Do you like puzzles, mysteries and adventure? If you do, this book is something you should read!
Hidden in Plain Sight by Su-Lin Ang
The Lee cousins love Kong Kong's (Grandfather's) story of the family treasure but none of them (except the youngest two) think it is a true story, until they accidentally dislodge a chinese puzzle hidden in an heirloom (an old chinese sofa). The cousins suddenly finds themselves in an exciting treasure hunt trying to break down codes and ciphers to solve the mystery of the puzzle which may lead to the treasure.
Set in Malaysia and Singapore of the 1960s, this book is addictive! As a child I love solving puzzles and reading storybooks about mysteries and adventures such as Nancy Drew! This book is the right mix of all these.
The book also touched on cousin bonding, Hence, there was a couple of nights, I dreamt about my own cousins of whom we have gradually lost touch since we grew up.
Recently, I have also developed a love of local historic places. What I like best is the book is being set in Singapore, so a lot of landmarks, language and games mentioned in the book are familiar even though it is a pre-independence period.
This book is the second runner up in Scholastic Asian Book Award in 2012. This award is a search for new Asian children stories that is written in English. Although it is an award started in 2011, I find the works of these authors rather substantial. I have read three books who were shortlisted for the award so far and this being my favorite due to the fact that I love puzzles and this story developed is set in Singapore. I wish there would be part 2.
Activity: Landmark hunt
This book is suitable for upper primary students. Before reading the book, bring them to the Singapore River near Victoria Memorial Hall to do a mini landmark hunt. The following clues was being given in the book. Tell them to find the place that has a bridge, a lantern, a circle within a circle and a big X going through both of them, a lion and 3 crescent, a river, a cow with a cross over it and a horse with a cross over it.
The answer to the above question is :
|Bridge, river, circle within circle with a big cross through both of them on the railings, checked.|
|The symbol a cow with a cross over it and a horse with a cross over it implies cattles and horses prohibited|
|Finally, a lantern and a lion with 3 crescents (look at the coat of arms)|
This place would give you another clue to do a number cipher. If you are expert in decoding, copy down the 8 lines of numbers on page 93 of the book and see whether you could decipher the code to the next location which is nearby. I do not want to spoil your joy by giving out all the answers.
After the reading the whole book, you can bring your family to the Singapore river once again to retrace the steps Jen and her cousins had took when deciphering the codes. It would be good to take a walk around the river, reading the signs and plaques around Singapore River and most of all, enjoy the company of your family in this wonderful place.