The Finders-Keepers Rule

Published in 2015; author Jacqueline Debmar Greene; illustrator Julie Kolesova


Maryellen's been practicing for the annual Rock Around the Clock dance party Daytona Beach holds. She's pretty worn out from the dancing, and takes a break to go to the beach. She chats with Joan and Jerry before Jerry has to rush off to do some diving work (he trained as a Navy diver, and is now working for a demanding marine biologist with is friend, Skip). Maryellen also talks with a Mr. Buckley, who's testing out a new metal detector. He's a wealthy man, and is so convinced metal detectors are the next big thing that he bought the company. Oddly, Jerry's employer seems very suspicious of Mr. Buckley, warning Maryellen not to talk to him.

The next day, Maryellen and Davy are back at the beach. Maryellen find an old ring--very old. While they're trying to figure out where it came from, Davy spies a plaque describing a ship wreck in 1565: a whole French fleet was lost. Maybe the ring is from a sunken boat--which, naturally would hold more treasures within. Later, when Maryellen and Davy meet the man organizing the Rock Around the Clock party, he seems very interested in the ring, offering to take it to his jewelry shop to see if it's worth anything. And oddly reticent about Maryellen and Davy taking it themselves. And then the jeweler in the store, after noticing a fleur de lis engraving, seems too eager to keep the ring overnight to inspect it. Davy's able to get it back, accidentally knocking over a bottle of jewelry polish in the process.

Maryellen and Davy are more curious than ever. Why are adults so interested in the ring? And who can they trust? Even when she finds Jerry, he and his boss are talking cryptically about a woman possibly being in danger. Furthermore, when the duo goes to the library to research ship wrecks, they discover that Jerry's boss isn't a marine biologist--he's the underwater archaeologist who wrote the book they're reading!

When Maryellen and Davy talk to Jerry and Joan, things start to fall into place--sort of. Jerry is helping excavate a ship wreck, but looters have been sneaking off with little bits, like the ring. Because of the threat, Jerry and his boss have to bring the artifacts up now instead of carefully investigating it. The jeweler and the store owner are helping keep things safe--and people. Jerry is concerned that if whoever the looter is sees Maryellen with the ring, she'll be in danger, so he urges her to stop wearing it. Maryellen and Davy remember how Mr. Buckley's assistant was spying on the jeweler, and suspect him of being the looter. They investigate the building where the artifacts are being hidden.

As these mysteries tend to do, things get complicated before it's revealed that Skip and the assistant have been hired by Mr. Buckley to steal a large artifact (the "she" Jerry was referencing). Once it's in Mr. Buckley's possession, it'll be impossible to prove it's not his. Maryellen and Davy are able to stop the pair just as Jerry shows up with the police: Maryellen and Davy's families were worried when they didn't show up for dinner, and Jerry realized where they probably were and that they might be in danger.

But now Maryellen and Davy, along with the artifacts, are safe. The artifacts will go in a museum. Jerry's boss promises to add a note to the display saying that she found the ring--Maryellen decided to donate it so its historical importance could be widely enjoyed.

The book closes with the dance, where Maryellen has gotten the steps down thanks to some tips from Davy.

Inside Maryellen's World

Teenagers really got their time in the spotlight during the 1950s. Instead of being kids or adults, they enjoyed a new status as an emerging demographic, which popular culture was happy to cater to. Around the same time, scuba gear debuted, allowing people to explore natural and man-made things in the ocean. Shipwrecks from centuries ago are still being discovered today, some worth millions of dollars.


This book is dedicated to Jennifer Hirsch, "confidence booster, colleague, friend."

The song "Rock Around the Clock" came out in 1955, when this book is set.

Davy talks about memorizing complicated football plays. Reminds me of my dad talking about the thick binders of plays college football players have to memorize (he was the manager of the team in college). He reasoned that if football players can learn the plays, they have the smarts to pass their classes--maybe not straight As, but passing grades.

The advent of the teenager was part of why Back to the Future is set in 1955. Not only was the idea of Marty McFly meeting his parents as teens intriguing, but it was a time made for teenagers.

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