Book Scavenger

Book review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Book Scavenger Book Poster Image
Fascinating mystery nurtures a love of puzzles and codes.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 9 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Reinforces the value of intellectual curiosity, reading, problem-solving, history, adventure, and being open to new experiences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are complex, flawed, and driven. Emily is a headstrong, curious, driven girl who loves puzzles, mysteries, and reading. Her brother, Matthew, is passionate about his favorite band and is wise-cracking but loving. Friend James is an enthusiastic puzzle-solving ally, and though a few adults are thieves up to no good, parents and other adults are present, engaged, and concerned or otherwise helpful guides on the problem-solving journey.


A man smacks a man across the face with his cane. A man is shot in the back, bleeds, and falls unconscious. Kids stalked around the city, chased, and confronted by two adults, a man pulls a gun on kids.


Mild insult humor such as "rat" or calling Matthew "Barfew" and Emily "Phlegmily."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The story of Edgar Allan Poe's excessive drinking and smoking is recounted.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Book Scavenger is a captivating, engaging mystery set in San Francisco with a 12-year-old girl as protagonist. It includes puzzles, ciphers, and codes, in addition to detective work. A prominent character is shot in the back and spends the majority of the novel unconscious as preteens work to solve the mystery of his attack while also participating in a book scavenger hunt. The novels puts intellectual curiosity, puzzles, and problem-solving front and center while weaving in the true history of Edgar Allan Poe and other authors. A must-read for book and puzzle lovers.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMelanie M. February 28, 2017


This book is a page-turner. It never stops. The 2 main characters are unlikely friends, and they show some cool characteristics of friendship throughout -- su... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old November 20, 2017

Book Scavenger

I thought this book was very good and pretty appropriate for about a 3rd grader but someone younger wouldn’t really get it.
Teen, 15 years old Written byShowman movie13 September 11, 2019

Suspense, epic, fast paced, and soem unexpected violence.

This book is very awesome for kids to read. I really loved the book. It was fast-paced and epic. I really enjoyed the book. There is some unexpected violence th... Continue reading

What's the story?

Twelve-year-old Emily is used to moving around; her parents are on a mission to eventually live in all 50 states. But when she moves to San Francisco, she's particularly thrilled because it's the home of her favorite author, Garrison Griswold, the creator of Book Scavenger, a game that involves hiding books, finding clues, and tracking them down for points and bragging rights. The trouble is, Griswold has been shot, and a rare book in his possession has been lost. Emily gets her hands on it, but she still has to crack the code before the thieves who attacked Griswold do it first.

Is it any good?

BOOK SCAVENGER is a book lover's delight: It weaves in mysteries, puzzles, and secret treasure with the real histories of beloved authors. Emily is an admirable and relatably flawed character for book worms. She gets caught up in the stories she loves, sometimes to the detriment of her real-world relationships. Here, readers are encouraged to break codes and solve puzzles alongside the protagonist, consider the history of famous authors in a new light, and navigate relationships with friends and loved ones as they move in and out of the world of books and the world we inhabit every day. 

The book could engage otherwise reluctant readers, as it shows that the life of the mind can be plenty exciting in real life while reinforcing the engrossing escape books can offer. It also features definitions in the back, with resources for real-life Book Scavengers that readers can participate in.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the book's format of puzzles and codes. Could you solve the codes? Were they difficult or hard for you?

  • Was the history of Edgar Allan Poe what you expected? How was it different from what you've learned in school?

  • Have you ever solved a mystery? What was it? How did you figure it out?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mystery

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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