Books

Short Takes

HISTORY

HARK THE SOUND OF TAR HEEL VOICES: 220 YEARS OF UNC HISTORY

Edited by Daniel W. Barefoot. John F. Blair. 287 pages. Paperback. $16.95.

The best histories sparkle with people and stories, not facts and dates. That's just what you get with Daniel Barefoot's new book – a collection of letters, speeches, quotes and first-person reflections that tells UNC's colorful story decade by decade.

Through students, chancellors, supporters and detractors (including the late Jesse Helms) we learn about the school's beginnings, the dark Civil War years, civil rights protests, college pranks, campus legends.

Is academia so different today? Maybe not. In an 1881 letter, freshman L.A. Southern frets that he's eating so much “I think I will weigh about ten pounds more when I get back.” He notes that noisy dorm mates sometimes bother him – “some playing croquet, some singing, talking, etc.” And he says he's disappointed that he hasn't met a certain professor. “I guess,” Southern writes, “he is busy thinking about book publishing.”

Chapel Hill graduate Barefoot, a Lincolnton resident, has published 10 other books, including N.C. travel guides. He'll sign copies of his new book at 7 p.m. Friday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 4345 Barclay Downs Drive. -- Pam Kelley

CHILDREN'S FICTION

THE 39 CLUES: THE MAZE OF BONES, BOOK ONE

By Rick Riordan. Scholastic. Ages 9-12. 224 pages. $12.99.

Grace Cahill was the head of the powerful Cahill family, a group of world leaders and famous people throughout history. At her funeral, relatives are given a choice to inherit $1 million or begin a search that will lead to a secret treasure beyond description.

But first they must uncover 39 clues.

Despite mourning the loss of their grandmother, Dan and Amy Cahill decide to accept the challenge and begin a race to solve the mystery before other family members, who would kill to win.

One part adventure, one part historical mystery, Rick Riordan's book offers the humor of a Lemony Snicket novel and the action-adventure familiar to fans of Riordan's Percy Jackson series. Middle-grade readers will discover that drama can be found in a book and that reading this series just might pay off – literally.

For this first book in the series, Scholastic plans to let readers search for clues on the Web site, www.the39clues.com, with game cards included in the books and also sold separately. The story will span 10 books, with an incentive of more than $100,000 in prizes and a $10,000 grand prize. -- Megan Fink, special to the Observer

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