Thursday

Trackers by Patrick Carman - book review

I first applauded Patrick Carman for his unique concept book Skeleton Creek, where he tied 21st Century literacy to good old-fashioned storytelling. I am excited to say that Mr. Carman has done it again with Trackers, a cyber-mystery with gaming and internet components to complement the story of four tech-savvy teens thrown into a web of treachery. Adam, Finn, Emily and Lewis are cyber-sleuth teen geeks. Their goal? Solve local mysteries with their keen tech-skills. What seems a nice little community service adventure leads them into dangerous, and more global, circumstances.

The text structure of Trackers involves ringleader Adam being interrogated by a government agent, as he recounts the adventure in past tense. As with many first in a series books, the character development is minimal as we set the plot in motion. This editorial decision sometimes leads readers to want to learn more and invest in a continuing series, but can also throw those who need character development. However, as with Skeleton Creek, I suspect some reviews will miss the target audience and complain that Trackers is thin or that the computer enhancements detract from the telling.  I do not believe that this decision was unintentional.  If one reads Mr. Carman's fabulous Land of Elyon or Atherton stories, one can see that he does a fine job developing both character and story. The format of Trackers and Skeleton Creek, is an intended one and those of us who work with struggling readers love Mr. Carman for it.

Patrick Carman has created a new genre in story telling, allowing readers who might otherwise close a book before the second chapter access to the joys of reading.

Trackers is recommended for ages 9-12, male readers and especially striving readers in grades 5-8.