Review: Book Scavenger

Book ScavengerBook Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. 9781627791151. June 2015. Gr. 5-8.

Sometimes you know that a book is going to be good even before you have reached the title page. What drew me to Book Scavenger initially was the cover tagline, “Where life is a game and books are the tokens”. Then, scanning the back cover, I saw “A hidden book. A found cipher. A game begins…”. Jennifer Chambliss Bertman seems to have written a book just for me!

Emily Crane is an enthusiastically bookish twelve-year-old girl that is living an adventure. Her family is on a quest to live in each of the 50 states. This brings about a variety of interesting experiences, but also means that Emily is reluctant to form any bonds with the people she meets and the places she lives in. But, when she meets a new neighbor, James, who is into puzzles and ciphers, she can’t help but bond with him and together they embark on an adventure.

Emily is into Book Scavenger, an online game where people register books, hide them, and post clues on how to find them. The affable mastermind behind the game is Garrison Griswold, Emily’s idol, and also a local publisher and puzzle enthusiast (think Willy Wonka, but with books). When Griswold is attacked in the subway, Emily and James unknowingly become part of Griswold’s newest game. They will need all of their literature knowledge and puzzle skills to finish the game and stay away from Griswold’s attackers, who are after them.

Bertman includes Book Scavenger instructions at the beginning of the book, and a number of author notes at the end. One note includes information on how she came up with the idea for the book, which I think describes the Book Scavenger concept well. She says the idea arose from a combination of Book Crossing , geocaching, and letterboxing. She also identifies other books that inspired Book Scavenger, which I have listed below, along with a few of my favorites that Book Scavenger reminded me of.

You can also visit Book Scavenger to participate in your own adventure.

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. 9781416960652. 1995. Gr. 4-6.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein. 9780375970894. 2013. Gr. 4-7.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsberg. 9780689853227. 2002. Gr. 4-6.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. 9780316057776. 2007. Gr. 4-6.

The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin. 9780142413883. 2009. Gr. 4-7.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. 9780140386646. 1997. Gr. 5-8.

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