Captain’s Log: Journey Through Space Week 6

Hello team! This is Captain Julye reporting in from the Delphina. I arrived at another stop on my trip today, the planet Ceres. The people here love agriculture. I could see their fields even from the sky! But, they wouldn’t let me land until I told them the coded phrase below. Luckily, I’m an expert code cracker and successfully cracked their code. They were much friendlier once I’d told them the password. They even let me in to explore their beloved gardens! 

Cryptography

I know that code cracking isn’t always easy, so I’ve included some information in this report about code cracking, otherwise known as cryptography.

Cryptography is the science used to try and keep information, like passwords, secret. Modern cryptography is a mix of math, computer science, and engineering. It’s used in bank cards, computer passwords, and more. Messages sent using cryptography are encrypted. When you change text to be encrypted, you’re actually using a cipher. To decrypt it, or change it back, the person who receives the message must know the cipher. If they don’t, it stays secret! 

There are different kinds of cipher methods that vary in complexity. A cipher method is a pattern that encrypts messages. Different messages can be sent using the same cipher if a different pattern is used. The pattern specific to one message is called a key. For example, the Caesar cipher is a cipher method that uses the alphabet. So, it can only have as many different keys as there are letters in the alphabet. 

If you want to practice your code cracking skills, there is a fun game you can play on National Geographic. Crack the Code uses a Caesar cipher to hide words about their adventure series, “Explorer Academy.” Explorer Academy features kids just like you learning to be great adventurers. They do things like rock climbing and scuba diving! But maybe, stick to code cracking for now, unless an adult is around. They also have simple paper ciphers that help you make your own codes. Explore and have fun!

Play here! https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explorer-academy/games/crack-the-code/

Crypto-books

Looking for books about code cracking? Here are some available from the library:

  • Endgame by James Frey 
  • The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan and others!
  • The Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss 
  • How to Keep a Secret: Writing and Talking in Code by Elizabeth James & Carol Barkin; illustrations by Joel Schick
  • Codemaster: How to write and decode secret messages by Marvin Miller
  • Lu and Clancy’s Secret Codes by Adrienne Mason; illustrations by Pat Cupples 
  • Ultra hush-hush: Espionage and Special Missions by Stephen Shapiro and Tina Forrester; art by David Craig
  • Thea Stilton and the Dragon’s code; illustrations by Fabio Bono et. al.
  • Ada Lovelace Cracks the Code by Corinne Purtill; illustrations by Marina Muun
  • The Once and Future Geek by Marianne Mancussi 
  • The Secret of the Puzzle Box by Penny Warner (The Codebusters Club)
  • The Secret Cipher by Whitaker Ringwald
Psst! This book by Marvin Miller looks so fun!

Still not satisfied? These books all about ciphers aren’t available at our library yet, but will be soon!

  • A Box of Bones by Marina Cohen 
  • Samuel Morse, That’s Who! By Tracy Nelson Maruer; illustrated by El Primo Ramon 
  • Can You Crack the Code? By Ella Schwartza and illustrated by Lily Williams 
  • Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: A Navajo Code Talker’s Story by Joseph Bruchac 
  • The Manga Guide to Cryptography by Masaaki Mitani and Shinichi Sato
  • The Blackthorn Keys by Kevin Sands
  • Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret by Truidi Trueit

Captain Julye’s Personal Favourites

Younger Readers

Thea Stilton and the Dragon’s Code

I used to read sooooo many Thea Stilton books. I loved the fun mystery style and the cool confidence of Thea. I know she’s a mouse, but she’s still a good role model! Whether this is your first Stilton read or your 21st, it’s still a good adventure! Pay attention to secret clues and ciphers.

Here’s the Summary: “When Geronimo’s sister, Thea, is invited to teach a journalism class at a college on Mouse Island, she has no idea that she’s going to be called on to help solve a mystery. But when a student disappears, it’s up to Thea and five of her students to find out what happened. A nail-biting mystery ensues, complete with secret passages, underground tunnels, and more than a few surprises along the way. Readers will love following the clues to help Thea and her new friends through their first adventure together!”

Older Readers

Endgame: The Calling

I LOVED Endgame. It is a high stakes, high intensity read full of codes, puzzles, and adventure. The characters waltz across the globe trying to stop the end of the world, and kill each other while they’re at it. The best part of the book, is that it’s a puzzle with a prize. No, really. The book contains clues and is a real life scavenger hunt to a huge prize. Each clue leads you to the next one, beginning with the cipher at the end of the novel. The contest officially ran when it was first published, so unfortunately the cash prize is no longer available. But, the book may still be read and the clues may still be solved. Good luck!

Psst! It now has a sequel!!

Here’s the summary: “Twelve teens who have prepared their entire lives for an ancient life-or-death game must finally come to terms with its arrival, forming tenuous alliances and kiling each other for the chance to be the last one standing and the winner of the ultimate prize: the ability to save a select group of people from the end of the world.”

Remember to submit your challenges to us through our submissions page.

The more challenges you complete, the more entries you earn into our grand prize draw!