fiction favorites…The Puzzling World of Winston Breen

The Puzzling World of Winston Breen, by Eric Berlin

There was a faint snap — the sound of a tiny piece of wood breaking.  “Aha!” said Katie, with triumph…”You hid something in here…I knew it!”
Winston’s father, Nathan, leaned over to look.  “It has a false bottom,” he said, amazed.  “The box has a secret compartment.”
Winston drew closer.  Sure enough, Katie had found a way to remove the floor of the box, revealing a handful of…well, what?  They appeared to be thin wooden strips with letters on them.  What on earth were they?
“What is this, Winston?  I don’t want to go on another puzzle hunt this year.”  But when Katie looked up into Winston’s face, she saw immediately that he hadn’t done this.  His expression was one of bewilderment…a look he wore only when faced with a really hard puzzle.  She looked back into the box at the little strips and then turned the box over and dumped them out.
Four small, thin rectangles fell to the floor.  They were made of wood, and each had some kind of inscription in block letters…
“Winston?” said his mother.  “You didn’t do this?  Then who did?”
“I don’t know,” he said.  “I have no idea.”

Winston Breen is a twelve-year-old puzzle enthusiast.  So when he gives his little sister a trinket box for her birthday, and she discovers some mysterious wooden pieces inside its secret compartment, Winston is eager to try his hand at puzzling out their meaning. 

In very short order, however, the mystery grows beyond anything Winston imagined.  Shrieking librarians.  Mysterious strangers.  An old man’s will.  A long-lost treasure.  Three more sets of mystifying, lettered, wooden strips.  And that’s just for starters!  As the treasure hunt continues, sinister figures show their hands, ready to stop at nothing to get to the treasure first!

Eric Berlin, a puzzle creator to begin with, has written a sizzling mystery for 9-12 year olds, and incorporated one whopper of a puzzle for them to solve along with Winston, as well as about a dozen other clever puzzles in the course of the story.  The puzzles are varied, and great fun for any other puzzle aficionados like Winston.  Word puzzles, number puzzles, picture puzzles…they’re all here.  And, if you don’t want to solve them in the book, you can download and print out copies of your own.  Solutions to all the puzzles are in the book.

This is an excellent story in its own right, and the puzzles are the cherry on top!  I can imagine many kids in this age group really enjoying reading and puzzle-solving with Winston this summer.  A sequel is available as well.  Ready?  Sharpen your pencils, and…Go!

Here’s an Amazon link:The Puzzling World of Winston Breen