Which Book Would You Send on an Adventure? by Danielle Levine

book scavengerI am not a puzzle person.  I really want to be.  I watch my husband decipher the daily cryptoquote or my son tackle the newspaper’s Sudoku in awe. As a seventh grade Language Arts teacher, this frustrates me. However, I love a good scavenger hunt.  Hide an object, give me a list of clues, and let me go!  


As Jennifer Chambliss Bertman opens her novel, Book Scavenger, the reader is greeted with the rules of the game. “1. Choose a book to send on an adventure.” The object of the game is to hide a book in a public place. The player then creates a clue to help other players find the book that he or she has hidden.  Players record their finds on an online forum and earn points for the books they find.  The game as of right now, exists only in the world that Chambliss Bertman has created, but I will admit, I am ready to hide books all over town, to invent some clues, and to start the search.


Now, the game is only a small piece of Book Scavenger.  Garrison Griswold, the creator of Book Scavenger is about to launch his newest game when he is mugged on the BART platform on the way to the big event, and the newest game never officially gets off the ground, or does it?


the gold bugMeanwhile, Emily and her family have just moved to San Francisco.  Emily’s parents are bloggers, and their claim to fame is that they are planning to live in all 50 states and blog about their experiences.  Emily is tired of having to move time and time again, but she is a tiny bit excited about the prospect of living in San Francisco, the hometown of Garrison Griswold, creator of her favorite game, Book Scavenger. When Emily finds an unregistered copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Gold-Bug in the BART station, she cannot help but wonder if it might be part of Griswold’s new game.  


The story takes off from there, and the novel really has something for everyone.  My students’ biggest complaint these days is that there are not enough books with enticing female protagonists.  Emily is a great character to read about.  She is also a kid who has moved around a lot, which is something that many readers can relate to.  Chambliss Bertman captures those feelings of trying to fit in and of finding your place in a new school.  She tackles those pitfalls of making new friends, as Emily gets to know James, who is a schoolmate and her neighbor.


As a teacher, I really enjoy the fact that there are some cool “teaching points” in the book.  Ciphers, codes, and clues abound!  For my puzzle lovers, there are some neat features about the new game that lead readers into looking at ways to create hidden messages (and for the folks like me who struggle with puzzles, never fear as all is explained very well).  It gives English Language Arts teachers a chance to talk “code” with our students. I also love the classic connection to works of Edgar Allan Poe.  I found myself dusting off The Gold-Bug and The Black Cat to add to my experience while reading Book Scavenger.  


As a parent, I am ecstatic that I have just found a new read aloud book that the whole family can enjoy.  With so many heavy books out there, it is nice to read a book that is pure fun. If you are looking for a thrilling read, I highly suggest checking out Book Scavenger, but be forewarned, you might be tempted to hide a few books along the way.  My first book to hide: Book Scavenger.  My first clue: It might seem chilly where I hide, but glide on by and take hot cocoa beside.


Danielle Levine is a seventh grade Language Arts teacher at South Orange Middle School in South Orange, New Jersey.  All year long, she loves spending time reading with her family. It’s something they do nightly.  She loves reading books suggested to her by her 7th graders.  Follow her on Twitter @Levineteaches.