February 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Kid Sleuths Roam the Halls of New York Public Library

Fallon, 10, and John, 13, of Coxsackie, NY, were the big winners.

Fallon, 10, and John, 13, of Coxsackie, NY, were the big winners.

New York Public Library’s (NYPL) majestic Fifth Avenue Schwarzman Library became the setting of a scavenger hunt for kids on Sunday, November 13. The challenging game was in celebration of the launch of “The Devlin Quick Mysteries” series by debut middle grade author Linda Fairstein. Into The Lion’s Den (Dial, 2016), the first book in the series, introduces Devlin Quick, a girl sleuth whose mother happens to be the police commissioner of New York City. The landmark NYPL building is the backdrop for this homage to Nancy Drew. SLJ called it “A well-crafted and satisfying first volume in a new series. Ideal for bibliophiles and mystery fans alike.”

“I was thrilled when NYPL suggested that we do a scavenger hunt at the library to kick-off the series,” Fairstein told SLJ. The author is no stranger to sleuths or the Big Apple. Before becoming a writer, Fairstein had a career as a prosecutor in Manhattan for the country’s first Special Victims Unit. The TV series, Law and Order SVU, was based on Fairstein and her unit. She was also one of the subjects of Julie Scelfo’s Women Who Made New York (Seal, 2016). She is also the author of the 18 Alexandra Cooper mysteries for adults, featuring a female prosecutor who is often appears at iconic New York City locations.

With excitement, more than 30 aspiring detectives followed a 20-question list of clues created by the NYPL children’s librarians. The search had the kids roaming almost all the corridors and spaces of the library, discovering what animal body parts are incorporated into the candelabras (the answer: hooves and skulls) or which U.S. president opened the library in 1911 (William H. Taft). The hunt also led searchers to the Berger Forum, where photos and artifacts from the library’s massive collection were on the tables. Children had to examine the objects, such as menus, and answer questions, such as “What type of brains were served as an entrée at the Old Poodle Dog Restaurant in 1906?” (Calf, in case you were wondering.)


Participants examine the artifacts laid out in the Trustees Room.

The hunt ended in the library’s Trustees Room. Siblings John and Fallon Greenway, ages 13 and 10 from Coxsackie, NY, were quite impressed with their surroundings, especially the antique tapestries draped on the walls, and the imposing marble fireplace. The pair went on to win the hunt. Their mother, Keri Greenway, noted that a scavenger hunt is a great way to get new appreciation for a library. While the family had been to the library previously, they’d never ventured beyond the children’s room.

At the conclusion of the event, Fairstein told stories about the library. She revealed the location of a secret apartment, built long ago for a caretaker and his family, and that the archives contain all the original materials from both the “Nancy Drew” and “Hardy Boys” series. Also, she shared that the school librarian in her book is named after her own school librarian, who encouraged her to write.


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Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.



  1. FYI: The scavenger hunt took place on Saturday, November 12th.