Gerald Allen Wunsch,
(1stBooks, 2003)

I wanted to like Curiosity. Really, I did. I tried hard, and so did the author. Which is why I hate having to tell the truth: there's not much to this children's tale. First-time author Gerald Allen Wunsch just does not yet have his finger on the pulse of a child's mind or attention span.

The overall topic is promising: a young girl and her friend discover a secret room from the Underground Railroad and have her grandparents' home listed with the National Park Service. But that card-catalogue bit is, unfortunately, the most interesting part of the book. Now, when I was a girl, I would have demanded Ginger hate her parents, sulk through the first five days of her farm visit and reluctantly grow to love the country. She would then save the farm from the greedy hands of condo developers by discovering the Underground Railroad way-stop and having the house designated a national park.

Instead, Wunsch gives us a bland retelling of summer vacation, straight out a what-did-you-do-over-the-summer recitation on the first day back to school. Ginger is a nice girl who's happy to spend the summer at her grandparents' farm. In between car trips and stacks of pancakes, she discovers the shelter. The only racy part of the book (playing fast and loose with that term) is a section where they sneak into the cellar at night. Not the most entertaining fare.

There are some nice things about the book. Each chapter references extra informational material in the back of the book (although Wunsch could have deleted a few of his dog's photos). And the author deserves points for keeping the topic of our slavery past alive. But Wunsch unfortunately does not yet have what it takes to entertain our media-soaked young, who will certainly read two pages of Curiosity before returning to their X-Box.

- Rambles
written by Tracie Vida
published 22 January 2005

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