Happy MMGM, Reading Nook!
Today, I'm thrilled to share one of my top new MG titles, Book Scavenger by debut author Jennifer Chambliss Bertman.
Bertman has written a book that is not only incredibly fun to read, but a reminder of the importance of pursuing your hobbies, and the value of friendship, family and of course - loving books!
MMGM is a feature hosted by (fabulous) author Shannon Messenger on her blog every week!
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 2nd 2015 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Format read: ARC via Publisher
Debut author Jennifer Chambliss Bertman has not only written your new favorite middle grade novel, but has also crafted a worthy sucessor to classic novels like The Westing Game.
Twelve-year-old Emily is on the move again. Her family is relocating to San Francisco, home of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger, a game where books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles. But Emily soon learns that Griswold has been attacked and is in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold and leads to a valuable prize. But there are others on the hunt for this book, and Emily and James must race to solve the puzzles Griswold left behind before Griswold's attackers make them their next target.
Debut author Jennifer Bertman introduces us to twelve-year-old Emily, a young girl who has just relocated to San Francisco, the home of her literary idol and creator of the online game Book Scavenger, Garrison Griswold.
But Emily soon learns that Griswold has been attacked on the eve of unveiling his new game, and the book that Emily has coincidentally just found, may very well be the first clue to that game. Now, it's up to Emily and new friend James to uncover the remaining clues for the game, and solve Griswold's puzzle, before someone else gets hurt.
Like Griswold's games, Bertman's debut novel is constructed as a multi-layered puzzle, with a number of entertaining layers for readers to dig through. At its most basic level, Book Scavenger begins as a coming-of-age story for twelve-year-old Emily. We quickly learn that she's spent most of her life moving around, thanks to a parental ambition (and blog!) to live in all fifty states.
Constantly moving around has led Emily to lead a solitary life, and Bertman shows us just why Emily prefers hobbies like Book Scavenger - it's something she can do on her own without feeling the need to risk making relationships that may not last - and it's also the one constant she has in each new city.
But more importantly, it's this very hobby that allows her to develop a friendship with fellow puzzle/code lover Jame, and has also provided Emily with the skills to begin to solve the clues of Griswold's game. Bertman's tacit acknowledgement that being different from those around you, can often help you develop the unique problem-solving skills that help you stand out, is something that younger readers will likely appreciate.
As Emily and James continue to pursue Griswold's clues, Bertman does an exceptional job of showing both Emily's internal and external development. Emily shows a level of ingenuity in using both low-tech and high-tech resources for solving each clue - something every parent and educator will likely appreciate - but also grows from each clue as well.
Because Emily is often forced to come out of her shell as she pursues each clue, she begins making the acquaintance of the local community around her, and begins to put down valuable roots. And by coming out of her shell, Emily also develops stronger bonds with her family, as well. Bertman brilliantly reminds both Emily and older brother Matthew that just because they may want to pursue different hobbies on most days, it doesn't mean that they can't still appreciate each other, and occasionally do things together. It's a strong example of a sibling relationship done right, and Bertman should definitely get kudos for it.
Ultimately, while Griswold's intention for his game is to promote literary love and an appreciation for puzzle-solving, Bertman shows how it's also for people to grow in leaps and bounds when pursuing such a game. Emily begins the book as a charming but solitary young heroine, and ends the book with friends, family and a home. Highly recommend, full stop.
But outside of Emily and James pursuing the answers to Grisworld's game, Bertman has also crafted a great novel on friendship, family, loyalty and what it means to discover what you want out of life, and how to make that happen. I have every confidence that this book will earn a honored place on many a shelf, and I strongly urge all of you to pick this up for the summer reading season.
(And while you're at it, you can also become a book scavenger yourself!)
Highly recommend for all readers, full stop. Bertman has written a book that is sure to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.
To enter, tell us:
* Why you want to read this book!
* If you were a Book Scavenger and could hide a book anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?
About the author:
Jennifer Chambliss Bertman was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds an MFA in creative writing and has worked for literary agencies, magazines, educational publishers, and as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader. Book Scavenger is her debut novel.
Visit her at: writerjenn.blogspot.com or bookscavenger.com!