Thrills and Chills at Skeleton Creek

(First published on Manila Bulletin, Students and Campuses section)

Something sinister is bubbling beneath the surface of the backwater town of Skeleton Creek, and best friends Ryan McCray and Sarah Fincher appear to have stirred it. Ryan and Sarah are convinced that Skeleton Creek is harboring secrets, and they are determined to get to the bottom of it, even though there are forces that want to stop them at all costs.

This is the premise behind Scholastic Press’ latest multimedia venture, following the phenomenal success of its interactive middle reader series 39 Clues, which had readers collecting clue cards and playing online games in the hunt for the Cahill family treasure. This time around, Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman introduces readers to a new multimedia format: video books.

“Books are having a harder time holding the attention of a wired youth culture. iPods, cell phones, movies, the Internet, video games, and television are distracting even our best young readers,” states Skeleton Creek creator Patrick Carman. “I developed Skeleton Creek for ten to sixteen year olds who have grown up with YouTube and MySpace for one reason: I want them to read. While there will always be plenty of room for traditional books for young adults, publishing has to think outside the box in order to bring back many of our young readers.”

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39 Clues hits the halfway mark with “The Black Circle”


Nearly a year after its launch, Scholastic’s groundbreaking action adventure series, The 39 Clues, reaches the halfway mark with the fifth installment of the ten book-series, The Black Circle (book#135 for 2009), by Patrick Carman.

The interactive multi-media series has been making its way to eager young readers around the world. Aside from the simultaneous release of the hardcover and audio editions in various parts of the word, Scholastic reports that the series has been licensed for publication in 17 foreign languages, including Japanese, Italian, German, Chinese, French, Greek, and Hebrew.

The adventure series recently made its debut in Scandinavia with the first three books released in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, and followed by the release of the first three books in Japan. Additional international editions are set for release in 2010.

At the heart of the series is the Cahill family, a powerful family that has produced the movers and shakers in world history. When the last remaining Cahill matriarch, Grace, passes away, she leaves 11-year old Dan and his  14-year old sister Amy a strange bequest: the choice between a million dollars for each of them, or the first clue in the quest for the Cahill family legacy, and a reward beyond measure.

Choosing the path of adventure, Dan and Amy go off on the adventure of a lifetime to beat the rest of the Cahills to the source of their family’s power, getting in touch with the lives of other prominent Cahills along the way:  Benjamin Franklin in The Maze of Bones, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in One False Note, Toyotomi Hideyoshi in The Sword Thief, and Howard Carter in Beyond the Grave.
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Now reading: The Black Circle (The 39 Clues Book 5)

book5bFinally, I got my hands on a copy of The Black Circle by Patrick Carman, Book 5 of The 39 Clues.

It’s a bit delayed because I miscounted the months and thought it was coming out in September, when the worldwide release was actually August 11. Whoopsies.

Anyway, readers of this blog know I’m a big fan of the series, comprised of The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan, One False Note by Gordon Korman, The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis, Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson, and now this latest installment by Carman.

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The 39 Clues adventure continues with 4th book

book41As the 4th installment of The 39 Clues series hits bookstore shelves this month, thousands of kids around the world embark on another leg in the quest for the Cahill family treasure.

Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson is the latest book in the action-adventure series that has taken the world by storm, released alongside The 39 Clues Card Pack 2: Branch vs. Branch, a new wave of randomly assorted collectible game cards, to span Books 4, 5, and 6, plus the simultaneous audiobook edition of “Beyond the Grave” which includes exclusive bonus material.

With over 3 million books in print, the series’ interactive reading experience is a hit with kids worldwide, with more than 500,000 online game users from 191 countries on The 39 Clues website (, and more members joining each day.

The 39 Clues features 11-year old Dan and 14-year old Amy Cahill, who discover that they belong to the world’s most powerful family. When their grandmother Grace passes away, they are made to choose their inheritance: one million dollars each, or the first clue in the quest for the legacy of the Cahill family. Choosing the key to their family’s source of power, Dan and Amy embark on a thrilling quest, with the rest of the Cahills hot on their heels in a race to a reward beyond measure.

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