- Age Range: 9 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 7
- Lexile Measure: 610 (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (February 13, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1484788389
- ISBN-13: 978-1484788387
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Ambrose Deception Hardcover – February 13, 2018
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Melissa, Wilf, and Bondi—an enterprising money-maker, a slacker, and a smooth talker, respectively—are unlikely recipients of a mysterious scholarship offer, but that doesn't stop them from trying to win it anyway. They're given a driver, a cell phone, a debit card, a camera, and three clues, with the instruction that they are to tell no one what they're doing. The first kid to answer all three clues correctly wins a $10,000 scholarship. But as the chase progresses, the kids soon see that things aren't adding up. This realization forces them to work together, prove that they aren't slackers or criminals, and win a prize bigger than anything they've ever dreamed. This fast-paced story set in Chicago takes readers on a scavenger hunt to some of the city's most famous landmarks, with interesting trivia and history to accompany them. Ecton creates an eclectic and vivid cast of characters from varied backgrounds, lending authenticity to this Chicago-set tale. The addition of text messages, emails, and written notes provides a fun interlude between chapters. VERDICT An appealing adventure story likely to be in high demand. A must-buy for all libraries serving middle graders, especially those in the Chicago area.—Jessica Holland, Univ. of Kentucky, Lexington
"Three kids race across Chicago in a competition for a $10,000 scholarship. Who will solve their clues first? The story made me grin, and the clues--truly solvable clues!--had me searching my memory for what I knew of Chicago for answers. (I recommend trying to solve the clues before the characters do.) Then, be prepared for twists. You'll think, 'Yeah, what is going on with all the secrecy? Is something up?' Indeed, it is!"―Amy Timberlake, author of One Came Home, a Newbery Honor Book
"Emily Ecton writes stories that feel like good friends--this is a timelessly fun, funny adventure."―Adam Rex, author of The True Meaning of Smekday
"Readers of the Kingdom Keepers are going to eat this up! Ambrose Deception's tricky quest, a competition between polar opposites, thrusts the reader into a story that satisfies and complicates and then twists at just the right moment. Emily Ecton delivers a readable maze of a novel that middle grade readers will adore and not stop talking about! These characters are quite the accomplishment. I want to be their friend."―Ridley Pearson, best-selling author of the Kingdom Keepers series
Top customer reviews
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The set up is that three kids are selected to compete in a clue based race, with the winner receiving a cash scholarship. Or so it seems, since it's clear from the outset that there's something else, something fishy, going on behind the scenes.
As to the kids, they are supposed to be the kind of slacker losers who would never be selected for an actual scholarship competition. I'm not quite sure why this loserness had to be so hard pedaled, but the good news is that the kids have enough character, as characters, that they grow on the reader almost despite the author's efforts. The better news is that once we get to the fishy part, (about 2/3's of the way in), the kids team up and we get to see their decency, street smarts, and loyalty.
The clue angle is Chicago based. That is the kids, (who have three different clues each), have to find and photograph specific places and things in downtown Chicago. This is a fine idea and it's executed exceptionally well. The clues are actually sneaky, creative and fair, and the places the kids go to make sense. You don't have to know anything about Chicago to enjoy the puzzle, although that would certainly add a bit to the fun. The scavenger hunt also doesn't depend on coincidence, serendipity or luck. Real, sneaky riddles have to be solved in a real practical way. This is not one of those lame books in which answers just sort of appear out of the air, which I think shows it has respect for the young reader.
The book is fast paced. We alternate chapters among the three kids. Chapters start with a recap of the clues and solutions to date. The narrative is broken up by notes, letters, text messages and the like, and that variety punches up the straight prose sections. Each kid has bits of backstory, (about parents, siblings, school problems), but that isn't allowed to weigh down the action.
The plot was straightforward for the most part. It got wacky/silly at the end, but by then you knew where we were headed and knew we were headed for a socko finish at the end of the rollercoaster ride. It helped that once you get to solving the fishy part the kids are more interesting, engaging and high energy, and the reader is primed for pretty much any sort of happy ending.
So, while this started just a shade too dark and downer at the outset it opened up and built up interest pretty quickly. It was a good puzzle adventure that basically played fair and I'd expect most readers would get sucked in and be happy to stay for the whole ride. A good find.
(Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
Melissa lives with her brother and her grandmother. She makes money for lunches and bus fare by doing homework for other students. Otherwise, she is managing to make her way through middle school really under the radar. Bondi is a show-off who has a great sense of smell and a mother who is fixated on kale. Wilf is a slacker who is determined to work through his "to do" list now that he has a driver and debit card and may get to the clues eventually.
The three kids work independently at first. But soon begin to think that it is a scam orchestrated by "Mr. Smith" for some nefarious purpose. It turns out that all the clues they are following are part of the will of billionaire Enoch Ambrose who has recently died. The ones who solve the riddle will inherit his fortune.
I liked the tour of Chicago that this book takes us on. The places mentioned are all real and all sound intriguing. I liked how the kids all worked together once they realized that the scholarship deal was a scam.
This was a fun middle grade mystery/treasure hunt.
The Ambrose Deception captured my attention with the first paragraph and I continued reading the rest with glee! I haven't been this excited about a middle grade read since I first found Kiki Strike by Kirsten Miller. Seriously, this review should just be exclamation points. This scavenger hunt by three preteens will take you on a wild ride when they are chosen to compete for a selective scholarship that no one has ever heard about. Wilf, Melissa, and Bondi are given access to everything a kid would need to go on the ultimate mystery. As the kids figure out the clues, they also find that there is more mystery as to who is giving this prize and why.
All of these kids are smart and each approaches the hunt with varying degrees of interest and need for the grand prize of ten thousand dollars. As they finish the end of the hunt, they decide to come together to unravel who is behind this game. Melissa is probably my favorite since she is a snarky red-head that is intent on making this work. Wilf just wants to get by and have fun. Bondi really is smart but hides that fact by his antics. The background of Chicago featured easily recognizable sites and since I was there recently, it was just the perfect background. It is always exciting to have seen landmarks that you are reading about. I really want more from this author!