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The Maze of Bones (39 Clues, No. 1) Hardcover – September 9, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 384 customer reviews
Book 1 of 11 in the 39 Clues Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Built around a ripe conceit—wealthy matriarch scatters cryptic clues to a mysterious fortune around the globe—this first installment in a projected 10-book series is tons of fun. Lead-off hitter Riordan (The Lightning Thief) mixes just the right proportions of suspense, peril and puzzles in a fast-paced read (Riordan mapped the narrative arc for all 10 volumes, but other high-profile authors will be writing for the series, too). Likable orphans Amy and Dan Cahill have moxie (plus Dan can memorize numbers instantly) and frailties (Amy hates crowds). As the siblings compete with less honorable members of the Cahill clan, all distantly related to Benjamin Franklin, to win the fortune by collecting all 39 clues (only two are found in this first book), they learn about their dead parents, each other and world history. The humor is spot on—one uncle is credited with inventing the microwave burrito. The only flaw? The story does not end so much as drop off a cliff. (The second book, One False Note by Gordon Korman, is set to arrive in December.) While waiting, readers can collect cards, each of which contains evidence, and play the online game (www.the39clues.com), for which Scholastic is offering over $100,000 in prizes. This ought to have as much appeal to parents as it does to kids—it's Webkinz without the stuffed animals, and a rollicking good read. Ages 9–12. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 4–7—When their beloved Aunt Grace dies, Dan, 11, and Amy, 14—along with other Cahill descendants—are faced with an unusual choice: inherit one million dollars or participate in a perilous treasure hunt. Cahills have determined the course of history for centuries, and this quest's outcome will bring the victors untoward power and affect all of humankind. Against the wishes of nasty Aunt Beatrice, their reluctant guardian since their parents' deaths, Dan and Amy accept the challenge, convincing their college-age au pair to serve as designated adult. Pitted against other Cahill teams, who will stop at nothing to win, the siblings decipher the first of 39 clues and are soon hot on the historical trail of family member Ben Franklin to unearth the next secret. Adeptly incorporating a genuine kids' perspective, the narrative unfolds like a boulder rolling downhill and keeps readers glued to the pages. As the siblings work together to solve puzzles and survive dangers, they develop into well-drawn individuals with their own strengths and personalities. Supporting Cahill cast members come across as intentionally exaggerated caricatures, adding to the tale's breathless fun. The book dazzles with suspense, plot twists, and snappy humor, but the real treasure may very well be the historical tidbits buried in the story. Part of a multimedia launch including a Web site, collectable game cards, and a 10-title series (penned by different authors), this novel stands solidly on its own feet and will satisfy while whetting appetites for more.—Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 610L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Maze of Bones (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1st edition (September 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545060397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545060394
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (384 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michelle M. Wright on September 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There's already a review that is negative about this series for being a blatant marketing scheme. While I was a bit put off at first by the whole book series/trading cards, now that we've bought the book and a few card packs, I'm a huge fan. Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series helped ignite my 10-year old son's passion for reading. He's now half-way through Maze of Bones, and thoroughly enjoying it. He's noted on the calendar the date the next book will be released. I have to admit I'm reviewing the book without having read it myself yet, but based on the number of times my son has read me excerpts, I'd say it is succeeding with the target audience.

As for the trading cards, well, 10-year old boys love trading cards - Pokemon, Yu-gi-oh, and so on. These cards are different though. They have puzzles on them that the reader has to solve. They're not that tough - they seem simplistic to me as an adult - but for my son, they're challenging enough that he feels a sense of accomplishment when he solves them, but not so challenging that he's had to enlist parental help very often. The web site provides hints. We did have a problem entering one card. We sent e-mail to support and the problem was quickly fixed. I was pleased when my son noticed a clue hidden in the book. I believe the puzzles have him looking at the books much more analytically.

I'm hoping (as is Scholastic) that by including different authors in the series, my son will be encouraged to read other books by these authors as well. I see this as a win-win situation. Anything that gets kids to read is OK by me.

I think this is a brilliant marketing move on Scholastic's part. I try to teach my kids to be informed consumers, and understand when they are being manipulated.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was reminded of both The Da Vinci Code and the Harry Potter books as I read Maze of Bones. First of all, it's an addictive read. Second, it is a mystery with multiple clues involving famous people, like Dan Brown's book. Last, like J.K. Rowling's famous books, it is about a group of people separated into four different branches, or houses; and about children saving the world.

The plot involves the diverse, far-flung Cahill family, which has been the most powerful family in history. Anyone important in history was probably a Cahill, including Abraham Lincoln, Isaac Newton, Winston Churchill, Napoleon Bonaparte and, especially, Benjamin Franklin. The source of the Cahill's power has been lost over time. The 39 Clues is about the search for that source, by a group of Cahill relatives vying against each other to find the answer. The clues are found all over the world.

Penniless orphans Amy and Dan Cahill enlist the help of their teenage au pair, Nellie, to find the solution to the mystery. The kids seem like real people, and you root for them against their mostly despicable relatives. Amy is a painfully shy, stuttering 14-year-old; Dan is a precocious 11-year-old who loves collecting things. Although they often fight, the siblings help each other during the many dangerous adventures collecting the clues.

Maze of Bones is the first of 10 books in this new Scholastic series, which also has an elaborate supplemental contest where readers can try to come up with the answers to the clues themselves. The book comes with six game cards that you can use to get clues online.
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Format: Hardcover
Before I dive straight into the review, let me tell you where I'm coming from. I'm seventeen. I do realize that I'm outside of the intended age range of this book, but I read and enjoy many other children's series. Rick Riordan is one of my favorite authors, so my mother, out of the kindness of her heart, saw his name on the cover of The 39 Clues and decided to pick it up for me.

The 39 Clues is about the Cahill family. They're a big family. They're a very big family. They're so big, in fact, that every major person in history has been part of this family. I bet you never knew that Napoleon Bonaparte, Abraham Lincoln, and Benjamin Franklin were related. Oh, yeah, and they have family members all over the world, never mind that that it's impossible to have a Korean uncle, a British cousin, and a Russian...I don't even know what she is, without any of them being married/genetically related. Okay, clearly this is a work of fiction, so I'll just suspend my disbelief for a second. No problem. Let's continue. Grace Cahill, the head of the family (or so I believe, since it's never really explained), dies of cancer, and in her will she presents a challenge to all her relatives. They can either take the first of thirty-nine clues that will lead them to the source of the Cahill family's power, or they can take one million dollars and walk away.

Enter Amy and Dan Cahill. Dan is a hyperactive, eleven-year-old math genius, and Amy is a timid, fourteen-year-old bibliophile. Amy and Dan decide to take up the challenge, despite the fact that they (a have no money and (b don't have permission from their guardian. However, they're not alone.
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