02 June 2015

Review: Book Scavenger

Far be it from me to criticize a book that embraces and celebrates the love of reading, but I'm not entirely sure this one is it (and i say this while, at the time of this writing, having not yet read Mr Lemoncello's Library). A book that sort of presents itself as the Willy Wonka of books about books, it's not quite light-hearted or fun enough to hold that mantle, nor whimsical enough to allow for the comparisons.

The book is about some kids obsessed with Book Scavenging, a game about finding and reading books developed by a man who is also a bookseller and publisher. He's got a new game coming, but he's mugged before it can be revealed (yes, people are mugged over books in this world). The kids suspect a bigger problem and begin doing their own investigations into finding out what the new game is and maybe what happened.

The story is a little darker than you'd think. Kids chased by bumbling muggers without the comedic relief element is problem enough, but the idea behind this is more suited to a book about puzzles and solving mysteries, yet the book doesn't provide enough of either for the reader, instead going into more non-fictional histories of books and authors. In a sense, even if it wasn't the intent, this is how Common Core-aligned middle grade books fail our kids (forcing information in over narrative), and while the end result of the book is a nice little surprise, the trajectory to get there is not the most appealing.

It will definitely find an audience. We absolutely need more books that normalize and celebrate literature and literacy for kids. I just ultimately don't know if this is it.

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