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The Secret of the Skeleton Key (The Code Busters Club #1)

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  97 ratings  ·  38 reviews

Cody, Quinn, Luke, and M.E. may be really different, but they all share one thing in common: they love playing around with codes. In fact, they love codes so much, they have their own private club, with a super-secret hideout and passwords that change every single day.

When Cody and Quinn notice what could be a code on the window of a nearby house, the one own
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by EgmontUSA
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Four friends make up the Code Busters Club--from different ethnic backgrounds, different living situations, etc. The club is based around learning and using different codes to communicate. This comes in handy when a mystery involving the elderly man across the street from Cody starts to unfold. Using sign language, semaphores, braille, and more, the Code Busters Club is on the case!

The mystery was decent, but what really made this fun was breaking the codes along with the characters. I found mys
Great book for kids that like to work out codes and secret messages. Each chapter starts with the title in finger spelling for the deaf and the story continues to include at least one other type of code or puzzle to figure out to move the story along. The mystery is interesting enough to keep you working on the puzzles (the codes are located in the back of the book and on a different page the solution is provide if you give up.) The mystery was interesting enough to keep the reader working out t ...more
Cody, Quinn, Luke and M.E. belong to a secret society they all developed together. They call themselves "The Code Busters Club." They each have a secret name and hiding place. They communicate with each other in many different types of codes including ASL, semaphores, morse code and many others.

In this book the club members become suspicious of the people visiting the old man who lives across the street. They have reason to believe the two visitors are not well-intentioned. When the house burns
Dec 19, 2012 Tara rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
Review originally posted

Look at the title. Look at me. Look at the title. Now look at me. Or whatever. JEEZ that was a terrible reference. What I was saying – the name of the book is The Code Busters Club. I am a Nancy Drew fangirl. I am a Veronica Mars fangirl. Of course I am attracted to any book involving code busting.

I LOVED the way Penny Warner made The Code Busters Club interactive for the reader. I may not be 8-12, but I sure did have fun flipping
Code Busters Club, The, Case 1 What a fun read! Do you love solving puzzles? Are you a fan of mystery? If so, this is the perfect series for you! The Secret of the Skeleton was a blast to read from beginning to end, and I'm not even the target audience.

Mr. Skelton, the "Skeleton Man" has a secret to hide, and the Code Busters club are going to uncover it.Cody, Quinn, Luke and M.E. bonded over the love of puzzles and codes. For Cody, whose whole life was turned upside down when her parents split
S Farneth
As a kid I couldn’t read enough Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. Make room on the shelf for the Code Busters Club. They are new and modern kid sleuths that get the job done.

The first book in the new series is a page turner (even for an adult). This series is sure to appeal to upper elementary students. The code busters have an elderly neighbor who writes a message on the window just before his house burns down. The kids in the club try to figure out his message which leads them to the burned out hous
Four young sleuths, Cody, Luke, Quinn, and M.E. love, love, LOVE to decipher codes and puzzles. So much so, that they form The Code Busters Club. They have a secret hideout, secret passwords, and secret languages. When the foursome see some mysterious activity at the 'Skeleton Man's' (aka Mr. Skelton) in their neighborhood, they are up to the challenge of figuring out what it is all about. He seems to be writing the kids some code in his upstairs window, just as two very questionable characters ...more
"If it hadn't been for those darned kids..."

Okay, wrong story, but same basic theme. In this one, Cody (Dakota) Jones and three of her friends have teamed up to help solve a crime.

(view spoiler)
The mystery in this book was great, and I think solving codes throughout will really appeal to kids. As an adult reader, it seemed like the author was attempting too many audiences: kids were from every race/background, one was shy and nervous, one was very athletic, there was a divorced kid, etc. I'm planning to read the second to see if some of that background "look I'm just like you" is left out.
Excellent writing and smart plot web make this a must-have for young mystery fans. A strong, savvy girl and two neat boys are modern and delightfully well-grounded characters. Throw in Morse code plot lines and instruction, and you have a timeless spy classic. This is a worthy successor to Encyclopedia Brown for 2nd - 4th grade readers.

Booklegger 4/5
Book #70 Read in 2012
The Code Busters Club by Penny Warner (YA)

This is the first in a mystery series. Four young adults form a club where they pass secret messages written in code back and forth. Their neighbor, whom they call Skeleton Man, is taken to the hospital after his house catches fire. But was it an accidental fire or set by his newly arrived family members? The kids decide to investigate.

