Only a secret lost to history can save his family's mountain - and his life! 

 

With the death of his soldier father and the looming sale of his family’s mountain in the heart of West Virginia coal country, thirteen-year-old Lucas Whitlatch’s hardscrabble life just got a lot harder.  To help him cope, his grandmother sends him to Camp Kawani, a sanctuary for kids who have just lost a parent.  Surprising himself, Lucas makes fast friends with two of his bunkmates, a chubby jokester named George and Alex, a city kid.  In no time, though, Lucas also becomes the target of Zack, the camp’s biggest bully.

 

But Lucas soon learns that the mountains surrounding Camp Kawani hold a secret: The Lost Treasure of Thomas Jefferson Beale, a hoard of gold and silver whose location is encrypted in a set of centuries-old codes that no one has ever been able to decipher.   Desperate for any way to save his mountain, Lucas’s gold-fever – and a dangerous prank by Zack – combine to strand him and his two new friends in the middle of the wilderness. Their only hope for rescue is the mysterious hermit Gideon Creech, whose secrets just might give Lucas a way to save his mountain – and his life.

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"Oechsle orchestrates a fast-paced narrative that is both poignant and engaging…Those who enjoy a strong male protagonist who is industrious, rugged, and intelligent will like this offering."
School Library Journal
 
"A well-paced story with appealing characters, cliff-hanger moments, and a resonant emotional core."
Booklist
 
"Occasional rough language, graphic images, and strong emotions surrounding loss are balanced by plenty of humor and heart in this compelling adventure."
Publishers Weekly
 
"Plucky kids, the spice of danger, the lure of treasure, and an ever-so-happy conclusion."
Kirkus Reviews

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© 2016 by Michael Oechsle