"A middle-grade adventure filled with mystery, friendship, and heart-- like a Da Vinci Code for kids." | 2018 INDIES Book of the Year (Juvenile Fiction) WINNER | 2018 SCBWI Spark Honor WINNER "for excellence in independent publishing for children."
"A bittersweet story ... of eternal optimism." --Publisher's Weekly
While living in Paris, Ellie Kerr's mom pens a series of children's stories, yet sadly dies before they could be published.
Once Ellie and her father return to the US, the twelve-year-old decides to finish what her mother could not. Yet when a mysterious password blocks Ellie from gaining access to her mother's computer, she becomes determined to find the truth -- even though four failed attempts will destroy the computer's data, including her mom's unpublished stories!
Ellie's father thinks that the code is unbreakable, but Ellie believes that her mother might have left a posthumous message in the new password. With the help of friends, Ellie tries to crack the code, publish the books, and ultimately honor her mother.
"A deeply moving story that belongs on any juvenile bookshelf." --Foreword Reviews "A reminder that inclusiveness and kindness can always defeat fear." --Kirkus Reviews
(From PW’s BookLife) "Aertker delivers a tender and moving novel about the days leading up to, and following, a loved one's death. The story evenly transitions between events in the present day and the painful recent past, while Aertker emphasizes the power of stories that are left behind after death. The author's prose is warmly suited to a middle-grade audience, with relatable and vulnerable first-person narration, authentic dialogue, and apt descriptions. Stories of youth grappling with the death of a parent aren't unique, but Aertker takes a fresh approach to exploring one girl's search for meaning through grief."
(From Goodreads) The Bookstore rated it 5 stars: "Paul takes a real turn in his writing here and I think it may be an important moment in his career. His detailing the death of the mother, how it went from 'everything is okay and it's a backache' to 'nothing is okay and your world is over/changed' was perfect. Plus, in an endless stream of stories aimed at this age group that focus on YOU FOUND A SECRET MAP IN THE ATTIC or THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH or SMILE or INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN or something fantastical as that, the deconstruction of the genre to something as simple as 'your mom's computer's password isn't what it should be and you can't ask her what it is' is a brilliant and bold move. Paul was already a great writer, but we're all anxious to see where this new direction takes him in general."
(From Goodreads) 5 Stars "A well written, interesting story involving a 12-year-old and her desire to publish the children's books written by her deceased mother. Ella describes the cancer, her friends and family, and her mother and their feelings. The story, while sad, is also full of love, hope and friendship. All the characters added to the depth of the story. Mr. Aertker did a great job with his vivid descriptions and the reader becomes involved in the life of Ella. This is a good story for all ages."
Friendship, perseverance, and the power of belief shine in this novel about a girl trying to stay connected to her late mother.
About the Author
As a traveler and multilingual teacher, Paul has clocked nearly half his life outside the US. When he was a teenager, he slept on the streets of London to watch a royal wedding. He took the CIA exam because he wanted to be a spy for the good guys (and not the "Good Company"). He was an au pair in France, created programs for the International Youth Foundation in Paraguay and Brazil, and with the Peace Corps, he built a children's library in West Africa.
Paul speaks and Skypes with middle schools all over the world. His most recent speeches were in Colorado and Louisiana and Skypes in Oregon, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Mexico, Nigeria, and Vietnam.