Just plain fun! That's how I would describe "The 39 Clues, Book 1" (and as soon as I am done writing this, I am going to go find Book 2 and get started!)
The 39 Clues is not new - I am late to the game, no two ways about it. But, in this case, better late than never. So for those of you who may have had a couple of things going on in the last year and a half and aren't aware - let me fill you in! For those of you who already know (and by know, I mean have read one or two of the books yourself - I have known for awhile that they were a growing trend with the kids!) well done. With seven books already on the shelf (book 8 to come out in April of this year), and additional clue packs, this series will keep the kids busy for awhile!
The concept - get a variety of some of the top kid adventure writers and have them collaborate on a mystery series that is packed with so many puzzles, so much intrigue, so many clues, the kids won't even notice the educational facts they are absorbing from the books! (Also, each book comes with 6 clue cards!) Who better to kick off the series, than Rick Riordan (as in author of a little series about a kid named Percy Jackson...) The game (and it is a game too - the website that supports the books is awesome - packed with all sorts of additional clues and games and the opportunity for kids to compete for cash prizes!) is spelled out in Book One. Grace Cahill, the leader of the Cahill family from which numerous historical figures are descended, has passed away. It is at her funeral that her will is revealed. Forty heirs are given the opportunity to walk away with a million dollar vouchers, or trade the voucher for a clue that will get them started in participating in the world's most important treasure hunt. While there are many who take the cash, there are seven teams that emerge to take the challenge, including Grace's beloved and orphaned grand children, Amy and Dan. The competition starts right away and these relatives are out to play dirty. The first clue leads Amy, Dan and their au pair, Nellie, to Paris where they are hunting clues left behind from their distant relative, Ben Franklin.
A little bit Harry Potterish (four "Houses" descended from the the original Cahill family), a little bit Percy Jacksonish (quests that are revealed as the adventure progresses), a little bit like Dan Brown for kids (old artifacts that reveal secret meanings), a little bit Skeleton Creekish (on-line participation) = great fun! Highly recommend! If you (or your kids) register on-line (www.the39clues.com) - look me up to partner with (Epiphanykim) and let's see what we can solve together!!! (Book Two by another favorite - Gordon Korman)
Grades 4 +