The Explorer Academy: The Dragon’s Blood Blog Tour

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Welcome back to the Explorer Academy! and…

The Explorer Academy: The Dragon’s Blood Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of Explorer Academy: The Dragon’s Blood by Trudi Trueit on October 5th, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive guest posts from Trudi, as well as 5 chances to win all 6 books in the series so far! The 7th and final book in the series will be released in Fall 2022.

Cracking the Code
by Trudi Trueit

When I was a kid, my best friend, Debbie, and I would make rebus puzzles. That’s where you replace the words in a phrase with pictures, symbols, or numbers; not so different from the way we use emojis when we text today. In math class, Debbie and I would pass rebuses between us, laughing at each other’s silly drawings and wordplay. The goal was to see if you could decode the other person’s message before they deciphered yours or the teacher caught you! So when I started planning Explorer Academy, a series about a boy traveling the world to track down the pieces of his mother’s secret formula, I knew codes had to be part of the adventure. I also figured it would be a fun way to include the reader. You get to solve the mystery right along with Cruz and his friends, or even before they do if you’re quick enough.

To create your own secret code, a Caesar cipher is one of the easiest to do. Simply shift letters up or down the alphabet one or more positions, so A becomes B, B becomes C, and so on. You can go backward and have Z become A, Y become B, X is C, etc. You might try substituting something else for each letter of the alphabet, maybe a symbol or numeral. Try numbering the letters 1 through 26 (again, you can do this forward or backward). See if you can decode the phrase below if A = 1, B = 2, C = 3 and so on. The answer is at the end of the post!

Hint: it’ll go faster if you make a decoder, rather than trying to count to each letter.

25-15-21   1-18-5    1-14    5-24-3-5-12-12-5-14-20    3-15-4-5    2-18-5-1-11-5-18!

In the first book in the Explorer Academy series, The Nebula Secret, Cruz’s mom designs her own substitution code using swirls. She leaves a decoder for Cruz, so that no one but Cruz and she will know how to decipher it. I use this swirl cipher several times in the text throughout the series, but here’s something you might have missed: it’s also on the book cover! Have you found it? Pssst, look on the spine. You can decipher it using the swirl chart in The Nebula Secret, but to decode the entire message, you’ll have to wait for the final book in the series, The Forbidden Island. Look for it in bookstores in the fall of 2022. In the meantime, for more code breaking fun, head to the Explorer Academy website.

Answer to the Numeral Substitution Message: You are an excellent code breaker!


Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

“a fully packed high-tech adventure that offers both cool, educational facts about the planet and a diverse cast of fun characters.” —Kirkus

“This exciting, fast-paced, far-flung story is full of science facts and James Bond-like gadgets, accompanied by colored illustrations.  The ending is guaranteed to keep readers eager for the next series installment.” –Booklist

Explorer Academy is exciting and smart.” —Karen Bokram, Editor-in-Chief, Girls’ Life

An explosive revelation and a familiar face heighten the mystery for Cruz and friends in the sixth book in this adventure-packed series.

Still reeling from the life-changing discovery he found buried in the mysterious archive, Cruz Coronado grapples with an important secret as the gang heads to China in search of the second-to-last piece of the cipher. Under the watchful eye of a new adviser, life on the ship returns to almost normal…Almost.

Just as things seem to be going smoothly, a familiar face shocks Cruz back into reality, and the final piece in this life-and-death scavenger hunt veers toward a dead end.

Check out the Explorer Academy website, featuring videos, comic shorts, games, profiles of real-life National Geographic Explorers, chapter excerpts and more. 

Follow Trudi: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Youtube

TRUDI TRUEIT has written more than 100 books for young readers, both fiction and nonfiction. Her love of writing began in fourth grade, when she wrote, directed, and starred in her first play. She went on to be a TV news reporter and weather forecaster, but she knew her calling was in writing. Trueit is a gifted storyteller for middle-grade audiences, and her fiction novels include The Sister Solution, Stealing Popular, and the Secrets of a Lab Rat series. Her expertise in kids nonfiction encompasses books on history, weather, wildlife, and earth science. She is the author of all the narratives for the Explorer Academy series, beginning with Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret. Trueit was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, and lives in Everett, Washington.


GO HERE FOR THE Rafflecopter giveaway

  • One (1) winner will receive all 6 Explorer Academy hardcovers (The Nebula Secret, The Falcon’s Feather, The Double Helix, The Star Dunes, The Tiger’s Nest, and the NEW book The Dragon’s Blood)
  • US/Canada only
  • Ends 11/1 at 11:59 pm ET
  • Check out the other stops for more chances to win!


Blog Tour Schedule

October 18thPragmatic Mom
October 19thImagination Soup
October 20thMom Read It
October 21stAlways in the Middle
October 22ndBookHounds



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  1. This sounds like such a fun and interesting book series that my daughters (and I) will love. Having a good series to read through keeps our nightly reading outloud tradition going even as they are getting older.