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The Lost Cipher

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  106 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Lucas's father has recently died in Afghanistan, and to help him cope, his grandmother sends him to Camp Kawani, a camp for kids who have lost a parent. While there, he hears about the local legend of Thomas Jefferson Beale. Beale supposedly hid a hoard of gold in the mountains 200 years before. The location is encrypted in a set of codes no one has ever been able to decip ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 1st 2016 by Albert Whitman Company
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3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  106 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
The Lost Cipher was a little bit of a disappointment. With a name like The Lost Cipher, I expected this book to be all about a treasure hunt, but most of the book is about a boy named Lucas who goes to a summer camp for kids who have lost a parent. He meets other kids there including Alex and George who have also lost parents as well as a bully named Zach. Lucas, Alex, and George leave their hiking group and get lost. When Alex gets hurt, they have to find and accept help from a grizzly old moun ...more
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am very excited for local Hillsborough author Mike Oeschle. He set out to write a great middle grades book for boys and did just that. This book has everything for his target audience - lots of action, middle grades humor, local color and a true to life unsolved mystery. The language of the boys is so authentic that I would bet that Oeschle made recordings in his school art classes! I hope he is working on book two.
Nov 19, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this take on the mystery cipher. Three young boys go on an adventure to find it. But it also deals with loss and friendship in ways that are understandable and relatable.

I thought the writing was excellent, and the plot moved along swiftly. I had no desire to try and skip pages when I was reading it, as I sometimes want to when reading middle grade novels.

Oechsle took a cool idea and made it accessible to younger readers, but he also invites older readers as well, allowing us all to
Mrs.  Larrew
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Love the ending- stick with it.
Raegan Angela Jones
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book made me hang on the edge of my seat!
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a great adventure story! This book will appeal to boys with its all male main characters, but I think girls who like action/adventure will enjoy it too. Very National Treasure!!
Betsy Crawford
Sep 22, 2018 rated it liked it
This book starts out fairly interesting but it drags out too long before the actual “action” begins with the boys in the wilderness! I gave up halfway through the book.
Becky B
Lucas just lost his soldier dad to a battle overseas. His grandparents decide it would be good for him to go to Camp Kawani, a couple mountains over, for kids dealing with such a loss. Lucas doesn't feel like going, especially no that Gramps signed away their mountain to the mining company, but go he must. He quickly finds friendship with two other boys, Alex and George, mostly due to all of them being the brunts for the bullying of another kid, Zach. While on a hike, the kids watch the camp cou ...more
Hazel Rainfall
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The sentence structure within this book is very complex, which I appreciate, though I do wonder if it is too complex for the target audience. That being said the plot was deep enough and clever enough to keep me reading. I recommended this book to my nephew, who is 10, and so far he has been enjoying it. Though he said it is hard fro him to understand, especially the beginning.
Jan 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Lucas, grieving a father killed in combat, spends a week at a camp in the mountains. The other campers are also dealing with the loss of a parent, and some kids deal with the grief in more abusive ways than others. The core of the plot, however, is a treasure hunt for an enormous hoard of gold and silver that has been hidden since the early 19th century. This part is rooted in reality: the Beale Ciphers do exist, and only the description of the buried treasure has been decoded.

The story itself
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! This book was written by my sons' art elementary teacher. It's about a young boy who loses his father and is invited to a camp in the Blue Ridge mountains for children who have lost a parent. Mr. O mixed in a little historical mystery about some buried treasure in the mountains that has never been found . . . Yet. The characters in this story were well developed and my boys thoroughly enjoyed the story as well as my husband and I. Definitely recommend it.
Kizzi Roberts
Apr 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lucas lives with his grandparents. Not by choice, though he does love their place on the mountain. After his Dad dies in Afghanistan, Lucas only has his grandparents and the mountain. But his grandparents are struggling, and despite his Dad's final wish, they will sell the mountain. Now packed off to a camp for a week with other children like himself, Lucas sees little hope of seeing his mountain again. But then he hears about the buried treasure. Is it just a legend or could Lucas be the one to ...more
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
I struggled a lot with the beginning of the book. It got much more interesting in the middle. It seemed like much of the beginning and the parts with the bully at the camp were filler. They made sense in the plot, but weren't necessary.
Teri Frankiewicz
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A terrific read! Adventure and parental loss combine to give this debut author a strong platform for a fine story. Set in the hard-scrabble life of Appalachia, the main protagonist, Lucas, has just lost his remaining parent to war and is sent (unwillingly) to a an outdoor camp for other children who have experienced similar loss. With two newfound friends, the trio fall into discovering the (real) legend of Thomas Jefferson Beale's Treasure. Overcoming a bullying fellow camper, an ancient hermit ...more
Rachel Stansel
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a great mystery and adventure story for middle grades to early teens. Lucas's father was killed in action in Afghanistan, and he lives with his grandparents on a mountain in a small town in WV where the family has long bed for generations. His grandmother sends him to Camp Kawani, a camp for kids who have lost a parent. He meets two boys who he begins to bind with. While there, they learn about the local legend of Thomas Jefferson Beale who supposedly buried a fortune in gold and silver. ...more
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This was a nice read that I think would have some appeal to kids who were going through a difficult time. More so than focusing on the loss each of the kids had, it talked about the benefits of being the in the wilderness and the differences between the boys. They never really had any major breakdowns, but I think there were some emotionally poignant moments.

