The Puzzling World of Winston Breen
by Eric Berlin
G. P. Putnam’s Sons
ISBN 9780399246937
$16.99
Grades 4-7
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I have a problem. I’ve been trying to break this nasty habit, but when books like “The Puzzling World of Winston Breen” come along, they make it that much harder to put the kibosh on my troubling behavior pattern. Allow me to explain.

When I find a book that intrigues me, that compels me to keep going, I have a tendency to cut through all the extraneous stuff and skip ahead on the page to discover what the next turn of plot will be. I understand that I am cheating myself. On a couple rare occasions, I have skipped ahead many pages to the end of a book to preview how it’s all gonna end (sorry 1984!). Thankfully, I was able to curb my urge with this one and keep my wandering eyes on the same two page spread. It was a hard thing to do. This book contains mystery, thrills, and a treasure hunt that will keep you reading from beginning to end.

Speaking of habits, Winston Breen has a habit of his own: puzzles. Of course he solves them, but Win takes things a step further in that he also creates them. It’s not a stretch to say that his enjoyment of all things perplexing is on a higher level than most. The story begins as our protagonist locates a gift for his sister’s upcoming 10th birthday – a decorative wood box that Katie can use for whatever items in her life that need boxing. When Winston presents the gift to his sister, a secret compartment is discovered. The mysterious contents of this compartment activate Winston’s puzzle solving instincts, sending him on a treasure hunt that will draw a number of other questionable participants.

Sprinkled throughout the story are a number of smaller puzzles. Not closely tied to the plot, these little bits of conundrum further immerse the reader in the process of looking for clues to reach a solution. That aspect alone should let you know that the classroom possibilities of this story are immense.

“The Puzzling World of Winston Breen” is a book that readers will no doubt enjoy – I just hope that they are able to be more patient than I. A quality selection.

Also Reviewed By: A Fuse #8 Production, Big A little a, Jen Robinson’s Book Page