Amy and Dan are on their way to Russia, to find someone who knows one of their most private secrets, and they only have 36 hours to do it.

It was too early for anyone to be pounding on Amy and Dan's hotel room door, but the thunderous knocks wouldn't be denied. Amy stumbled to the door, and took the telegram from the bellhop's hand. She opened the envelope and her face turned white as she read the message inside. She screamed at Dan, finally waking him up. The first line of the message was the number and combination of a locker at the Cairo International Airport, but it was the verse below that stunned both of them. 

Under the birch tree
Six inches deep
Lies a treasure of bottle caps
A child did keep.

But they and their grandmother were the only ones who knew where Dan had buried his collection. Was this some kind of message from her? It was signed NRR — who was that? Someone Grace had trusted with the secret?

They couldn't answer the questions, but they could find the locker at the airport and see what it held. There were three objects inside: a honey-colored glass ball, a thin piece of parchment filled with letters and numbers that were drawn so ornately that they were impossible to read, and a 10" square box. Inside the box were disguises and faked passports, a gold Visa card, and a well-worn Russian guidebook with two airplane tickets tucked inside. The plane would leave in an hour, and would land in Volgograd, Russia. 

It wasn't until they were in the air that they realized what was on the other side of the piece of parchment-a black and white photo of their parents, outside the American embassy in Paris. Beneath was another message from NRR. They had 36 hours to find him, "before the door to the room closes forever....come no one." 

The next step in their search for the 39 clues had begun. Where would it lead them?

This booktalk is written by Joni Richards Bodart, university professor, writer, consultant, and internationally known booktalker.