cover image 15 Secrets to Survival

15 Secrets to Survival

Natalie D. Richards. Delacorte, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-5936-4412-6

All his life, 12-year-old Baxter Phillips has been part of what his mother coined “The Getalong Gang,” a playgroup comprised of her and her best friends’ children. In addition to gamer Baxter, there’s perfectionist Emerson and her gentle-giant twin brother Turner Casella, and Abigail Walters, a competitive gymnast with confidence in spades. The problem is, the four middle schoolers rarely get along. When the tweens’ tension comes to a head during a school-sponsored trivia contest, they’re disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct. As further punishment, they’re forced to complete a group extra-credit assignment, which involves the gang being sent to stay with Baxter’s survivalist great-uncle Hornsby in the Montana winter wilderness, an event intended to teach them teamwork. But when Uncle Hornsby sets up an elaborate network of interconnected puzzles, Turner, Emerson, Abigail, and Baxter, along with his feisty younger sister Vivi, rush to solve the puzzles with the help of pages from Hornsby’s self-written guide to survival—until something goes awry with Hornsby’s plans. Immediate first-person, present-tense prose keeps the emotional resonance high in this fast-paced adventure that features a charging moose, potential hypothermia, and plenty of friendship drama. Characters read as white. Ages 8–12. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary. (Nov.)