Dog Head Code by Maggi Andersen
Publisher: Wild Child Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (66 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia
After inheriting an old book containing a map from his Great Uncle Jake, Joe Jones travels to Dog Head Island, keen to find buried treasure. But in this isolated, inhospitable place, nothing is as it seems. Nothing, but the snakes that inhabited it. And Jake has a strong aversion to snakes!
Something more sinister than snakes is lurking on Dog Head Island.
When Joe inherits an old book from his great uncle, he has no idea that the adventure of a lifetime is waiting just around the corner. With the help of his mother, his friend Annie, and his teacher, Mr. Grant, Joe slowly begins to unravel the secrets of Dog Head Island. Will they uncover an ancient treasure or something else entirely?
Ms. Andersen put together a very interesting mystery. The code in the book was intriguing, and I liked the fact that Joe and Mr. Grant spent months trying to crack the code rather than somehow figuring it out instantly. Mr. Grant and Joe are smart, but they aren’t experts by any stretch of the word, so their slow but determined process was very believable. Once Joe and his friends arrive at Dog Head Island, the atmosphere definitely becomes creepy. The island is uninhabited, overgrown, and teaming with snakes. The remoteness of the island coupled with the strange things Joe sees and hears really add to the suspense of the story.
Joe is an easy character to like. He’s a very mature and caring young man. He’s thrilled at the prospect of cracking the code in the old book, but even more excited about the prospect of finding treasure. What is most touching about Joe’s desire to find a fortune is his concern for his mother. Joe and his mother have been on their own since his father died, and while they are doing okay, Joe wishes he could do more to help. Joe’s protective streak also comes out when he’s around Annie, a beautiful but lonely girl who is somewhat of an outcast at school. Joe’s friendship with Annie is sweet and definitely has the potential to develop into something romantic. Given their young age, I think their relationship moves at just the right speed. I can definitely see them as a couple when they are a little older.
While Joe demonstrates maturity beyond his fourteen years, he also has moments that prove he’s still a young teenager. In his determination to discover the secrets on Dog Head Island, Joe throws caution to the wind and gets himself into a couple of scrapes that nearly cost him his life. I eagerly flipped through the pages wondering how someone so young could possibly get out of such a precarious situation. However, Joe proved to be a very brave young man with all the makings of a hero.
I do wish Joe would have spent more time on Dog Head Island. It takes months for Joe, his mother, Mr. Grant, and Annie to get to the island. Once there, everything happens so quickly that it seemed like the tale was over just as I was sinking my teeth into the meat of the mystery. I think there’s so much more to explore concerning the code in the book and the secrets of Dog Head Island. I really wasn’t ready for the story to end.
I’m glad I had the opportunity to read Dog Head Code. It’s a quick and fun book that can be enjoyed by anyone who loves a good suspense. Do Joe and his friends find riches on Dog Head Island? There’s only one way to find out. Pick up a copy of Dog Head Code.