Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Review: The Puzzling World of Winston Breen

When Winston Breen gives his sister a beautifully patterned keepsake box for her birthday, he doesn't expect much gratitude. He knows Katie won't be impressed, as much as he was intrigued by the diamond pattern on the box's lid. And, Katie isn't impressed. After all, who gives a ten-year-old girl an empty box for her birthday? She's sure Winston is up to something.

In searching for Winston's trick, Katie finds a secret compartment in the box--a secret compartment containing four wood sticks with puzzle clues. Winston's ill-considered gift is even more ill-considered than he thought! You see, Winston is a puzzle freak and now this ultimate puzzle is in his sister's hands.

With a little research, Winston learns that the box belonged to one of the four Fredericks' children. Mr. Fredericks was the richest man in town, and he gave his children four sticks each upon his death. By working together, the Fredericks' children would find a treasure Fredericks' left for them. Only it didn't work out that way. The Fredericks' children fought to the end. In fact, only one of them, a town librarian named Mrs. Lewis, is still alive when Winston purchased the box.

But that doesn't mean Mr. Fredericks' puzzle remains unknown. Professional puzzle hunters are on the case and Mrs. Lewis decrees that they must all work together to solve the case.

The Puzzling World of Winston Breen is a fast-paced, puzzle-filled mystery for the Middle Grade reader. Readers work puzzles along with Winston, so this book is the perfect choice for any child who loves a good mystery and working puzzles. Winston is a compelling character--a nice kid who will stop everything to solve a difficult puzzle. Central to the novel as well is working through sibling rivalry. Mr. Fredericks' wanted his children to work together to solve his puzzle. His last remaining daughter regrets they never did and advises Winston to learn from her mistakes.

The Puzzling World of Winston Breen is classic Middle Grade fiction, best suited for children ages 8-12.

Other blog reviews:

A Fuse #8 Production
Jen Robinson's Book Page
The Puzzling World of Winston Breen, by Eric Berlin. G.P. Putnam's Soons, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-399-24693-7.