After author David Baldacci agreed to write a book in the popular “The 39 Clues” series for kids, he needed some basic information before he could begin creating the story.
Baldacci was used to writing for adults; he’s written 25 best-selling murder- and mayhem-filled thrillers that have sold more than 110 million copies worldwide. But “The 39 Clues” series, published by Scholastic, is aimed at readers ages 8-12.
“So I met with the Scholastic folks and said, ‘Let’s set forth some parameters,’” Baldacci said in a recent telephone interview. “I asked them, ‘Can I kill people?’ They said, ‘Yes, people have died in these books.’
“Then I asked, ‘Is there anybody I can’t kill?’ Their answer was, ‘Well, the brother and sister, Amy and Dan Cahill, are the mainstay of the series, and we’d like to see them survive.’
“So I said, ‘Can we maim them?’ By this time, I was just playing with them (the Scholastic editors). They looked a bit stunned and as if they wondered if I should be writing this book, before they realized what was going on.”
Baldacci was tapped by Scholastic to write the final book, “Day of Doom” ($12.99), in a six-book series, “Cahills vs. Vespers.” That series is a sequel to “The 39 Clues,” an 11-book series that has sold 15 million copies since it was launched in 2008.
Various authors have contributed to at least one of the series. A couple of authors — Peter Lerangis and Gordon Korman — have written more than one book.
In “Day of Doom,” Baldacci offers younger readers a taste of his talent for writing can’t-put-’em-down thrillers. Here, Amy and Dan Cahill learn that their efforts to ransom seven other members of their family from the evil Vespers clan haven’t worked.
Instead, it appears that Vesper One, the leader of the Vespers, will stop at nothing to take over the world, harming millions of people, including the hostages, along the way. Only Amy and Dan can stop Vesper One, but even they aren’t sure that it can be done before the Vespers set off the Doomsday machine.
Young readers will find themselves eagerly turning the pages of “Day of Doom” to find out what happens next.