Book Scavenger
Book Scavenger
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Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
ISBN 9781627791151
Christy Ottaviano/Holt, 2015.
4 ½ stars
Keywords: book-scavenger books edgar-allan-poe friendship jennifer-chambliss-bertman puzzles reading san-francisco

Book Scavenger
by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

In her first novel, Jennifer Chambliss Bertman introduces a smart, resourceful 12-year-old who makes her first true friend through a mutual passion for solving puzzles.

Emily Crane's parents are determined to live in all 50 states. As a result, Emily wonders, "How do you open yourself up to hellos when you're already preparing to say good-bye?" But when the Cranes move to San Francisco, Emily meets James, who lives upstairs and enjoys puzzles just as much as she does. They take turns passing messages in a pail, up and down past their open windows. James teaches Emily about decoding tricks and Emily teaches James about the game Book Scavenger, invented by Garrison Griswold, who (like Emily) moved to San Francisco when he was 12. When Griswold gets mugged in a BART station, Emily finds a book he left behind: The Gold-Bug by Edgar Allan Poe. She suspects it's the key to a new game Griswold had planned to launch, and her obsession to prove her theory sets in motion a literal scavenger hunt with stakes far higher than any game Emily has played thus far.

Bertman takes readers on a cable car, the BART and a tour of San Francisco's Lombard Street, plus much more, as Emily balances code-breaking with the challenges of figuring out how to be a friend. Fans of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library will appreciate the abundant literary allusions, and readers will hope for more adventures, hinted at in the book's final lines.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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