The Mayor’s Review of Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Available: June 2, 2015
This mystery-adventure story centers around Emily, a 12-year-old who just moved to San Francisco. Her family has a plan to live in all 50 states so they are constantly on the move – and Emily is not happy about it. But, at least San Francisco is home to her favorite activity, Book Scavenger, a hugely popular online game that is like Geocaching for books, and the game’s founder, Garrison Griswold. At the beginning of the story, we learn that Garrison is in a coma after being attacked right before he was to introduce a brand new book enthusiast game to the world. Emily and her new friend James stumble upon a clue to this unknown game that sends them on a wild adventure to figure out Garrison’s plans and the mystery of his attack.
My Favorite Part:
There are tons of word riddles, cryptograms, codes, and other puzzles weaved throughout this book. I loved stopping to solve these, even though I couldn’t wait to keep reading and find out what happened next in the mystery. It has a classic ‘whodunnit’ feel wrapped up in a super well written kid lit book.
I found the characters extremely likable and relatable. They are dealing with normal middle school issues like making new friends, competition at school, getting along with siblings, and becoming more independent as they grow up. I love slightly offbeat characters like Emily and James.
Why It Mattered to Me:
As a kid, I logged many, many hours reading and doing the daily cryptograms and crossword puzzles in the newspaper. Book Scavenger would have been my dream book as a 4th-6th grader. And as a current resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, the references to famous locations and literary events and figures from this city are especially meaningful. I particularly enjoyed all the info about Edgar Allen Poe, a poet I loved as a young person. When I learn about historical people or events in fiction stories, this new knowledge always sticks better in my mind than when I read it in a straight up, nonfiction book.
Who Should Read This Book:
This is a fantastic book for 4th-8th graders who love mysteries and puzzles. It reminded me of The Westing Game meets Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library with a dash of Chasing Vermeer. The quick pace will keep young readers engaged and the well developed characters will appeal to those who appreciate high quality writing.