This book was a good mystery and used the codes in an interesting way to move the plot along. I co
I received this book as part of a giveaway from Goodreads in exchange for this review. As a child I loved the Trixie Beldin mysteries--this series will bring to this generation of middle school students a whole new group of young crime solvers to follow. I found the characters more like caricatures, especially with the criminals, but I think this clear sense of good and bad will appeal to tweens. I especially liked the various codes scattered throughout the book. Just as the tension begins to bu ...more
I won this book in a giveaway. I read this book to my daughter who is 6. It was a little advanced for her but she had a lot of fun working out all the codes. This was a great book.
Cody, Quinn, Luke and M.E. like codes. They like codes so much they formed a Code Buster club and only write to each other in code. One day they notice two strangers snooping around the house of Skeleton Man, their old neighbor who never leaves the house. Then they see a code written on the dust of a window in Skeleton Man's house. So when the house catches on fire the Code Buster Club suspects this was no accident. They need to figure out what Skeleton Man was trying to tell them and who these ...more
Bought this for my grand nephew and loved it. Penny offers so many additional fun things if you sign up on her webpages.
Elizabeth S
Pros: The basic plot is okay and realistic. But the biggest pro of the book is The Codes. Lots of them, and quite a variety of kinds. Whenever there is a coded message, you see the club work through how to solve it, but you don't get the answer in the main text. Instead, there are some pages in the back. Nice way to let readers do the decoding themselves if they want to.

Cons: The kids seem to be running from one secret message to another, with very little plot in between. No depth to the plot o
Ann Haefele
Kids will enjoy this mystery as there are many codes to figure out ( at least one per chapter). Answers are in the back for those who do not want to take the time to solve the codes. This is the first in a series that features 4 middle school children who join forces to solve mysteries and have great interest in writing and solving classic forms of code such as Braille, Morse, semaphores, alphanumeric, finger spelling etc. It was a fun read. I have already had one boy read it who is disappointed ...more
Edward Sullivan
Kids using codes to solve a mystery.
The Secret of the Skeleton Key is a great book, and is filled with fun codes to solve! Kids will love figuring out what the secret messages say (I say kids because I'm a teen and probably not the target audience for this). The characters are very smart, likable, and well-developed characters, and I'm sure many people will look forward to reading the next books in the Code Busters Club series.

Note: I received this book as an ARC from the author through Goodreads' First Reads.
Apr 26, 2013 Annie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Grade 3-5
This was an excellent chapter book that I think would be enjoyed by both boys and girls. The book is one of a series, which is something that is fun to get kids into. The book is an interactive mystery that offers codes for the reader to decode. This book uses Morse code, sign language and Consonant code There are answers in the book in case the reader gets stuck which is nice too.
I think that this book would really engulf the reader as they work to solve "mysteries."
Good story, characters and GREAT reader interaction !!! Teaching codes and decoding is so important for learning skills - this could be used in the classroom ! This is such a good good book for so many reasons. And so much fun !! My 30 year old son saw this and snagged it from me. He read it and said he'd have loved this series as a kid!
He's going to read them to his kids when the time comes. Just can't say enough good things about this. Penny Warner is superb.
Shelley Giusti
What a fun read! A great book to get children reading!
What would you do if you found out an old man was stalking you from his house? Exactly what Cody and her friends do. When they see and old man, and with his fingerprints he smears a sign into the window, the kids want to know what he means. When they crack the imposed threat code, they discover things that they weren't expecting, that take them on a wild journey. If you like Nancy drew or hardy boys, you'll love this book.
I won & received this book free through

My 9-yr old daughter loves this book so far---but she starts school today and will probably be even slower at reading it--- so I will probably read it for review, then update afterwards from her ;)

I read it really quickly and it is a great book--- The codes that you have to figure out give it a really neat twist to it. My daughter loves it so far.
Ms. Yingling
Even my 6th graders want murder mysteries more than clue oriented ones. Sigh. I was a big Encyclopedia Brown fan, so I liked this, but it just wouldn't get checked out at my library.
I got this as a Goodreads Giveway and it is now my new favorite gift for 8-12 year olds! Very good story that makes the reader investigate as they go. The chapter titles are in sign language! - How fun! They also sent me the great code buster cards that just added another enjoyable dimension to the book. For that reader that just needs a little more challenge - in a fun way - this is the perfect book!
I won this in a Firstreads drawing from goodreads.

A superior kids' mystery about a club of cryptographers in Berkely, CA. Something odd is going on at the houseof a recluse who lives across the street from one of the members. It turns into a good old fashioned mystery, with a code to break in every chapter.

Reminded me of Lincoln Peirce's Big Nate series in some ways.
F.T. Bradley
Oh, this book was such fun! Perfect for your younger middle-grade reader, ages 7-11, I would say, and equally appealing for boys and girls.

The writing is tight, the characters fun, the mystery solid. I'll be checking out the rest of the series. I saw that the second book won the Agatha this year--no surprise there.
F.T. Bradley
Oh, this book was such fun! Perfect for your younger middle-grade reader, ages 7-11, I would say, and equally appealing for boys and girls. The writing is tight, the characters fun, the mystery solid.

I'll be checking out the rest of the series. I saw that the second book won the Agatha this year--no surprise there.
This book was very interesting because, there is codes and many puzzles including. And the story was good too. And I think it will get more interesting as it adds more detailed thoughts.
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Penny Warner is an award-winning author of over sixty books, including DEAD BODY LANGUAGE mystery series (Macavity winner), HOW TO HOST A KILLER PARTY series, and the upcoming Food Festival series. Her middle-grade mystery, THE CODE BUSTERS CLUB, won the Agatha Award for Best Children's Mystery.

More about Penny Warner...
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