The book got much faster for me once more information about the mystery of the hidden gold had a spot of predominance in the ploy. The boys
A great mystery book, set as an adventure, with feels through in for good measure.

Lucas gets sent to a camp for kids that have lost a parent. So everyone has this deep grief, and some act out and some just swallow it in. Lucas, who is from West Virginia knows that he is looked down on because he is considered a hick or a hill billy. George is fat. Alex is hispanic. The fourth kid is rich and a stereotyped brat.

And there is a treasure. A treasure that is a local legend, and more than anything, w
Alexa Hamilton
Mar 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: tween, ebook
I picked up this book because the blurb advertised a cipher and treasure hunt. And there is a cipher and some treasure hunting in this book. But mostly it's a very nicely written book about a boy named Lucas who is sent to a camp for children who have lost a parent. He meets some very different kids who have also lost parents in different ways. There is bullying, fighting, emotion and angst as you'd expect in this setting. Unfortunately, there's very little treasure hunting or code breaking. It ...more
Apr 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
A boy who has lost a parent... a camp for those suffering from grief... and a treasure that could save the day...

The Lost Cipher is one book that deals with a lot of life's issues. From grief and the loss of a parent to being judged by the way you look or where you are from, the beautifully written adventure reminds us that we can overcome anything if we believe we can. I enjoyed the fun diverse character from our main character Lucas to his new friends George and Alex. All of them had their own
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lucas Whitlatch spends a week at Camp Kawani, a camp for kids whose parent(s) have died. He learns about a buried treasure and during a camp hike, gets sidetracked into exploring a cave with two of his campmates. The lost treasure involves a real adventurer, Thomas Jefferson Beale, who supposedly buried gold, silver, and jewels in the mountains of Virginia. The fast-paced plot with numerous subplots with keep readers entertained. An author's note and the text of the ciphers at the end of the boo ...more
Syrie James
Apr 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent, fun, exciting, and emotionally-compelling middle-grade book. The story grabbed me from the first page. The mystery was fascinating--a lost treasure that was based on real life facts. The main character was compelling and most of the characters felt real to me. There was good humor in spots, moments that involved the emotions and made us care deeply about these boys, action was excellent and the book was well-written. Well done! Thank you to Netgalley for an advance look at ...more
Aug 27, 2016 rated it liked it
I wavered between 4 and 3 stars. Excellent book. The ending was a little too predictable, though, and that brought me down to 3. On the other hand, I don't know that much about this age group writing and may be expecting too much.
Characterizations and dialect are quite good, and I enjoyed other kids starting to talk like him rather than the other way around.
I say, write another one. This writer has potential.
Debbie Tanner
I thought this was a fun, fast paced read. The characters are interesting and likable. The situations are realistic and compelling. There are some interesting social issues (bullying, death of a parent, losses in war, development and displacement of poor people) that might connect with some kids.
Laura Phelps
Mar 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: possiblemsba2016
A gritty survival story that will appeal to fans of Hatchet. I felt that the main character, Lucas, was realistically rough around the edges, but his language and dialect might be too intense for some readers. At times the characters are one-dimensional, but the adventure angle keeps things exciting and will help pull in reluctant readers.
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
Well-developed characters, I found the story itself pretty boring. The ending was great, but the parts leading up to it weren't as interesting. Overall, this story just didn't entertain me and I wasn't reading as much, so say this story is 2 stars.
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Loved this book! Real and lovable characters, adventure, and satisfying ending. Definitely recommend to Tweens and up.
T.J. Burns
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Nov 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Great adventure about the Beale cipher - wished the language were less mature..
rated it it was amazing
Aug 10, 2016
rated it liked it
Jan 22, 2016
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