30 April 2018
The Alcatraz Escape
Bertman, Jennifer. The Alcatraz Escape. Henry Holt, 2018
Emily, James, and their friends are going to try an escape room set up by Grizwald himself, set on Alcatraz Island. Once they reach the island, though, there are more mysteries to solve than just the puzzles that are a part of the game. Will they be able to solve the puzzles in time to win the grand prize, and can they do it in time to guarantee that the bookshop receives its large donation?
This is a fantastic middle grade mystery/adventure story, perfect for fans of the previous two installments or Chris Grabenstein's Lemoncello books. The puzzles and the mysterious events keep the reader turning pages to find out what will happen. There is suspense and some mildly scary situations, but this is a clean read that I could wholeheartedly recommend to any child.
What stood out to me the most was a discussion that some of the characters had near the end of the story, where one character says, "If you love something, like a book or a movie, and then you find out the person who created it did something awful or wasn't a very good person--is it still okay to love what they created?" Bertman doesn't provide an answer to this timely question, beyond that "people are complicated," which is certainly true.
I highly recommend this book for kids who like puzzles, for teachers who like to have read-alouds for their classroom, and for those who want their kids to read "clean" stories but still provide them with a challenge.
Recommended for: middle grade and tweens
Red Flags: mild bullying
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars
Read-Alikes: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, Greenglass House, I Kill the Mockingbird
I received a complimentary copy of this book through the publisher for the purposes of review.