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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*The Name of This Book is Secret* by Pseudonymous Bosch- young readers book review
The Name of This Book is Secret
by Pseudonymous Bosch
Ages 9-12 384 pages Little, Brown October 2007 Hardcover    

There is a dangerous secret contained within the pages of this book, but readers are in good hands with author Pseudonymous Bosch. He protects the reader by withholding information when he can, by disguising information when he can’t, and by issuing warnings when he feels it necessary. For our protection, as well as his, he has crossed out all the words in chapter one, used a pseudonym to write the story, and disguised his two main characters with the names Cassandra and Max-Ernest. He calls the location of the story “your hometown” and instructs the reader to “forget everything you read as soon as you read it.” If readers do proceed beyond the warning pages, they will have earned Pseudonymous Bosch’s trust but not his guaranteed protection. The secret this book holds is hidden behind gloved hands and inside vials of smells. It involves reading a blank journal and protecting a boy who paints unusual pictures. While the secret is being pursued by 11-year-old Cassandra and Max-Ernest and a pair of sneaky villains, it’s being watched by a mysterious protective society.

Mystery surrounds the death of magician Pietro Bergamo. When his few possessions are brought to the fire department turned antique store, Cassandra is intrigued. The exercise equipment and mixer hold no interest for her, but the vial of smells does. Her interest and conclusions subsequently intrigue Max-Ernest. Using Cassandra’s survival expertise and Max’s code-breaking techniques, the two friends find themselves exploring the contents of the magician’s house (and its hidden rooms), a story-yielding notebook and one peculiar spa. All the while Cassandra and Max-Ernest are finding clues and stumbling across discoveries relating to the secret, they are moving more quickly and closely to danger.

Cassandra and Max-Ernest are chased by a “Golden Lady” and a deep-voiced, silver-haired man. Although they initially elude the couple, Cassandra and Max-Ernest run into the identity-changing duo again at their own school. While at the school, the couple, who call themselves Ms. Mauvais and Dr. L., kidnap a student and take him away to their Midnight Sun Spa. The identity of this odd pair and their motive behind the kidnapping raise even more questions for Cassandra and Max-Ernest. As their detecting continues, they soon find out that their pursuit of the secret is even more important and complex than they initially thought.

The author includes many amusing extras in this book. He interjects his opinions and explanations in footnotes that appear on the bottom of several pages. In these footnotes, he writes about how to pronounce the word “synesthesia” and talks about why he skipped chapter thirteen. In addition, black and white drawings begin every chapter, hinting at the contents of the chapter and introducing characters and locations. A few chapters also contain spot illustrations; some of these are designed to show signs or logos that are important to the storyline, and some are used to demonstrate codes.

Just as the story begins in an unusual way (with a chapter 1 ½), so it ends. Readers help the author put together the ending of the story in chapter 32, which is followed by a chapter zero that reveals more information about the secret and those involved with its meaning. In the appendix, readers will find Cassandra’s super-chip trail mix recipe, circus lingo definitions, a code-breaking strategy, and the steps for a card trick performed in the book.

Readers will also learn two things about Pseudonymous Bosch after reading his book: he fears mayonnaise, and he’s not the best secret-keeper. He can write a good book, though. His story starts out by piquing your curiosity, continues with several cliffhanger chapter endings, and finishes with surprising new discoveries.

Illustrator Gilbert Ford is more of an open book compared to Pseudonymous Bosch. His work can be found in such publications as The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He owns a dog named Ramona and lives in Brooklyn, New York. His illustrations in The Name of This Book is Secret disclose details that Pseudonymous Bosch wouldn’t dare reveal - or do they? Maybe they have been disguised, too...

Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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  Tanya Boudreau/2007 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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