In the game, CJ and Edison are on a quest to find the lost city of Ursulab. They find an ancient tablet that holds the secrets of Ursulab, but it needs to be powered by rubies and diamonds. CJ and Edison travel to different locations around the world to find the jewels they need. They must also confront the villainous Dr. Listick, who wants to find the lost city for his own selfish gain.
- CJ - An adventurous hero who wants to find the lost city of Ursulab.
- Edison - CJ's best friend and partner.
- McCloud - CJ's butler.
- Dr. Listick - CJ's nemesis, who wants CJ out of the way so he can find Ursulab.
- Stanley - Dr. Listick's henchman.
- The Tapir - The timid but friendly guardian of the jewel room of Machu Picchu.
- Sybil - The calm and graceful guardian of the jewel room of the Caves of Cumae.
- The Eel - The laid-back guardian of the jewel room of Atlantis.
- Bingo - The stern guardian of the jewel room of Ayers Rock.
- The Sphinx - The quirky guardian of the jewel room of Egypt.
- Colossus - A living statue who guards the Egyptian temple.
- The Elders - Five elders of Ursulab.
The story begins with CJ and Edison exploring some ancient ruins. They come to a secret room, and CJ's digging crew begins searching. They dig up a tablet, and CJ exclaims that it holds the secrets of the lost city of Ursulab.
Suddenly, a rope lassos the tablet and wrenches it from CJ's hands. Startled, CJ and Edison look up to see the tablet being hoisted through a hole in the ceiling. Dr. Listick, CJ's archrival, peers down at them through the hole while his henchman Stanley clutches the tablet. He smugly says that now he's got the tablet, he'll be the one to find Ursulab. He also plans to trap CJ and Edison in the ruins.
As Dr. Listick raises his head, it bumps on the tablet that Stanley is holding, and a piece of the tablet breaks off and falls into the hole. Dr. Listick is too busy yelling at Stanley to notice, and CJ catches the piece and quickly hides it behind his back. Dr. Listick bids farewell to CJ, and Stanley moves a giant boulder over the hole to seal them in the ruin.
The Adventure Begins
As Edison seems discouraged, CJ begins looking for a way out. He manages to solve a puzzle that unlocks a secret door. When they exit the ruin, they are in Machu Picchu. They climb a hill and meet a tapir at the top. They tell the tapir that they are searching for Ursulab. The tapir says that he's been waiting for someone to come, and that they have to solve a puzzle first. After CJ and Edison solve the puzzle, the tapir says he'll show them to the jewel room.
Inside the jewel room, they run into none other but Dr. Listick. A diamond is encased in an ancient puzzle, and Dr. Listick says he'll have it in his possession soon. CJ competes with him to get the diamond and wins. Dr. Listick warns him not to get too confident, and says that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve.
CJ returns to his home, Stately Frog Manor, to study the artifacts more. When he arrives at the front door, he tries to open it, but it won't budge. His butler, McCloud, has changed the locks again. McCloud says that he can't be sure that CJ isn't an imposter, so he must solve some riddles before he can get in. After CJ solves all the riddles, McCloud lets him inside.
The First Elder
CJ sets the tablet and diamond down on the table while he tries to figure out what to do next. McCloud laments that he just cleaned that spot. As he tries to clean up, he puts the diamond in a hole in the tablet. The diamond begins to glow. There is a cloud of smoke, and then an image of an elderly woman appears from the tablet.
The elderly woman is one of the elders of Ursulab. She instructs them to find the other elders of Ursulab. She explains that if they have any interest in finding Ursulab, they need all of the diamonds. CJ asks how they'll find the diamonds, and the elder says she has put a map of the five secret sites in his fieldbook. They'll find a diamond at each location, but the diamonds also need a source of power. The elder says that they need to find nine rubies first to place in the tablet around the diamond. She asks if they have the tablet, and CJ says that they have part of it. The elder says that it will be enough for now, but eventually, they will need the rest of the tablet. The elder's diamond begins losing its power, and she must go back inside the diamond.
The Quest for the Jewels
Thus, CJ and Edison begin visiting the sites to collect rubies and diamonds. The five secret sites are Machu Picchu, the Caves of Cumae, Ayers Rock, Atlantis, and Egypt. Each secret location contains a jewel room which is protected by a guardian. CJ and Edison must solve puzzles to gain the guardian's approval, and complete a challenge to access the jewel room. CJ and Edison can obtain one ruby at a time from a jewel room. After collecting nine rubies, they can return to any jewel room for a diamond. Each time they try to obtain a diamond, they must confront Dr. Listick and defeat him in the puzzle game. Then CJ and Edison can return to Stately Frog Manor to meet another elder and discover the secrets of Ursulab.
