LONG LIST REVIEW: Codebusters

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When his mum gets a new job and he has to start a new school halfway through a term, 'nerdy. Jackson Hilbert decides it's time for the new cool him to emerge- Jax, who is good at sport, particularly football.  However, things don't go quite according to plan when, during the first lesson, he reveals his true maths ability and goes head-to-head with another pupil, Michelle, in a maths contest- 'it was like a sudden-death, penalty shoot-out for geeks.' As a result, he impresses neither the 'cool' crowd nor Michelle, who he defeats.

However, he finds a secret coded message in his pocket which, when he deciphers it, leads to Jax being invited to join a secret club whose mission is to crack codes and solve crimes- the Codebusters! When the Regional Mathematics Trophy goes missing from the school trophy cabinet, the Codebusters are faced with their first real case. 

Looking for something a bit different? Then look no further! 'Codebusters' is a short, achievable novel which is pacy and entertaining.

At its heart, 'Codebusters' is a story about friendship and being true to yourself. 'Jax' is desperate to be seen as 'cool' and sadly, like so many people, sees being good at football as the key to achieving this. As the story develops, the reader sees what he initially can't - that he has many valuable talents and that his new-found friends- quirky as they might seem to others- are the right friends for him- true friends.

Throughout the book are codes and puzzles for the reader to solve alongside the Codebusters. Dan Metcalf has included a 'Codebusters Bootcamp' at the end of the book to encourage budding cryptographers. The fact that the children attend Bletchley Grange School can't be a coincidence either! 

Brilliantly illustrated throughout by Gary Cherrington, 'Codebusters' would make an excellent read aloud to engage and enthuse children, offering plenty to discuss and enjoy along the way.

Codebuster     Dan Metcalf, illustrated by Gary Cherrington

Bloomsbury       ISBN: 978-1472943415