Back in December 2007, I posted my thoughts on a new Scholastic series, The 39 Clues. At the time, I was unsure about the idea of a series that would rely so heavily on a website and trading cards. This past week, I had the opportunity to read the first book in the series, upon the insistence of my students.
The 39 Clues (The Maze of Bones, Book 1) is written by Rick Riordan. Riordan is one of my favorite middle-grade writers because I feel like he accurately captures the voice of the typical middle schooler. He won’t write each book in the series, but he did write the outline for the entire series and the first book.
I have to say, I loved the book! I won’t bother to summarize it here, as there are reviews all over the web. But the story pulls you in immediately, sweeping you into the mystery. My students are loving the series, and would not rest until I read the book. For the first time this year, they were the ones recommending a book to me, instead of the other way around!
For those concerned about the “extras”, like the trading cards, the series is meant to be just fine without them. While I am sure they are fun and the online experience is enjoyable, most of my kids are reading the book without participating in that stuff. However, the ones who have signed up for the online games are completely into it. Too bad adults can’t win the big prizes! ;) Maybe a teacher will get to split the winnings with a luck student somewhere down the line, for introducing them to the books. Wishful thinking, maybe?