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The shadow cipher
2017
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In an alternate history of New York, three kids try to solve a modern-world puzzle and complete a treasure hunt laid into the streets and buildings of the city. - (Baker & Taylor)

"It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before. Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher -- a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction. Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment house -- until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their likely destruction means the end of a dream long-held by the people of New York. And if Tess, Theo and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher isreal. Which means they have to solve it"--Jacket flap. - (Baker & Taylor)

A debut entry in an alternate-history series depicts three kids who try to solve a modern-world puzzle and complete a treasure hunt laid into the streets and buildings of New York City. By the National Book Award finalist author of Bone Gap. Simultaneous eBook. 50,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)

“The pleasures of the novel go far beyond the crackling, breathless plot and the satisfaction of watching the puzzle fall into place. The book is shot through with humor, both laugh-out-loud and subtle.” New York Times Book Review

From National Book Award finalist and Printz Award winner Laura Ruby comes an epic alternate history series about three kids who try to solve the greatest mystery of the modern world: a puzzle and treasure hunt laid into the very streets and buildings of New York City.

It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before.

Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher—a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction.

Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment—until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their likely destruction means the end of a dream long held by the people of New York.

And if Tess, Theo, and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. Which means they have to solve it.

"An epic mission to solve one of the greatest mysteries of their time. I loved this book. It is full of twists and turns" (from the Brightly.com review, which named York: The Shadow Cipher one of the best books of 2017).

- (HARPERCOLL)

Flap Cover Text

It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before. Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher—a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction. 

Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment—until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their  likely destruction means the end of a dream long held by the people of New York. And if Tess, Theo, and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. Which means they have to solve it.

From National Book Award finalist Laura Ruby comes a visionary epic set in a New York City at once familiar and wholly unexpected.

- (HARPERCOLL)

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Trade Reviews

Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Twins Tess and Theo live in one of the only remaining buildings designed by the Morningstarrs, visionary twins who built glittering structures in nineteenth-century New York, as well as the Cipher, a notorious, citywide puzzle leading to fantastic treasure. Now, in the twenty-first century, Tess and Theo's building has been purchased by a mercenary developer, but Tess grasps at a shred of hope: if they solve the Cipher, they might be able to keep their home. With robust, architectural world building, Ruby reveals an alternate New York teeming with mechanical marvels and compelling secrets. This New York still has some familiar features, however: a rich culture of diversity alongside insidious greed and wealth inequality. Tess and Theo, and their friend and neighbor Jaime, have distinct voices and idiosyncrasies that, though some might consider them odd, become marvelous strengths. As the trio traverse the city, they're often baffled by how easily clues fall into their hands, but Ruby slyly sidesteps those coincidences by giving the Cipher itself a mysterious, subtle sort of agency. In this smart, immersive series starter, Ruby expertly juggles stunning plot choreography, realistic stakes in a captivating fantasy setting, well-wrought characters, and flashes of sharp cultural commentary. It's a brainy romp with a worrying heart, and while many plot threads are resolved, Theo, Tess, and Jaime will surely, thankfully, be back for more. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 5–8—In an alternate present-day New York, three seventh graders embark on a citywide adventure as they attempt to solve a centuries-old cipher in order to save their home. In the mid-19th century, the Morningstarr twins, brilliant inventors who created steampunk-esque technology and iconic architecture that greatly influenced New York, disappeared, leaving a puzzle for the city, known as the Old York Cipher. They bequeathed a large sum of money to their employee, Ms. Ava Oneal, as well as the building that the modern-day Biedermann twins Theo and Tess, along with their friend Jaime Cruz, live in and are trying to save. Ava, an intelligent and mysterious woman, sets in motion the events leading up to the present day. Unsure whom to trust and facing dangers around every corner, Theo, Tess, and Jaime must solve the cipher if they want to save New York as they know it. Ruby's latest is a high-stakes mystery novel filled with intriguing puzzles, solid world-building, and diverse characters. The Morningstarrs were immigrants to America and funded projects that were beneficial to people of all backgrounds. The wealthy real estate developer who wants to evict people from the Morningstarr apartment buildings is an antithesis to the Morningstarr legacy, which the teens are trying to protect. VERDICT An engaging series opener that will leave readers eagerly awaiting future installments.—Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.

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