Review of Chester Keene Cracks the Code

Chester Keene Cracks the Code Chester Keene Cracks the Code
by Kekla Magoon
Intermediate, Middle School    Lamb/Random    304 pp.   g
7/22    978-1-5247-1599-1    $16.99
Library ed.  978-1-5247-1600-4    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5247-1601-1    $9.99

Twelve-year-old Chester Keene is perfectly content to adhere to his regular routines, making sure he doesn’t worry his mother with his daily struggles (including an increasingly aggressive bully) and making careful observations of others around him—without any personal interactions. He does so to impress his father, whom he hasn’t seen in years because he’s been away on “spy missions” (based on the latest birthday gifts Chester’s received). Only accessible by intermittent emails, Chester’s dad gives him advice about bullies, school, and life in general. When Chester receives a cryptic note at his front door, he’s certain his father is in danger and needs help with a perilous assignment. He immediately jumps into action…only to discover that the mission requires a partner. Carefree, haphazard Skye is the complete opposite of Chester, but, as he has to admit, they work well together as they solve increasingly tricky riddles. When the mission turns dangerous and Dad goes incommunicado, Chester is forced to rely on his powers of observation even further—and what he discovers changes everything. Chester’s attempts to make sense of the world around him are equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, since he is fully aware of his social awkwardness and rigid idiosyncrasies. Taking great care with issues related to blended families and bullying, Magoon (The Season of Styx Malone, rev. 9/18) gives readers another emotional and satisfying read.

From the July/August 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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