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Mystery series hook students

Amy and Dan Cahill may not exactly be the heirs apparent to the void left by Harry Potter and company in the collective imaginations of children, but they aren’t doing too badly either.

mumbai Updated: Nov 29, 2010 01:42 IST
Bhavya Dore

Amy and Dan Cahill may not exactly be the heirs apparent to the void left by Harry Potter and company in the collective imaginations of children, but they aren’t doing too badly either.

The young protagonists of the new children’s series, The 39 Clues, currently making inroads into the bookshelves of the city’s children, are a pair of siblings on the hunt for clues scattered around the world as part of a challenge mentioned in their grandmother’s will.

The books have a steady following among city students. “Every book is in a different location and has a good range of characters,” said Aryaman Jal, 13. “Each of the endings is unpredictable. Everyone is waiting for the next three or four books to come out.”

It’s not just The 39 Clues that children are currently lapping up. Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl and the Anthony Horowitz books have been equally well received. “After children read books like these they are used to the pace, the language, the slickness of it all and then they find it difficult to read the older books such as Treasure Island or books by Gerald Durrell,” said Sonya Dutta Choudhury, who runs a children’s book club. “The new set of books are fascinating in many ways, I just wish they would read the older books as well.”

A different author has written each of the books in The 39 Clues series, with 11 being released so far. The first book was written by Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series, and one of the main hooks for several children to start off reading The 39 Clues.

“I saw that Rick Riordan, had written the first book, so that’s how I first picked it up,” said Aleya Dutta Choudhury, 11. “Then I continued on to read three more books in the series. You’re on the brink of finding out something and then something else happens.”

A lot has been happening on the sidelines as well. The series has spawned a pack of cards, a website and online gaming component.

“There are many things going for the series,” said a spokesperson for Scholastic India, that has published the series. “The subject is adventure and mystery, with lots of puzzles for kids to solve, the characters journey around the world, and there are online games for kids to join in the adventure.”

Bookstores have been doing good sales on the book. It’s second in its category after the Percy Jackson series, said a spokesperson for Crossword. “The adventure series in the children’s category, in which this series falls, has shown a growth over the past year.”

The first book came out in 2008, the most recent one in August this year. A spate of ancillaries has followed, and now, a movie by Steven Spielberg is also in the pipeline.

Children say they aren’t going to be spending sleepless nights in queues outside book stores, but they are nonetheless looking forward to the next book in the series. Scholastic says there will be a “bridge novel” in May followed by the second leg of the series coming out in mid-2011.

“I’m not as anxious about when the next book is out as I was with the Harry Potter series,” said Paritosh Kanoria, 13. “But I’m definitely looking forward to it.”