repeatedly used reference precedes intriguing and crisp chapter titles capturing the struggles of youth. From “Best Friends” and “Worst Enemies” to “Tears for a Friend” and “Knowledge Will Set You Free,” experiences are conveyed in directly relatable terms.
A captivating prologue opens with a clever and humorous observation about life as a rock before introducing the lively creatures in a jeweled forest. From “yellow topaz bees” to “lapis lazuli butterflies” and “frogs snatching fast-flying jeweled snacks,” vivid images engage and delight language lovers while propelling the story forward. Another major strength of this book is the exploration of differences between rocks and minerals beyond their surface appearance. Painful incidents and interactions among the characters accurately express the rejection that children often experience when they don’t fit into a particular group. As two girls and two boys in the story search for the Great Diamond as well as answers to their troubling questions, some precarious incidents ultimately help them–and readers–recognize their fundamental similarities.
The cover art by Joel Sigua and Bea Castillo, featuring the wide-eyed and expressive images of the four friends, alludes to cause for concern during this adventure. The black-and-white illustrations by Joel Sigua, at the beginning of each chapter, complement and enhance the highly descriptive tale. However, some of the threatening images of monsters and dragons, along with frightening details in the story, may unsettle young readers, particularly before bedtime. From a stibnite giant pulling spikes off his back and throwing them to a girl falling and seriously injuring her shoulder, alarming but suspenseful predicaments drive the adventure and rivet attention through the story’s satisfying conclusion. With bonus online material including a full-color glossary, coloring pages to download, songs and a trailer, HIDDEN GEMS is a sparkling, multifaceted and enlightening experience.
HIDDEN GEMS by H. K. Boughazian is a creatively conceived and skillfully executed adventure book, with larger messages, for young readers as well as adults.
~Andrea K. Hammer for IndieReader