Cover image for Cliff hanger
Cliff hanger
Skurzynski, Gloria.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : National Geographic Society, [1999]

Physical Description:
147 pages : color illustrations ; 22 cm.
Twelve-year-old Jack and his younger sister visit Mesa Verde National Park, where they delve into the park's history while gradually uncovering the mysterious past of their family's teenage foster child Lucky.
Reading Level:
670 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.9 5.0 44278.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.1 10 Quiz: 23477 Guided reading level: NR.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



When a cougar attacks a hiker in Mesa Verde National Park, the Landons have another mystery on their hands. Jack and Ashley are used to visiting parks with their wildlife veterinarian mother and photographer father, but this time their hands are full with a foster child called Lucky Deal. As Lucky and Jack become friends, Ashley becomes suspicious: What did Lucky take from the burn site? Who did she call in the night? In a midnight showdown at Spruce Tree House, Jack realizes there's more to fear than a killer cat.Cliff-Hangerweaves Native American folklore, natural science, and geography into a heart-pounding thriller. The afterword by Will Morris, Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services at Mesa Verde, outlines the dangers of cougar attacks and the need to protect wild animals.

Author Notes

Author Gloria Skurzynski was born in Duquesne, Pennsylvania in 1930. She was educated at Carlow University. She writes both fiction and non-fiction books for children and young adults.She is the author of more than sixty books for young readers. In 1992, her work Almost the Real Thing: Simulation in Your High-Tech World won the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award. She writes the National Geographic National Parks series and the Virtual War Chronologs series.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-7. The third entry in the National Parks Mystery series features the Landon family (veterinarian mother, photographer father, 12-year-old Jack, and 10-year-old Ashley), which finds itself in Mesa Verde National Park, where Mrs. Landon is on the trail of a human-attacking cougar. But the Landons are not alone. With them is 13-year-old Lucky, whom they have taken into foster care on an emergency basis. Lucky immediately arouses suspicion, making mysterious calls in the middle of the night and taking things that aren't hers. But Jack is her friend (and thinks she's cute), so he protects her from questions. In a spine-chilling conclusion, Jack must try to save Lucky from both the cougar and her return to a life that Jack knows will cause her pain. The authors do a fine job of integrating lots of material into an exciting story. They neatly balance information about Mesa Verde National Park with details of Lucky's life as a scam artist, and they keep the threat of the deadly cougar hanging over everything. Readers will look forward to the next in the series. --Ilene Cooper

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-Jack Landon, 12, and his younger sister, Ashley, who appeared in three previous adventures, are about to leave for Mesa Verde National Park with their veterinarian mom and photographer dad when the family is called upon to accept a foster child, 13-year-old Lucky, on an emergency basis. Mrs. Landon has been called as a consultant to the area because a cougar has attacked a hiker. Ashley is thrilled, but Jack is not pleased to have a last-minute intruder on the family's trip. His attitude changes as he finds himself attracted to Lucky, but she refuses to answer any questions, won't tell anyone her last name, and makes statements that strain credibility. Ashley is quicker than Jack to catch on to some of the inconsistencies in the girl's behavior, partly because he does not want to believe that his sister is correct. Lucky's actions eventually lead all three youngsters into a life-threatening situation involving the cougar. Once they are rescued, Lucky escapes the family's custody and flees the country with her less-than-honest father. The well-developed plot moves right along, and the characters have definite personalities. Descriptions of actual places, their history, and the environment add to the ambience. A solid adventure story enhanced by an interesting study of honesty vs. deception.-Eldon Younce, Harper Elementary School, KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.