SOUND BENDER. By Lin Oliver and Theo Baker. Scholastic Press. 272 pages. $16.99. For ages 10-14.

Leo is just an ordinary boy living in New York City. He attends school, has friends and even has a special tutor for his music studies. Everything in his life is normal until the plane his parents are flying in crashes somewhere over the ocean just before his 13th birthday.

Then Leo and his younger brother, Hollis, are shuttled off to live with their very wealthy and somewhat shady uncle Crane in the meat-packing district of Brooklyn. Shortly after arriving at their new residence, a package made up many years ago is delivered to Leo from his father. When he reads the letter on his 13th birthday, amazing and supernatural things begin to happen in his life. Leo discovers he has an unusual power: the power to hear sounds through time: to hear the history of objects.

The potential to learn about himself and his power leads Leo to the South Pacific in a race against time and his uncle's long reach.

Lin Oliver and Theo Baker weave an intriguing tale of self-discovery and paranormal adventure. Historical facts and music knowledge add to the slightly off-kilter ambience. The pacing is steady, but not overly quick, which leads to the need for character development.

The biggest failing is the fact the Crane has custody at all. It just doesn't seem to be a logical choice based on the information we have about Leo and Hollis' parents.

That said, "Sound Bender" is an exciting mystery adventure with an intriguing idea at its heart.

McGeath Freeman reviews children's books for Lowcountry Parent magazine. To see previous reviews, visit