7 Riddles to Nowhere
Publication Date: August 9, 2016
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"With a fast-paced story and compelling characters, A.J. Cattapan's Seven Riddles to Nowhere inspires young readers not only to spend time reading, but also to believe in their own ability to make a difference in this world. Highly recommended for middle schoolers, and the grown ups who love them!"
--Lisa M. Hendey, author of the Chime Travelers series
"A.J. Cattapan has a knack for getting into the hearts and minds of middle-schoolers. Kids will be hooked from the first page (and parents tempted to read over their shoulders) as they follow an intrepid troop of friends on a quest to save their school. Seven Riddles to Nowhere has it all--action, cryptic clues, unique settings, and a hero every kid can root for."
--Stephanie Landsem, author of The Living Waters series
"Seven Riddles to Nowhere is a blast, taking the reader on an exciting tour of Chicago streets and churches, while characters gain insight into mysteries and symbols of our faith as they struggle to solve riddles. The tension and suspense mount right up to the very end."
--Theresa Linden, author of Roland West, Loner
"A fun and informative mystery for Catholic middle-schoolers or anyone who has eyed a Catholic church or cathedral and wondered about the meaning in its structural details and symbols."
--Cynthia T. Toney, author of the Bird Face series
"Seven Riddles to Nowhere will keep teens turning pages, even while they gain an appreciation for Church history, its rich symbolism, and the universality of the faith. Parents, beware! Your kids will want to stay up late finishing this book - and you might, too!"
--Stephanie Engelman, author of A Single Bead
SEVEN RIDDLES TO NOWHERE is a scavenger-hunt type mystery reminiscent of THE WESTING GAME, one of my favorite books for young readers. Like THE WESTING GAME, SEVEN RIDDLES is also set in Chicago, but with a Catholic spin. I enjoyed following the main character’s hunt through Chicago’s churches, some I’m familiar with and some that were new to me. But Kam’s emotional journey is just as engaging as his physical one. This book is sure to be a hit with middle-grade students, especially those who live in the Chicago area.
Seven Riddles to Nowhere is a wonderfully charming book, perfect for older elementary students and middle schoolers or for anyone who enjoys a beautifully written, hard-to-put-down story. The main character, Kam, who suffers from selective mutism, finds himself on a mission to save his beloved Catholic school from closing. This goal leads him on an adventure through Chicago deciphering riddles at beautiful churches, while avoiding the school’s bully along the way.
The characters of Kam and his supportive friends are so enjoyable that I couldn’t help but root for them as they made their way from church to church. Cattapan did an amazing job of not only bringing her characters to life but also describing Chicago in a way that the city practically became another character in the book. I also loved the element of the faith based riddles the kids had to solve.
This is a fantastic story of self-sacrifice, for the good of others, that delivers a beautiful message - kids can make a difference.
Here's a book that should be on the shelf of every Catholic elementary school library. I will be giving this book, a sort of National Treasure for parochial kids, to both my 13-year-old and my 8-year-old to read.
A.J. Cattapan keeps the story moving quickly as Kam and company try to be the first to solve the riddles that will give Kam enough cash to save their little Catholic school, which is slated for closure. In the process, they'll have to outwit competitors, including some bullies, navigate Chicago streets and public transportation, and use their knowledge of the Catholic faith to devise the correct answers.
The characters are unique and well-drawn, including the selectively mute Kam. Having been a bit awed by people who had electronic voice boxes when I was a kid, Kam's horror/fascination with Old Man Englebert was among my favorite parts of the story.
Throughout their adventure, Kam and his friends share both tenets of their faith and church history along with description of church architecture that made me long for a church tour of Chicago, which I learned actually exists!
Highly-recommended for middle-grade readers and younger children who are strong readers.
I finished this book in two days because I simply could not put it down. SEVEN RIDDLES TO NOWHERE is an engrossing and fun mystery novel filled with adventure and suspense. While it is a middle-grade novel, it contains universal elements that may appeal to a broader audience.
While SEVEN RIDDLES is a lighthearted novel sprinkled with humor and clever dialogue, it is also filled with heart. Its themes are far from shallow or trivial in scope and speak to the mission of young Catholics today. In fact, I could see this novel being read as a precursor to World Youth Day to get young people enthused about the event. It is both timeless and timely.
SEVEN RIDDLES TO NOWHERE is one of the most fun novels that I have read in a long time. I highly recommend it to both Catholics and non-Catholics, young people and those young at heart.