From Kirkus Reviews: THE SECRET OF THE SKELETON KEY:
This first of a series delivers a splendid story of four youths on a code-breaking spree.
Cody and her three buddies comprise an exclusive club revolving around studying and creating codes. It’s all in fun, but things amp up to intense when Cody and Quinn spy two lurking strangers at Mr. Skelton’s creepy old house. Adding depth to an already smart, fast-paced mystery, a resonant back story reveals that Cody’s parents have recently divorced and that her little sister is deaf. Readers are active participants in the momentum and are frequently invited to solve classic forms of code, such as Morse and semaphores. This intriguing tale has vivid characters and such a tantalizing cliffhanger that the readers won’t be able to resist cracking the next Code Busters.
Words cannot express how thankful Jackie and I are to the two of you – the Operation Code Buster program was a HUGE success! A number of parents came up to me at the end of the program to say how their kids seemed to have a great time (and I have to agree). From the code kits to the dossiers to the codes you taught them, I was so impressed with everything you did. Everyone told me how much fun they had with this program and how creative you to were. It was such a pleasure to work with you both and I hope we do more in the future!
~ Lucy Stirn, International Spy Museum
I wanted to take a moment to thank you on behalf of all of our 5th and 4th grade students and teachers for your Code Buster’s presentation. It was an outstanding program and I heard from many parents as well how much their children enjoyed your visit. I truly appreciate your love for writing and sharing your talent with others.
~ Shawn Wells, Principal, Bollinger Canyon Elementary School
The library thanks you for traveling here, providing a wonderful program with fabulous code buster kits, and truly entertaining the kids and their parents! I got a lot of compliments on your program; parents were very appreciative. Thanks again – I look forward to book #2!
~ Kelly Keefer, San Leandro Library
Thank you for the fabulous presentations and code packets for SO many students! We all loved it! My students were inspired by you, and many are writing their own mysteries! Hope to see you again!
~Tammy Gaylord, Burton Valley School
The GATE students had a great time decoding all the sentences. I especially liked that there was more than one code to crack. We have started our thank you notes to you. I know my principal was impressed, and he will be bringing up the possibility of another assembly.
~ Becky Rodriguez, GATE coordinator, Walt Disney School, San Ramo
Thank you so much for coming. It was great watching you with the kids and they enjoyed learning the codes. They were still talking about it the next day. I appreciate you taking the time to share your book and knowledge with them.
~ Katheirne Crawford, Math Specialist, Paden Elementary, Alameda
Thank you very much for coming to Greenbrook. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the evidence goodie bags, as well as hearing you read part of the Code Busters book. I also am so impressed that you took the time to fold code packets for over 115 kids! You truly went above and beyond and your efforts were appreciated!
~ Tara Hegarty, Greenbrook School, 4th grade teacher
Everyone enjoyed your presentation immensely, Penny! Thanks again for everything. Adam and I are looking forward to having you come back again next year.
~ Kirsten Woods, Seven Hills Schools
You were a huge hit! Thank you so much! Thank you again for an AWESOME presentation. The students loved it.
~ Lynn Gatehouse, Harvest Park Middle School, President and Program Director www.engagethegifted.org
From PuzzleNation Book Reviews!
I regularly get questions from fellow puzzlers who are looking for fun ways to get their kids into math, science, history, and other subjects. Sadly, I don’t always have the picture-perfect recommendation. That’s what makes stumbling upon a book tailor-made for encouraging both reading AND a love of puzzles such a delight. And if you’re looking for a gateway book for scavenger hunts or coded puzzles, look no further than The Code Busters Club series.
When there’s a puzzle to be unraveled or a code to be cracked, you can count on the crafty quartet known as the Code Busters. Friends Cody Jones, Quinn Kee, Luke LaVeau, and M.E. Esperanto are ready at a moment’s notice to put their code-cracking skills to the test. If you’re looking for a fun way to introduce coded puzzles to younger readers, you’d be hard-pressed to find a book that employs as many different styles. Warner has clearly done her research, employing everything from Morse code and semaphore to symbols, skip codes, Caesar ciphers, alphanumerics, and more. As a puzzler with plenty of experience with coded puzzles and cryptography, I was impressed by the breadth of codes and secret messages. With a brisk storytelling pace, this is a book about friends solving puzzles, and the puzzles are dynamite introductory-level puzzles for young readers. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for further Code Busters Club adventures.
Award-winning author, Penny Warner, loves presenting CODE BUSTER CLUB events to 3rd , 4th, and 5th graders and would be happy to visit your school! She begins the event by talking about mysteries that kids love and sharing tips on how she writes her mysteries. Then she gives out “secret packets” filled with plastic-coated codes, including Sign Language, Morse Code, Semaphore Code, Alpha-Numeric code, etc., and leads the students on code-busting activities.
The event is fun, interactive, and engaging for the students, as well as educational, since working with codes helps build language, reading, writing, math, and cognitive skills. The activity lasts anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on your schedule. She can do two classes at a time, or a large assembly.
Penny’s background includes a Bachelor's degree in Child Development and a Master's in Special Education. She’s been teaching Child Development courses at Diablo Valley College for over 30 years, and is the author of over 60 books, many on parenting and children's activities.
Penny does not charge for the event, but would appreciate it if you would pass out order forms to the students a few days before the event, and purchase some copies from the CODE BUSTERS CLUB series for the school library or to give to students are especially deserving. Schools can contact the publisher directly to buy the books, or purchase them from the author. (If the school is outside the San Francisco Bay Area, she asks for transportation and lodging to be covered.) She’s happy to send a copy of the first book in the series if you’d like to review it.
Below you’ll find comments by teachers, principals, and librarians, plus a teacher’s guide, and photos from her events. For more information or to arrange a visit, contact her at the address below, or her publisher, Lerner at 1(800)328-4929.
Read a sampling of letters from teachers, principals, librarians, students, and Kirkus
Pictures of Penny’s visits
to schools, libraries,
& the International Spy Museum!
Bring Penny Warner's
Code Busters Club
event to your School!