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Brian Wells
The League and the Lantern
Brian Wells, author

Children/Young Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

Twelve–year old Jake Herndon’s school sleepover at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry takes a shocking turn when a dangerous organization invades. He escapes along with two classmates only to be thrust on a forty-eight-hour fight for survival on the streets of Chicago, uncovering a mystery dating back to the Civil War and an incredible secret about Jake’s family. Full of unexpected twists and mind-bending revelations, it’s Percy Jackson meets National Treasure with a good dose of humor and heart.

Semi Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 10.00 out of 10


You couldn’t ask for a more appealing trio of middle-school misfit heroes: insecure motormouth Jake; TJ (the T is for Thelonious), a geeky fencer with hyper memory; and multilingual Lucy, adept at Budokai-do. During their orientation sleepover at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, the three stumble onto a robbery with world-shattering potential. The author, a master of the cliffhanger chapter break, describes the kids’ ingenious derring-do so vividly, it’s like watching the movie version that surely deserves to follow.

Date Submitted: June 11, 2016

A sleepover at the museum turns into a no-holds-barred adventure when incoming seventh grader Jake Herndon winds up in the middle of a bizarre assault upon Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry during a school sleepover. He and his new friends, geeky TJ McDonald and know-it-all Lucy Garcia, quickly find themselves on the run from a ruthless organization determined to capture them for unknown reasons. Their only hope is to track down Jake’s uncle Gabe, who has secrets of his own. Jake learns that they are caught between two secret groups whose origins date back to the Civil War, one seeking to preserve the Union, the other to destroy it, and he somehow holds the key to success. In this strong debut, Wells offers up a fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping thriller, skillfully blending action, humor, and historical trivia. The three heroes have good chemistry, even if their dynamic is somewhat familiar. While some aspects of the story, such as the level of technology involved, push into SF territory, the overall sense of wonder and excitement makes this an entertaining read. Ages 8–12. (BookLife)