by Jennifer Bertman, published 2015
“Garrison Griswold here to welcome you to the wonderful world of Book Scavenger. We are a community of book lovers, puzzle lovers, and treasure hunters. Are you, too?”
The opening riff in this middle-school children’s book was so realistic, describing a website and a game like geo-caching, that at first I thought this was real, and the book was a promo for a website. Then I read the book, loved it, and went back to search, and found, indeed there is a website! So who knows what is real and what is fiction.
The main point is that this is a very well-written children’s book, which combines literary information, puzzles, and a bit of a mystery to solve. Along the way, we also learn more about friendship and getting along with others. I am amazed how much the author could pack into one children’s book, without it feeling overwhelming. And thank you, Jennifer Bertman, for featuring a boy and a girl as lead characters, so that we can be more inclusive in the reading audience.
Part of the enjoyment factor for me was how realistic the setting was. The book is set in San Francisco, and the author has made good use of the locale to make the entire children’s book come alive, almost as a guide to enjoying the city.
There is a sequel to this children’s book that I have not yet read, but I will get it as soon as it is in paperback. By this way, I came across this children’s book in my favorite local independent bookstore, reminding me that supporting local book stores is so important for continuing good literary traditions.