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Richmond library hosts children’s mystery writer

on October 20, 2011

Fans of children’s mystery writer Penny Warner will have a chance to get a signed copy of her new book The Code Busters Club: Secret of the Skeleton Key. Warner, a previous winner of both the Agatha and Anthony awards for Best Juvenile Mystery, will be at the main branch of the Richmond Library teaching kids how to create and decipher a variety of secret codes. She’ll also be adding a personalized message, but figuring out what it says will be impossible unless readers crack the secret code.

Publishers released Secret of the Skeleton Key just in time for Halloween. The cover depicts a creepy house and spooky cats.

“The book is not that scary,” she said. “It’s more about figuring out a message and what’s really going on at Skeleton Man’s house.”

Every chapter has a new code for the book characters and the reader to solve.

Children's mystery writer Penny Warner posed for book-cover design of The Code Busters Club: Secret of the Skeleton Key. (Photo courtesy of Penny Warner.)

“The book includes Morse Code, Sign Language, Braille, Semaphore Code, Alpha-Numeric Code, Caesar’s Cipher, etc.,” she said. “I thought it would be so fun to have it be interactive and not just reading.”

Warner got her start writing books about parenting. Her mystery-writing career has been woven between three decades of teaching child development and parenting. She currently teaches at Diablo Valley College.

“I really do know about kids, their interest and their developmental levels,” she said.

There’s no mystery around Warner’s main inspiration.

“I grew up reading Nancy Drew and love all her puzzles,” she said.

When she has a chance, Warner likes to read cozy mysteries, a sub genera of mystery writing characterized by the strong females characters and the deliberate avoidance of scenes describing violence. Readers can expect similar elements in Secret of the Skeleton Key.

“I like humor and I like to teach something with my mysteries,” she said. “Code busting builds language and math skills in a fun way.”

Join her at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 22 as she introduces Cody Jones and other members of the Code Busters Club.


  1. Penny Warner on October 23, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Thanks for the great article, Julia.
    I love Richmond Confidential!
    -Penny Warner

    • Robert Rogers on October 24, 2011 at 1:20 pm

      Thanks for reading and writing!

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