A Puzzling Wall is a Big Apple Mystery


While exploring their new apartment in Manhattan,  Brid, CJ, and Patrick Smithfork discover a puzzle - literally! - in the wall of their new home. The kids decide that it must be a puzzle to find a secret treasure and they throw themselves into the mystery. There is a treasure, but not the one they were seeking. 

BTSYA / Teen Reader (18):
The book leaves something to be desired, honestly. I decided to read it because the cover art was cool and kind of creepy, and the premise was cool. But the book only stayed interesting until about halfway through, and then it almost seemed repetitive. To me, the story was dragging itself out longer than it needed to be since almost all of the clues ended up being nearly the same thing.

If you aren't' familiar with New York City and its surrounding cities, reading this could be problematic.  The story definitely relies on the reader knowing popular New York landmarks and some obscure buildings. Those details affected my ability to read and fully comprehend the story. I can’t imagine what it would be like to read for someone who has less knowledge of New York City than me.

Although the book is marketed to readers 8-12, older readers (13-16) would probably get understand it better. Overall, I’m conflicted because there’s no serious subject matter that would require it to have a higher rating. It seems too advanced for someone as young as 8 to understand, especially with all the geographical knowledge required. If you’re going to read it I’d recommend borrowing it from the library. While it definitely wasn’t my cup of tea, it might be yours or your child’s.

Parent Perspective:
My reaction was very similar to our teen reader's thoughts. I actually stopped reading about halfway through. 

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Readers who like adventures and are well-versed in all things New York can get into this fun sibling mystery.

Content Awareness Factors:

About halfway through the story seems to get bogged down.

Type of Book:
This is a mystery with siblings as detectives
Educational Themes:

It could be fun to pull out a large atlas or travel guide for Manhattan and the surrounding areas. Photos of the sites described and being able to map how/where the children moved about could help some readers visualize the story. It's also good for learning map skills.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
11 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
10 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 18
Purchase Recommendation:
Borrow or skip. If you love all things Big Apple, you may like this book.

Title Walls Within Walls
Author Maureen Sherry
Publisher Katherine Tegen Books, Imprint HarperCollins Publishers © 2010
Illustrators Adam Stower
ISBN 9780061767005
Material Hard Cover
Cost $16.99
Genres Adventure, Family, Mystery
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