If you’re a fan of Jennifer Chambliss Bertman’s “Book Scavenger” series or James Ponti’s “TOAST” series, there’s a new group of puzzle-solving kids known as GEEKs. First children’s author TP Jagger introduces us to lifelong best friends Gina, Edgar, Elena and Kevin, who are off to solve a mystery and save their town. Sounds simple, right?
“Hide and GEEK” explores the issues of the town of Elmwood, once the home of famed toymaker Maxine Van Houten and her Bamboozler puzzle sphere. However, the once prosperous town has fallen on hard times since Maxine’s death. It seems his promise of wealth to take care of the town never materialized, his heirs sold the patent and the factory is about to close. This would directly affect each of the characters’ families, likely causing them all to drift apart. That would mean the end of the GEEKs.
This group of friends is as different as night and day, but also as similar as two peas in a pod. Gina is an aspiring journalist, always searching for the next big story and writing facts and observations. Edgar is an aspiring actor, prone to quoting Shakespeare, and also the hardworking son of a dairy farmer. Elena is a science geek who loves to prank, usually explosive or bubbly in nature. Finally, Kevin is a math whiz who has always been class president but faces his first challenger for the sixth-grade office. He takes this threat seriously and doesn’t like being out of the spotlight. Their nemesis, Sophina Burkhart, is running for class president and uses treats from her family’s bakery as a bribe. Kevin won’t take this threat lightly and the group has a new mission to focus on. Plans are made to meet at their secret hideout, and they each go on different errands. This is when plans take a major turn and it becomes the adventure of a lifetime.
On the way home, Gina observes a tall, thin stranger in a gray suit leaving the city attorney’s office with an envelope and a set of keys. Although she does not follow him, she cannot forget him either. Later on the way to their hideout, Gina sees the man again and thinks he is following her, but he has disappeared. At the meeting, she explains what she saw and who she thinks is the mystery man. While not everyone seems intrigued, their minds quickly change when Sauce, Gina’s dog, runs off after a noise in the woods. When they finally catch him, they find themselves in front of Van Houten’s abandoned house. However, there is a light on upstairs! While they argue about their next step, Sauce leaves and finds a way in and can be heard barking upstairs. Finding the door unlocked, they enter and begin to search for the dog and the man in the gray suit. What they find is a secret room, the Last Heir, and a riddle hunt that could save their town.
Now that the adventure is really beginning, do they trust this stranger who calls himself Maxwell Van Houten? Do they have enough time and intelligence to figure out the clues? Can they avoid fighting each other to arrive at the final answer? It is a real test of friendship because it cannot be completed by one person. Along the way, they will learn a lot about others and themselves, as well as the history of Elmwood. Follow them as they make brilliant breakthroughs and terrifying mistakes on their way to an ending that will remind you of “National Treasure”. Who comes out stronger and wiser and maybe even more humble when the dust settles? Check out TP Jagger’s “Hide and GEEK” and settle in for an adventure you won’t soon forget.
Donna Loehner is the Children’s Programming Associate at Missouri River Regional Library.