Author: Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Series: The Book Scavenger series
Publication: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (April 25, 2017)
Description: Mr. Quisling is definitely up to something mysterious, and Emily and James are on high alert. First, there's the coded note he drops at a book event. Then, they uncover a trail of encrypted messages in Mark Twain-penned books hidden through Book Scavenger. What's most suspicious is that each hidden book triggers an arson fire.
As the sleuthing friends dig deeper, they discover Mr. Quisling has been hunting a legendary historical puzzle: the Unbreakable Code. This new mystery is irresistible, but Emily and James can't ignore the signs that Mr. Quisling might be the arsonist.
The clock is ticking as the arson fires multiply, and Emily and James race to crack the code of a lifetime.
My Thoughts: Emily and James are back in a second adventure. This time these middle schoolers are trying to solve the unbreakable code which dates back to the time of Mark Twain in San Francisco. Solving it is supposed to lead to a fantastic treasure. Emily and James are experienced puzzle solvers as they are members of an online game called Book Scavengers started by Emily's idol Garrison Griswold.
Searching for the solution for the unbreakable code is only one of the mysteries they are working on. They are suspicious about their teacher Mr. Quisling who is tracking down copies of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain which wouldn't be suspicious except for the fires that are started in the locations where the books were found.
Emily is also stressed by the possibility that her parents will need to move the family again despite promising her and her brother that they would settle in San Francisco for a while. Meanwhile, James is missing his father who has to travel a lot for business. Finding the treasure and giving the winnings to their parents could solve both of those problems. Adding to their schedule is the upcoming Presidents' Day/Valentine's Day Dance which Emily and James volunteered to help organize.
I liked both Emily and James because they are readers. I liked that they were curious and resourceful. I liked the adults in this story too who were helpful and treated the kids with respect. I also liked the puzzles and think middle grade puzzle lovers will enjoy playing along with the clues to the mystery.
"It's so sad to imagine the people who had to stay here," Emily said. She pictured someone carefully carving those words, taking breaks to look through the chain-link-covered windows.I received this one for review from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.
"It's only sad if you assume that's the end of their story," James said. "If you imagine the person's next chapter, living over there" -- James nodded out the window to the city across the bay -- "then it's heroic. They refused to be broken just because someone tried to hold them back."