The Second Elder
After CJ and Edison obtain the second diamond, they meet another elder. He thanks CJ for releasing him from the jewel, and asks if he's found the other elders yet. CJ says he has yet to find the others, and he asks who they are and what became of Ursulab. The elder introduces himself, and explains that the problems began when a rumor spread of an ancient treasure in the city of Ursulab. Villains began plotting to rob Ursulab. CJ tries to find out more, but the elder's jewel power fades, and he disappears.
The Third Elder
When CJ and Edison meet the third elder, he recounts that an army of thieves invaded the city, searching for a treasury. The elders tried to tell them that there was no treasury, but the thieves wouldn't listen. To protect the city, the elders turned themselves into five jewels and allowed the thieves to steal them instead.
The Fourth Elder
When CJ and Edison meet the fourth elder, she explains that the city of Ursulab can't exist without the elders. As the thieves took the jewels past the city's gates, Ursulab fell under a spell, and the city and all of its inhabitants disappeared. In order for the city to be restored, all of the elders need to be reunited. The fourth elder tells that they must find the last elder in order to find out what else must be done.
After CJ and Edison obtain the last diamond, they return to Frog Manor only to find a ransom note on the door. Dr. Listick has kidnapped McCloud, and demands that CJ bring all the jewels to the desert. CJ and Edison go there and confront him. Dr. Listick tells CJ that he can only save his butler if he hands over all the jewels. CJ obliges to save McCloud.
Dr. Listick orders Stanley to place all the jewels in the tablet. This summons the last elder, who says that there is one final challenge. An engraving of a hand print appears on the tablet. The elder says that the one whose hand fits in the tablet is worthy of Ursulab. Dr. Listick inspects the tablet, and his eye twitches when he realizes that it can't be him, because he has no hands.
Edison encourages CJ to go up and try it. CJ's hand fits, and this restores Ursulab. All of the elders are reunited and the city is saved. The fifth elder congratulates CJ, and says that he'll be rewarded with a library card, since Ursulab's library is truly where all the treasures lie. He reveals that he also turned Dr. Listick and Stanley into jewel statues. CJ says that he's going to Ursulab, and the story ends.
Locations and Activities
- Dig Site / The Dig Game - The dig site is where CJ and Edison dug to find the tablet. Here, CJ must climb up vines and collect words in alphabetical order. Unlike the other locations, this one doesn't have a jewel room or a guardian.
- The Puzzle - This activity can be accessed at each of the locations on the map screen except the Dig Site. The first time CJ and Edison meet a guardian, they must pass a test to prove their worth. In the puzzle, the player must find at least three words. The player can replay the activity anytime when visiting a location.
- Machu Picchu - This is the ancient Incan citadel located in Peru, hosted by Tapir The activity involves jumping on stones across a chasm. The stones have words on them, and Tapir will tell you which words you should look for.
- Caves of Cumae - Caves located near the ancient city of Cumae, hosted by Sybil. In the activity, you move CJ through a cave and find hidden words. Sybil will tell you which type of words you need to find. Move to a gem button to find a word. When you find a word that fulfills the requirement, press the space bar to push the button. Look out for bats, falling stalactites, and rolling boulders.
- Atlantis - This is the legendary lost city of Atlantis, hosted by Eel. In the game, CJ must collect coins with the submarine and drop them in a vase. A word missing some letters will appear on a sign. Find the coin with the letters that complete the word.
- Ayers Rock - A huge monolith in Australia, characterized by its striking red color, hosted by Bingo. The activity involves listening to a story, and then answering questions.
- Egypt - This is where ancient temples are located, hosted by Colossus and the Sphinx. Inside the temple, you must complete the Sphinx's challenge to access the Jewel Room. The Sphinx will tell you which words you should look for. Grab the flying carpets with the correct words on them, and then click on the sentence on the wall to fill in the missing word.
- Jewel Room / Word Duel - Each time an activity is completed, the player visits a Jewel Room to collect a ruby. There are five Jewel Rooms, one for each of the locations on the map screen except the Dig Site. If the player has collected nine rubies, the next time they visit a Jewel Room, Dr. Listick will be there. The player must face off against Listick in the activity Word Duel. Whoever creates three words first gets to claim a diamond.
- Front Door to Stately Frog Manor - This is the door to CJ's home. Each time you return here, you have to complete a couple of riddles to open the door, since McCloud is extremely cautious about impostors and intruders.
- Compound Words
- Past Tense Verbs
- Vowel Teams
See the credits subpage
Around 2002, JumpStart Reading for Second Graders was included in the JumpStart 1st-3rd Grade Learning Playground bundle under the shortened title JumpStart Reading, along with its math counterpart and JumpStart Explorers.
See the backgrounds gallery subpage