Book CoverThe 39 Clues
Book one: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
Book two: One False Note by Gordon Korman
New York: Scholastic, 2008-
A Review by
Colleen R. Cahill
April, 2009


Today many people see children’s books for the next big thing, citing the Harry Potter phenomenon.  Certainly Scholastic is on the prowl with their their latest offering, a ten book series call The 39 Clues.  These books include game cards and a website offering large prizes and at first I found this off-putting, but decided to take a chance on the first two titles, The Maze of Bones, by Rick Riordan and One False Note, by Gordon Korman.  These have proved to be fun books with lots of action and adventure.  There is no magic here, but plenty of intrigue, mystery and travel, as a pair of siblings take on a search that could lead to “power beyond belief”, if they aren’t killed on the way.


Amy and Dan Cahill seem like the only people in the family who mourn the loss of their Grandmother Grace.  At the reading of the will they are amazed by the choice given to them and 50 other relations: take a 1 million dollar inheritance or hunt for 39 clues that could lead them to wealth and power.  After some hesitancy, the pair become one of the seven teams who choose adventure over easy money.  Even though they don’t have the wealth or experience of the other groups, the timid fourteen year old Amy  and eleven year old risk-seeking Dan do have the mix of brains and daring to take on the challenge. Their biggest threat is their unusual relations, such as Alistair Oh, a Korean who inventing the microwave burrito. Danger is everywhere, even in their Grandmother’s library where they are almost burned alive when the house is consumed in a blaze.  Realizing they cannot travel alone, they turn to their nanny, Nellie Gomez, a bit of a free spirit who speaks three languages and really wants to be a chef.  The trio travels from Boston to Philadelphia, then over to Europe as they seek the maze of bones left by Benjamin Franklin and then musical clues left by Mozart.


OK, I admit I picked up these books because, as a Cahill myself, I was intriqued by the idea of being part of the most powerful family in the world.  What I found was a fun work that combined adventure with quite a bit of history, pointing out humorous facts such as Benjamin Franklin’s essay on flatulence. Don’t expect total historical accuracy, as I know the Cahill family is not divided into five waring branches, but after all, this is fiction.  These books are quick and fun, perfect for reluctant readers as well as those who enjoy something with a lot of humor and dash.


There are slated to be 10 books in The 39 Clues series, and I am looking forward to the next one, due out this June.  Take it from a member of the family, these books are a romp!