Title: 7 Riddles to Nowhere
Publisher: Vinspire Publishing
Age Range: 11 – 14
Young readers in this age group love riddles and puzzles. And Amy Cattapan has brilliantly used riddles and puzzles to engage readers in this entertaining and interesting story about 12-year-old Kam who has to solve seven riddles in order to save his school!
A.J. Cattapan is a Catholic educator who has written a story that will have instant appeal to this age group. Kam is struggling. He’s been rendered mute since the sudden death of his father. We quickly learn that Kam can speak freely at home or with his close friends. But otherwise, he just can’t get his words out. He’s found a circle of friends and teachers who care about him at St Jude’s. But now – the school is threatened with closure. Oh no!
The race is on to claim a fortune that has been promised to the student who can solve 7 riddles and find the treasure. Kam plans to claim that prize and donate the treasure to save his school from closing. As readers, we are quickly turning the pages and hoping that Kam and his friends can solve the riddles. What a clever way to drive the story forward. And to make this story even more brilliant – A.J. Cattapan has the children rushing into famous Cathedrals to search for clues. Children will learn about the stories, symbols and artworks of several prominent Cathedrals in Chicago USA as they read the story. I love this idea!
This is my favourite style of Catholic children’s book – instead of being preachy or dry, children are learning about the stations of the cross, the mysteries of the rosary, Catholic symbols, as well as the names of different sections of a church. The children in this story learn to search the stained-glass windows and statues looking for clues or answers to the riddles. The history and social significance of the Cathedrals is also highlighted. Amy Cattapan conducted extensive research in order to produce this book and it really shows!
Teachers who write stories for children and young people always seem to portray the social relationships between kids in an authentic way. A.J. Cattapan is no exception – the young people in this story are identifiable, life like and believable. She has expertly pitched this story to the age group intended. By story’s end, we are cheering for Kam and savouring his victory.
I’d love to see dozens more stories written for children and teens that weave their adventures around churches and parish life. If anyone reading this review has ever wondered if they can write a Catholic children’s story – do it now! Now is the time! Why not purchase A.J.Cattapan’s 7 Riddles to Nowhere and gift it to a child or young person in your life.
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Teacher and Homeschool Ideas.
- I would be inclined to read this story with children and young people and to pause along the way to explain some of the symbols and artworks that the children encounter. Depending on their age and ability, I’d ask the children to create a glossary of terms – either drawing or describing in words what each symbol or artwork or clue is about.
- I think a trip to the local Cathedrals in your own area would be in order. Why not do some research online to learn about the history and meaning behind the Cathedral’s name, artworks or architectural style? You might be lucky enough to find a Cathedral that has guided tours.
- Kam discovers that the treasure is “Us”. Have your children list out the special talents and abilities of the people in your family, class, school or parish. Make up a huge poster or artwork or webpage that lists out each student of members of your parish, with a short description of that person’s unique talents and abilities. What makes this person a treasure to us?
- Some children may want to explore ‘mutism’. Some good resources here on Selective Mutism Australia page: https://www.facebook.com/SelectiveMutismAustralia/