Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Published by Henry Holt

Summary: Emily’s parents have a plan to live in all 50 states, and this year’s move is to California. Emily has learned not to put down roots, knowing that she’ll have to move again before long.  In spite of her resolve, she finds herself in a friendship with her neighbor James, who shares her love of books and puzzles.  She introduces him to Book Scavenger, the online book treasure hunting game created by San Francisco publisher Garrison Griswold.  About the time of her move, Griswold is shot in a BART subway station.  Soon after, Emily and James find a mysterious copy of The Gold-Bug by Edgar Allan Poe, and soon discover it’s the first clue in a new game Griswold was about to debut when he was attacked.  As the publisher’s life hangs in the balance, Emily and James race to solve the Poe puzzles before Griswold’s enemy can discover the whereabouts of his book.  Grades 4-7.

Pros: A fast-paced mystery for fans of ciphers, codes, and puzzles. Emily and James are endearing characters, and there are a couple of interesting subplots about Emily’s family’s unusual goal to live in all the states, and a rivalry between James and a fellow cipher fan.

Cons:  At 343 pages, the intricate plot occasionally becomes a bit unwieldy.

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