Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin

Found: One sticky note containing the following message: "Tottally good/awesome! I really liked The Puzzling World of Winston Breen." Location: Attached to the cover of my copy of the book.

Allow me, for just a moment, a little soapbox standing. "Eh-hem. If you find a sticky note written by a child, similar to the one listed above, read the book. Thank the child repeatedly. Don't mention any spelling errors." Thank you.

Now as the book itself, here's my review: ""Tottally good/awesome! I really liked The Puzzling World of Winston Breen."

Winston is a kid who loves solving puzzles and sees them everywhere. Anagrams, patterns, numbers, word problems, pictures, you name it. Winston loves it. He finds them, solves them, and creates them. In the first chapter Winston gives his sister, Katie, a carved wooden box for her birthday. When Katie finds a hidden compartment containing four thin strips of wood with words on them, nobody believes that Winston, puzzle-man extraordinaire, isn’t behind it. Everyone thinks he planted them there.

He didn’t. He’s just as surprised as everyone else. The four wooden pieces end up being part of a larger set of sixteen. Put together, these sixteen pieces lead to a treasure left in the will of a very rich, local inventor. His four children could never work together, and the pieces eventually end up separated. Winston is drawn into the treasure hunt by the only remaining child, Violet Lewis, and two suspicious treasure hunters.

Each person owns four of the pieces. Each wants to find the treasure for different reasons. Two want the treasure. Violet Lewis wants to end her father’s mystery. Winston wants to solve the puzzle.

The book is filled with puzzles, and a website is given that contains all of them ready to print out, cut up, or write on. Some are answered within the story’s text, usually those that matter to the plot. Some puzzles are simply for the reader. Their solutions don’t matter to the story, only to Winston’s character development and the reader’s enjoyment. The only problem is that the story is so engaging, readers may find it difficult to stop reading to solve the puzzles!

Eric Berlin, a puzzle maker himself, has created a children’s book that will engage kids who enjoy puzzles and mysteries. Most readers will be able to solve a number of the puzzles and come away with the feeling that they helped Winston solve the biggest puzzle of his life.


  1. This sounds tottally awesome! :) I love puzzles and codes and things like that, like the 39 Clues. I'm so excited to try this out! Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  2. Thanks for stopping by the site, and I hope you like the book as much as I did. If you do, check out the sequel, The Potato Chip Puzzles. I haven't read it yet, so let me know if it is tottally awesome too.


    P.S. Annabeth Jackson. Hmmm... I think I need to finish reading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

  3. I love that you take advice from the kids! By showing you value their thoughts and feeling, you gain respect. Nicely done and thanks for sharing this title. I've not read it, but will need to look into it. :-)

    Annabeth Jackson...yes...a great series where my son can't wait for the movie and is reading The Real Thief for a SECOND time to get ready for it. It's honestly reminding me of the Harry Potter craze that hit several years ago. Bring on the love of reading!!!

  4. It's easy to take advice from kids since they usually have a pretty good idea of what kids like.

    I just got second Winston Breen book from the library, but I'm worried that come Monday, Newbery, Caldecott, and other award reading will keep me from it.

  5. You and me both! I'm hoping that I already have the winners so that I can keep my TBR pile from falling over. However, I'm always up for a new good read.

  6. It seems we are employing the same strategy: build up the TBR pile with unread Newbery and Caldecott possibilities and hope for the best. I'm also planning on having my Amazon account and public library account open and ready to go for the webcast.


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