Caching In (2013), by Kristin Butcher

This review was first published in Resource Links Magazine, “Canada’s national journal devoted to the review and evaluation of Canadian English and French resources for children and young adults.” It appears in volume 19.4.

Orca publishers’ Currents series is a well conceived and executed enterprise, creating fast-paced, age-appropriate texts for teens who—for whatever reason—have problems engaging with reading. Kristin Butcher’s Caching In is another excellent addition to the series.

Eric and his clever and hyperactive (and I don’t mean that in any clinical sense) friend Chris have discovered geocaching, an activity that satisfies their need for intellectual challenge and for the freedom to break boundaries. When a set of geographical coordinates leads them to a wedding in a cemetery, they know that something strange is afoot. They are doubly sure when the cache contains no logbook to sign (a required item according to geocaching rules), but only a clue to a second cache. Even more mysterious is when the coordinates disappear from the online list later the same day. How can two teenaged boys resist?

The search for the final cache challenges the boys’ understanding of language in a New York Times-crossword sort of way, and they rise to the challenge. Local knowledge and having paid attention to current events help them to decipher the complex clues. The message is subtle: engagement in the world around you can be highly rewarding.

The boys bring complementary abilities to the quest: Chris (who doesn’t share Eric’s fear of heights) can climb out over a cliff-edge, while the smaller Eric can climb up one of the city lampposts. Despite their friendship and ability to work well together intellectually, a conflict of wills sometimes threatens the endeavour. This adrenalin-induced strive will be well recognized by most teen readers—especially boys. The conclusion is predictable, but the end result only solidifies the feeling of reward the readers will share with Eric and Chris, who have together succeeded where either alone would likely have failed. Being an adventurous teen has its advantages: “someone is actually going to reward [them] for doing what [they] like to do” (102), and “all [they] needed was a GPS” (3).

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