Lost Treasure on the Circle Star Ranch

25 January 2024

Lost Treasure on the Circle Star Ranch
by Jackie Cameron, Illustrated by Wendi Nordell
Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing
Review by Sally Meadows
$19.95 ISBN 9781778690013

In Lost Treasure on the Circle Star Ranch, nine-year-old Ben stumbles across yet another mystery as readers get a glimpse of life on his family’s ranch on the Canadian prairies.

The story draws the reader in immediately with a vivid visual of two horses gallopping across the prairies, their riders-Ben and his sister Sarah-shouting about a grass fire.

Ben’s family springs into action. The appearance of a stranger in a blue truck who helps put out the fire raises Ben’s curiosity. When he learns from a Hutterite neighbour that there had been another grass fire years ago near an abandoned cabin on his family’s rented land, and that the fire might have been connected to a thief using the cabin as a hideout, Ben’s imagination goes into overdrive. Could the stolen money and jewellery still be at the cabin? And could the mysterious man in the blue truck, who Ben spots again later at the rodeo, be on the hunt for the lost treasure?

Swift Current author Jackie Cameron effectively weaves details about life on a ranch-the danger of grass fires, the value of neighbours, the kids’ participation in rodeos, the diversity of prairie wildlife, fun campfire traditions, and more-into the twists and turns of the main storyline. 

I really enjoyed this story because although I didn’t grow up on the prairies, my father and his extended family did. With one cousin who still ranches and another cousin who was a national rodeo champion, this city girl got a glimpse into what life on the prairies might have been like when they were young boys, with a page-turning mystery to boot.

I hope this story inspires young readers with prairie roots-and those reading to them-to learn more about their own family history. For students who grew up in another culture, this engaging novel for kids is a wonderful way to learn about the unique lifestyle of a fundamental part of the Canadian cultural tapesty.

Author Jackie Cameron was a teacher-librarian for 25 years. She has tapped into her intimate knowledge of life on the Saskatchewan prairies-her family raised beef cattle-to write childrens’ books that educate and inform about the ranching life. The first book in her series, Adventures on the Circle Star Ranch-the author’s first ever publication-was shortlisted in the children’s book category of the 2022 Saskatchewan Book Awards. This story is suitable for ages 5-8 (K-3) and is a worthy addition to a school, classroom, or home library.


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