Sunday, March 22, 2015

Book Scavenger Treasure Hunt

I'm home on spring break for ten whole days of glorious Colorado sunshine, grandbaby-cuddling, dog-walking, cat-brushing, and catching up with as many dear friends as possible, including get-togethers with both of my writing groups: breakfast with my old group of twenty-plus years, dinner with the new group I joined this past fall.

The new writing group is consumed these days with celebration for the June 2 publication date of the debut novel Book Scavenger by one of our members, Jennifer Chambliss Bertman.
The book is amazing. Here's the review of it I posed on Goodreads after reading the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy): How I adored this book! It’s a page-turning thriller, a valentine to the storied city of San Francisco, an exploration of the nature of friendship and family, a feast for puzzle aficionados and code breakers, and a celebration of the community of book lovers everywhere. The reader’s only regret is going to be that the Book Scavenger game Bertmann has created doesn’t exist in real life, so that we could join Emily and James in playing it. Bertmann’s debut novel establishes her as a major new voice in middle grade fiction. Prediction: Book Scavenger will become a beloved classic in the mode of The Westing Game and The Egypt Game. It’s off the charts wonderful.

The book is based around the idea of a fictitious game where players hide copies of books all over the country and the world for other book-lovers to find, via cryptic clues posted on the Book Scavengers website. And the game now does exist on real life, thanks to Jen's website, with copies of the ARC hidden in all fifty states. And our writing group is playing the game ourselves, hiding copies of Jenn's book all over Boulder for each other to find.

Yesterday I got the clue from Laura to send me off to find mine. The clue said:  

It is hidden! Start at Viele Lake. Take a walk to the southern part of the lake, until you get to the fitness sign about the heel flex. Turn your back to that sign. Then try to decode my cipher.

The cipher read: uxmpxxg uxgvaxl, ngwxk kfvd 

So this morning before church I walked down to Viele Lake:

I followed the fitness trail around the lake until I reached the sign:
I turned around as directed and looked behind trees and rocks, hoping I could find it without having to wrestle with decoding the message, as I'm completely terrible at cyphers and codes. No luck. But fortunately, my church has a VERY brainy congregation. Upon arriving I handed the cypher to two of the most brilliant members; both solved it during the sermon. I won't give the solution here in case you want to try to decode it yourselves.

I headed back to the lake after worship. This time I found the correct spot.
The picture is pretty dark and terrible, because I'm a challenged photographer, but let the poor quality just add to the mystery.

I found the rock beneath which the book was supposed to be hidden:
And there it was!
Now it's my turn to hide it for Vanessa. I hope she's better at code-breaking than I am, or that she has similarly brainy friends.

Verdict on spring break so far: tons of fun.



  1. When I explained this code to my daughter, she said "Oh, yeah! Fancy Nancy used a code like that in Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth.".

    1. I should have let Josie solve it!