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39 CLUES, Heir to Harry Potter?

By Jackie Burrell
Wednesday, June 25th, 2008 at 12:55 pm in Books.

"Maze of Bones" (Scholastic Press) Go on. Admit it. We’re all looking for the next “Harry Potter.” But Scholastic, HP’s U.S. publisher, thinks it may have actually found the heir, so to speak, to the wildly popular book series in a new multi-media book and game they’re launching in September. And Steven Spielberg seems to agree.

The 39 Clues” is a 10-volume mystery series about a powerful, ancient family — the Cahills — whose members include Napoleon, Benjamin Franklin and every major power figure of the last 500 years. (Hmm, sounds kinda Freemason-like, no?) Young Amy, age 14, and Dan Cahill, 11, are caught up in a desperate race to find the 39 clues — hidden across the ages and around the world, we’re told by Scholastic — that lead to ultimate power, before another branch of their family beats them to it.

What sets the books apart from all the other “no, no, this is the next Harry Potter” contenders is that the series is written by several high-profile authors, who will crank out a new volume every few months. The books come packaged with collector clue cards, and an online component turns the whole thing into a massive multi-player game with $100,000 in prizes.

Who’s wielding the pen(s)? Rick Riordan of “Lightning Thief” and “Sea of Monsters” fame penned the series opener, “The Maze of Bones” and sketched the story arc for the next nine books. The other authors include Gordon Korman, the author of “Swindle” and “Schooled,” for book 2, Peter Lerangis (Spy-X and Watcher series) for book 3, and Jude Watson (several “Star Wars” prequels) for book 4.

And now, there’s a movie too. Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks picked up the movie rights this morning.

Color us intrigued. The book hits store shelves Sept. 9.

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