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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Hidden Gems: Quest for the Great Diamond is an educational action and adventure novel for children and preteens written by Hagop Kane Boughazian and illustrated by Joel Sigua. Gemstone was a small village located next to the Jeweled Forest, a stunningly beautiful woodland retreat where rocks and minerals of all types were to be found in the forms of trees, plants, reptiles, insects and even birds. There were rock people and mineral people living in Gemstone. The rock people lived more modest lives in simple dwellings, while the mineral folk enjoyed a somewhat grander existence. Then something strange happened. Mr. and Mrs. Quartz had a daughter whom they loved and doted upon as all parents do -- but she was different. She was rock, and they were mineral. How could mineral parents have a rock child? Gem just wanted to know what was wrong with her. Why was she different? Soon, however, she would set off with three other young people who had their own identity issues. The adventure they’d have would be unforgettable, and the truth about rocks and minerals would finally be uncovered.
Hidden Gems may have minerals and rocks as its main characters, but the social issues they are struggling with in school and in life are universal. Readers will empathize with Gem in her need to understand why she’s different and feel her dejection at her best friend’s betrayal. Hidden Gems is more than an allegorical fantasy novel, however; it’s a brilliant introduction to gems and minerals for all ages. Even those with some familiarity with stones will find nuggets of information that will surprise and delight. While I do have some working familiarity with many of the stones mentioned in Boughazian’s book, I was delighted with how much more I actually learned from it. And the secret to Gem’s identity? It’s an utter delight. The author’s characters, particularly the four intrepid explorers, are finely crafted and credible, and the plot is filled with the wonder and lore of gems and minerals. The message is a wise and universal one. Joel Sigua’s imaginative and intuitive illustrations make the reading experience even better. Hidden Gems: Quest for the Great Diamond is most highly recommended.