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Walls Within Walls Hardcover – September 14, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8–Twelve-year-old CJ, his nine-year-old sister Brid, and six-year-old Patrick Smithfork resent leaving Brooklyn for Manhattan, even though they are pleased that their dad's video-game company has struck it rich. Finding a wall, a painting, and a book behind a grille in their historical Fifth Avenue apartment, the children start to decipher clues that send them on an architectural treasure hunt. Their neighbor Eloise Post hopes that the hunt will reveal the whereabouts of her father's lost fortune from the 1930s. The man left a book of poems by Langston Hughes, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and others that lead to seven famous structures around the city. This debut novel is a breathtaking romp, focusing on the work of little-known master tile mason and architect Rafael Guastavino. Sherry's passion will make readers fall in love with New York and the poems that portray its many personalities. Full-page illustrations appear throughout. There is a majesty to the author's juxtaposition of monument and poem, although this grandeur masks some of the book's irregularities. The third-person perspective shifts in a way that distances readers from the main characters and impedes character development. Secondary figures are sometimes sketched lightly, although the implied sequel may develop them more fully. Similar to “The 39 Clues” (Scholastic) books or Michael D. Beil's “The Red Blazer Girls” (Knopf), this story incorporates many subplots but lacks a tidy narrative. Nevertheless, readers will relish being tourists on this treasure hunt, no matter what. Pick it up and watch for the sequel.Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

The Smithfork children, at least the older ones, CJ, Brid, and Patrick—12, 9, and 6, respectively—are unhappy about leaving Brooklyn for Manhattan. Their father’s video-game business is so lucrative that they’re moving to a fabulous Fifth Avenue apartment once owned by the Post family. The kids are as depressed as they are unimpressed, until they notice something unusual about the place. Turns out the apartment is a giant puzzle filled with codes, clues, and carvings that seem to point toward a secret fortune. But finding it and figuring out who it belongs to takes skill, stamina, and the ability to conduct searches across the city without tipping their hand. This can be dense, but like Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer (2004), it packs all sorts of interesting information about topics like history and architecture into a mystery that kids can (almost) solve. Although the way the children run around Manhattan may raise some eyebrows, readers will get a real feel for the uniqueness that is New York City. Grades 4-7. --Ilene Cooper
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 770L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Golden Sower Intermediate 2013
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006176700X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061767005
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #953,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Recently added to the 2010 American Booksellers Association list of Best New Voices, Maureen Sherry was born in New York City and raised in Rockland County, New York. She graduated from both Cornell and Columbia Universities and went on to work on Wall Street, retiring as a managing director after twelve years. She used her extra time to ply her four young children with fantastic stories on a more regular basis and became adept at all things action-figured, sugary, mysterious and pink.

When moving homes brought feelings of melancholy with it, Maureen left behind clues to tell the next family about their time within those beloved walls. Riffing on this, her family had other clues embedded in their new home, clues that will eventually lead a future homeowner to a good story. This idea of the walls of a home being a living, breathing thing is the basis of this action adventure through the nooks of New York City.

Currently Maureen volunteers in public after-school programs both in Harlem and Brooklyn and is grateful for the lively, hopeful voices she gets to listen to on a regular basis.

She can often be found standing on her hands.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sixth Grade Reviewer on May 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Do you want to read a book that draws you into another world? If you like to read books that absorb you completely, read Walls Within Walls by Maureen Sherry. When Brid, CJ, and Patrick move with their family from Brooklyn to 5th avenue--Manhattan--they don't know what to do. Dad is always away on business for his new multi-million dollar company and Mom is busy decorating the new house. When Brid accidentally looks behind a broken metal grille, she finds a large, mysterious eye, painted on a hidden wall. The three siblings become entangled with the mystery of the fortune of Mr. Post. Mr. Post was a multi-millionaire and had made a puzzle, that if solved, would lead to his fortune. The siblings discover a code encrypted on the painted eye. This is the first piece of Mr. Post's puzzle. It is crucial for the children to work together and cooperate with their friends, to solve the puzzle. They soon discover that a sinister man--who intrudes into their house--is looking for the fortune too.
This book teems with the mystery and excitement, which every book should have. Walls within Walls is written with detail and care, as you will appreciate during the children's trek into the large and dangerous city of New York. While getting trapped in dark-flooded subways, followed by treasure hunters, and escaping dangerous areas, the children make friends with many different people. The artwork is magnificent and meticulous as is the book. I think there needs to be more of an introduction to the characters and their family. Otherwise the book is packed with excitement, action and adventure as Patrick, CJ and Brid find themselves in an exciting mystery in the Big Apple.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By square root of pi on November 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Walls Within Walls is a fantastic book. It is very well written and I throughly enjoyed it. The plot and characters are very good. Maureen Sherry creativily weaves together bits and pieces to form the main mystery. THe plot has a web of many clues which make it even more enjoyable. I really recommend Walls Within Walls to anyone who loves a great story!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mary Evans on November 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A great story including New York history, famous figures and families, and the magic of siblings solving a mystery together. This is a wonderful tale of children meeting the many challenges of a move and quickly discovering that their new home has a special story of its own. I especially loved the underlying notion of a home having a unique history of the families who have lived and loved there, and how this is continued each time a new family moves in. Can't wait for the Smithforks' next mystery!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Van Atta on May 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I've been trying to get my daughter, 4th grade, to move on to something besides re-reading Harry Potter. She loves mysteries and adventures, and this book was the biggest hit since the Percy Jackson series. She stayed up late on a Sunday night after finishing, reading all the extras at the end aloud to me and highly recommends the book to me! We are both looking forward to the next title by this author.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Charlize on January 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
We read this book in my 10 year old daughter's book club. It is a fast paced novel with fantastic puzzles, mysteries and history lessons about New York City. Everyone loved the book and it lent itself to a rich discussion. I highly recommend the book and can not wait for Sherry's next book!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bargain Ron on September 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Enjoyed how this mystery unfolded. I could envision all the different locations in NY without having been there. Excellent debut novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Laura Peterson on July 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
My daughter (age 9) is reading this for school and we have been reading it together at night. Let's just say she has been up WAY past her bedtime because we cannot wait to see what will happen next, what the next clue will be, or where they head off to explore in the next chapter. It is fun, creative, sweet and suspenseful, plus the characters are wonderful, kind and well-developed. Terrific book for 4th grade and up.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Marisa on January 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am reading this aloud to my 11-yr-old daughter. At this age, it's really hard to keep her interesting in reading aloud (she'd rather run off and reread the Harry Potter series on her own), and Walls within Walls is proving terrific. We live in Manhattan, so that makes it particularly interesting for us, but it's really the on-going mystery story that's working so well. Fabulous book!
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