Title: Book Scavenger
Author: Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Publisher: Henry Holt
Publication Date: 2015
Twelve-year-old Emily’s family is on a quest to live in 50 houses in 50 states. Her mother is a blogger and writer and hoping to publish a book about their adventures. Leaving New Mexico is hard for Emily but the excitement of moving to San Francisco is complimented by the fact that it is the home to Bayside Press, Garrison Griswold, and the home base for the Book Scavenger.
Book Scavenger is an online game where participants write clues that lead to books hidden all over the world. The game is described as “a community of book lovers, puzzle lovers, and treasure hunters,” and Emily is just a few points away from the Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin level. Mr. Griswold is about to reveal his newest and most exciting puzzle quest yet but is violently attacked before he can reveal the game.
As someone who has moved often, Emily struggles with friendships but is lucky that James lives just upstairs and loves puzzles as well. When Emily and James visit the site of the Griswold attack, they find a copy of The Gold-Bug. They quickly discover that this book isn’t part of the Book Scavengers game but may be a clue to Mr. Griswold’s big announcement. They are not the only ones in search of The Gold-Bug however, and some of the other interested parties have old grudges and will go to great lengths to solve the puzzle. Emily and James learn quickly that they cannot trust everyone and they must rely on their own wits and skills and each other as they decipher the clues and race to find the spectacular prize. If they aren’t able to solve the clues quickly, the end result may be something much more sinister.
What a completely fun book!! I actually picked this up for my daughter and became totally engrossed in the story. What a concept of solving puzzles and finding books! The game itself is a wonderful creation and the story is just as engaging and exciting. It reminds me a bit of The Westing Game, The 39 Clues series, and The Red Blazer Girls series; the puzzles help the story to progress and the reader becomes involved in solving the clues. I only wish the game were real and I could play!
Emily and James are very likeable characters and Emily’s family provides great supporting action. There is a lot of humor, coupled with the frustrations and trials of life as a middle schooler.
Who might like this book:
Although this is technically a young adult book, I truly think anyone who loves books, mysteries, or puzzle-solving will enjoy this adventure. It is a well-written and engaging story. There is an obvious appreciation and love of books evident throughout the story. Emily and James travel all over San Francisco on quite an adventure, but as a native to the city, James is very believable as a tour guide. There are numerous references to famous landmarks and anyone familiar with the city will enjoy and recognize the sights and locales.
I highly recommend this book. It would a great read for a middle school classroom and serve as a starting point in the study of codes and puzzles. I hope the author writes more!