The Ambrose Deception

368p. Disney-Hyperion. Feb. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781484788387.
Gr 5–8—Melissa, Wilf, and Bondi—an enterprising money-maker, a slacker, and a smooth talker, respectively—are unlikely recipients of a mysterious scholarship offer, but that doesn't stop them from trying to win it anyway. They're given a driver, a cell phone, a debit card, a camera, and three clues, with the instruction that they are to tell no one what they're doing. The first kid to answer all three clues correctly wins a $10,000 scholarship. But as the chase progresses, the kids soon see that things aren't adding up. This realization forces them to work together, prove that they aren't slackers or criminals, and win a prize bigger than anything they've ever dreamed. This fast-paced story set in Chicago takes readers on a scavenger hunt to some of the city's most famous landmarks, with interesting trivia and history to accompany them. Ecton creates an eclectic and vivid cast of characters from varied backgrounds, lending authenticity to this Chicago-set tale. The addition of text messages, emails, and written notes provides a fun interlude between chapters.
VERDICT An appealing adventure story likely to be in high demand. A must-buy for all libraries serving middle graders, especially those in the Chicago area.

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