cover image Chester Keene Cracks the Code

Chester Keene Cracks the Code

Kekla Magoon. Random/Lamb, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5247-1599-1

Magoon (The Season of Styx Malone) skillfully blends family, friendship, and forgiveness in this endearing adventure starring spy-in-training Chester Keene. Eleven-year-old biracial (Black and white) Chester lives alone with his mother, having never met his father. Nevertheless, Chester credits his dad—whom he believes to be a covert agent, and who mails him spy books and offers advice, such as how to navigate bullies, through email exchanges—for his own inclination toward spy work. After a mysterious envelope containing an unfinished riddle, seemingly from his dad, appears on his doorstep, Chester becomes embroiled in a puzzle-laden scavenger hunt with an important prize at the end. Joined by Japanese American and white classmate Skye, who inexplicably has the missing puzzle pieces, the two search across town for the remaining clues. But as they encounter nefarious locals, the duo fear that their once lighthearted hunt has higher stakes than they initially thought. Skye’s chaotic puzzle-solving skills complement Chester’s meticulousness, and their joy in code-cracking is palpable. Astutely conceived riddles and Chester’s lively first-person narration deliver an action-packed mystery that highlights trusting in the bonds of friends and family, and encourages having patience with loved ones. Ages 8–12. Agent: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown Ltd. (July)