Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby - ESSENTIAL

Ruby, Laura York: The Shadow Cipher, 476 pages. Walden Pond Press (Harper Collins Publishers), 2017. $18. Language: G; Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.

The first book in a series, York is set in an almost recognizable, slightly futuristic version of modern day New York City. Twins, Tess and Theo Biedermann, set out to solve a mystery, the Old York Cipher, left behind more than one hundred and sixty years earlier by another set of twins, Theresa and Theodore Morningstarr. Tess and Theo must solve the Cipher if they are going to save their apartment building from being demolished by a real estate developer. Studying the Cipher is nothing new to their family. Their grandfather is the past president of the Old York Cipher Society and has been trying to solve the mystery his entire life. Along with another eighth grader, Jaime Cruz, who also lives in their building, they embark on a quest with cryptic clues, almost unbreakable codes, and, of course, danger. 

This entertaining book has well developed characters and keeps a good pace from beginning to end. It mixes humor (feeling sorry for bugs while eating a bugburger), history (with references to the Founding Fathers), and the inevitable emotional experience of the tween age years in a way that keeps the reader looking forward to the next chapter. Mostly a G-rated book, I gave it a PG rating for the intensity and realism of some of the action sequences. Students who read it will be lining up to read book two when it comes out. Well worth adding to a middle school library.     

MS – ESSENTIAL. LMA, Future elementary school teacher

No comments: