December 11, 2008

Review – “The 39 Clues”

Posted in 1 tagged , at 11:44 am by suepenkivech

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – The 39 Clues is the coolest concept in juvenile literature that I’ve ever encountered.

What is The 39 Clues, you may ask.  Is it a book series? A new collectible card craze?  An on-line game?

Actually, it’s all of the above.

The 39 Clues is a brand new book series by Scholastic.  The first book, “The Maze of Bones”, was written by New York Times bestselling author Rick Riordan (of the ever popular Percy Jackson series), who is also responsible for the overall plotting of this ten book mystery/adventure series.  It’s newly released sequel, “One False Note”, is written by kid-favorite Gordon Korman, who will also be writing other installments.

Reminiscent of the movie “National Treasure”, The 39 Clues takes its main characters on a tour of the world, garnering clues from historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Mozart, Marie Antoinette, and others, all of whom are purported to be members of the infamous Cahill family.  The protagonists are seeking the secret to the family’s fame and fortune, while dodging other, less scrupulous family members intent upon sabotaging their efforts. 

What’s unique is that the readers are invited to be part of the plot.  Each book contains clues in the story, as well a set of six collectible cards (more cards are available in a separate packet).  The readers collect clues along with the characters while they read, and get others from the cards and the 39 Clues website.  They can then create their own characters and play along on the internet, becoming part of the story. 

And, incidentally, learning a whole lot about history, geography, and science in the process.

Intended for ages 8-12, “The 39 Clues” will appeal to a much broader audience, in the same manner that Harry Potter did.  It’s fun, it’s exciting, and the online component attracts the “reluctant readers”.  In addition, given that the writers are rotating, new installments are being released at three to six month intervals – short enough that the average pre-teen reader won’t lose interest in the series.

The next book, “The Sword Thief” by Peter Lerangis, is scheduled for release on March 3, 2009.

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