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About the Author

Jennifer Chambliss Bertman was a book-loving, game-playing, puzzle-solving daydreamer of a kid who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. When she was eighteen, she interned for a magazine in Manhattan and fell in love with the publishing industry. She went on to intern for another magazine as well as a literary agent, edited a literary magazine, worked as a production editor for a major publisher in San Francisco, and worked as a freelance proofreader and copyeditor. She holds an MFA in creative writing and now lives in Colorado with her family. To learn more about her, visit her website or the following:

Book Scavenger

by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
with illustrations by Sarah Watts

Twelve-year-old Emily is on the move again. Her family is relocating to San Francisco, home of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger, a game where books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles. But Emily soon learns that Griswold has been attacked and is in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold and leads to a valuable prize. But there are others on the hunt for this book, and Emily and James must race to solve the puzzles Griswold left behind before Griswold’s attackers make them their next target.

Published by Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt and Company
ISBN: 978-1-62779-115-1
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
  • New York Times Bestseller
  • Bank Street College Best Book of the Year 
  • NCTE Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts
  • Indie Next Kids’ #6 pick (Summer 2015)
  • ABA Indies Introduce Debut Authors and New Voices Finalist 
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Year
  • Junior Library Guild selection, 2015
  • A Publishers Weekly Best Book for Summer
  • SF Gate Summer Reads Recommendation, 2015
  • Cybils Middle Grade Fiction Finalist, 2015
  • SCBWI Crystal Kite Award Finalist, 2016
  • Colorado Book Award Finalist, 2016
  • Georgia Children’s Book Award Finalist, 2016-2017
  • Maryland Black Eyed Susan Award Nominee, 2016-2017
  • Massachusetts Children’s Book Award Nominee, 2016-2017
  • Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award Nominee, 2016-2017
  • Triple Crown Lamplighter Book Award Winner, 2016-2017
  • Utah Educational Library Media Association Award Master List Selection, 2016
  • Jr Tome Society and Club Tome It List Nominee, 2016-2017
  • Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee, 2017-2018
  • Louisiana Young Readers Choice Award Nominee, 2017-2018
  • Missouri Mark Twain Award Nominee, 2017-2018
  • Nebraska Golden Sower Award Finalist, 2017-2018
  • North Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominee, 2017-2018
  • Connecticut Nutmeg Book Award Nominee, 2018
  • Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award Nominee, 2017-2018
  • Illinois Bluestem Book Award Nominee, 2017-2018
  • Utah Beehive Award Nominee, 2018
  • Mississippi Magnolia Children’s Choice Book Award Nominee, 2018
  • Rhode Island Middle School Book Award Nominee, 2018
  • Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award Nominee, 2018
  • Washington Library Association Sasquatch Book Award Nominee, 2018
  • Oregon Battle of the Books selection 2018-2019
  • Minnesota Youth Reading Award Nominee 2018-2019
  • Hawaii Nēnē Award Nominee, 2018
  • West Australian Young Readers Book Award Nominee, 2019
  • Translation rights sold in: French, Spanish, Catalan, German, Czech, Polish, Chinese (Simplified and Complex), Russian, Korean, Romanian, Turkish, and Hungarian




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Chapter 1

            Garrison Griswold whistled his way down Market Street, silver hair bobbing atop his head like a pigeon wing. He tapped his trademark walking stick, striped in Bayside Press colors, to the beat of his tune. A cabdriver slowed and honked his horn, leaning to his passenger-side window.

            “Mr. Griswold! You want a ride? It’s on me, my friend.”

            “Very kind of you, but I’m fine, thank you,” Mr. Griswold called back, and raised his cane in a salute. He preferred traveling by streetcar or BART. They were the veins of this city he loved, after all.

            A woman clutching a cell phone hurried to Mr. Griswold’s side.

            “My son is such a fan of Book Scavenger. Can I trouble you for a photograph?”

            Mr. Griswold checked his wristwatch. Plenty of time to spare before he had to be at the main library for his big announcement. He balanced a hand on the woman’s shoulder as she held the phone at arm’s length to take the picture.

            “So is it true?” she asked. “Do you have another game in the works?”

            In response, Mr. Griswold pulled an imaginary zipper across his lips and gave her a wink. He contin­ued on his way, through the stream of pedestrians, whistling and tapping his cane on the brick sidewalk, completely unaware of the two men who’d stepped into his wake.

Advance Praise

“Full of heart and replete with challenging ciphers for readers to decode, Bertman’s debut is literary cousin to classic puzzlers like The Westing Game.” —Publisher’s Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Fans of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library will appreciate the abundant literary allusions, and readers will hope for more adventures, hinted at in the book’s final lines.” –Jennifer M. Brown, children’s editor, Shelf Awareness, STARRED REVIEW

“A debut that challenges the brain while warming the heart.” Kirkus Review

“Well paced and involving, the story will intrigue kids with an interest in mysteries and codes as well as books. The writing includes references to local landmarks as well as literary allusions to Jack Kerouac, Robert Louis Stevenson, and, especially, Edgar Allan Poe. A lively first novel.” —Booklist

Bertman’s debut novel establishes her as a major new voice in middle grade fiction. Prediction: Book Scavenger will become a beloved classic in the mode of The Westing Game and The Egypt Game. It’s off the charts wonderful.” —Claudia Mills, author of Zero Tolerance and Kelsey Green, Reading Queen

“Book Scavenger is that flashlight-under-the-bedcovers book that would have gotten me into serious trouble when I was a kid. How can so much fun and excitement be packed into these pages? Let’s all clamor for Book Scavenger to be real!”  Jody Feldman, author of The Gollywhopper Games

Book Scavenger is the book I dreamed of when I was young. Adventure! Ciphers! Hidden treasure! And it’s all for the love and celebration of books! This book nerd couldn’t put it down, and you won’t be able to, either.” —K. A. Holt, author of Rhyme Schemer and House Arrest