+ Book Series Sends Kids on a Web Treasure Hunt

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Scholastic Publishers is bringing out the first of a ten-book series called “The 39 Clues.”  This first book in the series is written by Rick Riordan, chiefly known as the author of the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians “series.

The book, “The Maze of Bones,” has a release date of September 9, 2008.

Riordan (pronounced “RYE-r-don) was for 15 years a middle school English and history teacher, fills the book with details that are educational but will also hook the average preteen reader. 

“My goal in the classroom was always to make sure they were having so much fun they didn’t realize they were learning,” he says in Motoko Rich’s NY Times article.  “I saw ‘The 39 Clues’  as a potential vehicle for doing some education in a fun way — to take some of these amazing stories from history, dust them off and make them alive.”

“The 39 Clues”  is planned as a ten-book mystery series for 8-to-12 year olds.  A different historical figure will make an appearance in each one.

The ten books are bing published on an aggressive timetable, with plans to release one book every two to three months.  Riordan, who wrote the first one, has outlined the next nine, which are being written by other authors.

The story was devised in part by Scholastic’s editors.  It follows Amy and Dan Cahill, two orphans aged 14 and 11, who are competing against other branches of the sprawling Cahill family (a clan that has had “a greater impact on human civilization than any other family in history”).  They discover the first of the 39 clues which are the keys to a secret that when revealed will lead to ultimate power.

The books are tied to a Web-based game (www.the39clues.scholastic.com) and collectors’ cards.

David Levithan, an executive editorial director for multimedia publishing at Scholastic, says “The idea is that every aspect will add to the storytelling in its own way.  The Web or card experience is not at all going to replicate the book experience, nor is the book experience going to replicate the Web.”

Scholastic’s guidelines instructed Mr Riordan that only one clue per book would be revealed, leaving gamers to find the other 29 online.  They also directed that the series take place in a number of locales around the world.

Riordan says that writing books with a committee is not “selling out,” but rather liberating, since writing the Percy Jackson books was a very solitary experience.

He says he always thinks of his two sons before embarking on a project.  “Are my own sons going to enjoy this book when I’m done with it.  If the answer is yes and they’re excited about it, then I’ll probably go ahead and do it.

The Percy Jackson novels grew out of bedtime stories he told his older son, Haley, now 13, shortly after he was identified as having ADHD and dyslexia five years ago.  He started by telling Haley the Greek myths, and when he ran out of tales he invented the story of a modern Greek hero, part human and part god.

“Percy was born out of desperation,” he said.

Riordan is also the author of detective novels for adults, set in and around his native San Antonio.

sole source: Motoko Rich’s article in the NY Times on 9/2/08.  www.nytimes.com

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards   614-579-6021  or email  aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

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