, Salem, MA


July 4, 2014

Book Notes: A new mystery for ages 9 and up

Oliver Truong is not your average Boy Scout.

He is short, overweight, asthmatic and allergic to campfires. He is also a celebrity at summer camp because he helped Moxie Fleece, the heroine of “Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking,” solve the mystery of the Gardner Museum art heist.

“He’s her best friend,” said Erin Dionne, who teaches writing at Montserrat College of Art and created both characters.

Ollie was a secondary figure in “Moxie,” Dionne’s last novel, but solves a mystery of his own in her new one, “Ollie and the Science of Treasure Hunting.”

“Rather than do a straight sequel where Moxie takes the lead, I thought it would be fun to focus on another character,” Dionne said.

“Ollie” is Dionne’s fifth book, all geared to readers age 9 and older, and it is the first one where the main character is a boy.

“I do a lot of pre-work, thinking about the character,” Dionne said. “Ollie was somebody I already knew, and it became more about being authentic, capturing the way the character would act.”

Ollie and his Boy Scout troop are on a 14-day wilderness trip to the Boston Harbor islands, where pirates once buried treasure.

“They used to stash it so that, if you were arrested, you could bribe an officer,” Dionne said. “For decades people have been finding stuff.”

The focus of Ollie’s adventure are some diamonds that, according to legend, were buried on one of the islands by Long Ben Avery.

Part of the story revolves around Ollie’s skill at geocaching, a game in which Global Positioning Technology is used to find things that have been hidden.

“Geocaching is basically modern treasure hunting,” Dionne said. “They used to do it with compasses.”

In an interesting twist, Ollie uses his skill at this game to deceive other treasure hunters, as much as to find hidden treasure.

“He’s not sure who he can trust,” Dionne said.

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