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Book Review

Storm Warning by Linda Sue Park has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the ninth book in the "39 Clues" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

In the first book in the series, The Maze of Bones, Amy and Dan's grandmother Grace dies and leaves them with a choice. They can inherit $1 million or have the opportunity to search for 39 clues that, once found, will make them the most powerful people in the world. Amy (14), her brother, Dan (11), and a number of their corrupt relatives have chosen to hunt for the clues.

In book nine, Amy and Dan travel with Nellie, their au pair, to the Bahamas in search of information about the notorious female pirate Anne Bonmy. On a pirate tour, they are given their next clue that leads them to a cave at the east end of the island. While the children venture in, Nellie waits outside and is confronted by the man in black. He warns her of many dangers that lie ahead. Inside the cave, the water level is rising, and Dan finds a chain with a bear claw on it. After Amy bangs her head and passes out, Nellie pulls the children to safety. Witnessing the rescue through binoculars, the Kabras are convinced that Dan found something of importance.

Amy, Dan and Nellie travel to Jamaica in search of "Calico Jack" Rackham, a pirate who traveled with Anne Bonmy. At the library, they find a list of supplies for his ship. The list includes Grace's locket that Amy wears around her neck as well as symbols from each family line. Dan also wears one of those symbols, the bear claw he found in the cave.

Lester, the librarian, introduces the children to his grandmother. She gives Nellie an earring that matches the ring in Nellie's nose, a family heirloom given by her father. Nellie remembers a letter her father had also given her that was addressed to "The Right Excellent Nanny," a Jamaican hero who escaped slavery and established communities in the mountains for runaway slaves.

At the hero's statue in the park, Dan finds a piece of gold with letters pressed into it that refer to the Cahill family lines. They are chased from the park by the Kabras, and Amy has a flashback to the wolf tooth charm on Isabel's bracelet, an icon of the Janus line. Amy organizes a meeting with the Kabras and plans to steal the bracelet. Chasing after Amy, Isabel trips on the whole nutmegs Nellie throws in her path. Isabel falls and is knocked unconscious. Amy promises Natalie medical care for Isabel in exchange for the bracelet.

Lester takes the children to an excavation site where they find a box with cutouts in the shape of all the family icons. At the hotel, the Kabras, along with two thugs, chase after them. Lester runs out to sea where he and the thugs get caught in quicksand. Lester frees the thugs who abandon him to the sea. Nellie rescues the box as Dan stays to help Lester. Both are pulled under. When an ambulance arrives, Dan is in shock and Lester is dead. Dan and Amy decide to quit the race because they don't want to hurt or kill anyone else.

On the way to the airport, Nellie kidnaps Amy and Dan and takes them to a small mountain town where escaped slaves used to live. They meet the man in black, who has the box, and he gives them one hour to figure out how to open it. With the collected icons and a gold strip inserted into the cutouts, the lid springs open to reveal a poem on parchment that directs them to England and a pouch containing a vial of mace, the outer covering of nutmeg.

The man in black introduces himself as Fiske Cahill, Grace's brother, and Amy notices a family resemblance between him and Dan. Fiske explains how Gideon Cahill had developed a cure for the plague that altered ones' DNA and improved one's skills. This caused tension among his children and, upon his death, they went their separate ways to recreate the serum — planning to best each other. Gideon's wife was pregnant with Madeline when he died. She raised their daughter to believe that nothing was more important than reconciling the family. Madeline became the head of the Madrigal line, the peacekeepers.

Amy and Dan discover that their parents were not bad guys, but rather, they worked to restore unity in their family. The children are granted active Madrigal status and become the youngest candidates ever. For her work with Amy and Dan, Nellie becomes the first person not of the bloodline to be granted Madrigal status. Their upcoming trip to England will be their final chance to reunite the family.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Nellie's job is to supervise Amy and Dan, but they are suspicious about her behavior. Her skills are beyond that of an average nanny, and she appears to be leaking information on the clues and the children's whereabouts to other family members. Amy and Dan address their concerns, and Nellie tells them that she works for McIntyre and has been hired by Grace to help in the chase.

Amy thinks Nellie is leaking information for money, but Dan believes that Nellie has done more to help than hinder them in the hunt for clues. The kids agree to no longer share information with Nellie. Amy starts calling the shots. Nellie goes along with things until the children are in danger, and then she tells them that she alone decides when she is off duty.

Isobel Kabra is determined to destroy Amy and Dan. Her daughter, Natalie, is starting to have some concerns about her mother's behavior and nightmares about some of the things she has done to the children. Natalie is afraid of making any mistakes and wonders if her mother really is as cruel and hard-hearted as she appears. When Isabel is caught by Amy, Natalie requests to be portrayed as a victim rather than having to face her mother's wrath when the bracelet goes missing.

Fiske Cahill has been following the children on their journey to see if they have what it takes to bring the family together again. He frightens the children, who then believe he is working against them. When the truth of his identity is revealed, both Dan and Amy are cautious until a strong family resemblance reassures Amy of the truth.


Amy refers to herself as stupid. The words heck and idiot are both used twice. One thug yells, "Screw that!" at the idea of helping the other out of quicksand. There are two references to the thugs swearing or cursing. Calico Jack is hanged in a cage at the harbor entrance, and Dan wonders if his body was found crawling with maggots. Nellie refers to Isabel as a witch. Natalie hopes there will be no blood when her mother catches Amy. Nellie purchases nutmeg, which looks like "designer dog turds," at the market. To strengthen her promise to Natalie, Amy says, "I swear." Isabel's companions "looked like they ate Dan-size children regularly for breakfast." Lester runs out to sea where he and some thugs get caught in quicksand. Lester frees the thugs, but they abandon him to the sea.


Amy discovers that two pirates were women by noting the size of their breasts. Nellie flirts with the librarian.

Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments/Notes

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

9 to 12


Linda Sue Park






Record Label



Scholastic, Inc.


On Video

Year Published





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