Posts from the ‘mystery’ Category

A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE INCIDENTS

The Frights of Fiji: (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions Series Book 1

Written by Sunayna Prasad

This is the first in a series of fantasy adventures for middle-grade readers. Alyssa is the twelve-year-old protagonist who lost her parents in an accident five years prior. Although her parents had named her Uncle Alex as her guardian, she is now living with her Uncle Bruce and his daughter, Hailey.

Bruce is a stern taskmaster; Alyssa lives a life of unending rules and drudgery. When magic becomes a part of her life, along with some strange-looking wizards and creatures, she believes there is the hope of escape from her plight. But then she learns that an evil wizard intends to capture her and remove Bruce from the picture.

Alyssa has been whisked away to Fiji where her situation goes from bad to worse. She is enslaved with several other children and forced to do the evil wizard’s bidding. Will Alyssa find a way to escape back to the United States and find refuge with her godfather?

There are many fantastical characters and a series of rather far-fetched incidents. Even though this book is a magical fantasy, some of the plot connections don’t come off as genuine.

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CASE SOLVED?

The MEAN GIRL Who NEVER SPEAKS: (The Maya Dove Case Files Book 1)

Written by Zuni Blue

Maya Dove is a six-year-old detective who has already established her reputation at school. One of Maya’s classmates asks her to determine if a new girl at school, Libby Smith is mean or nice. Instead of chapters, the book is presented as a day of the week chronicle as Maya attempts to solve the case. Readers are brought through the day’s happenings in the classroom. Maya gathers her clues, but when Friday arrives she reveals her opinions in a classroom speech.

I am not sure whether Maya really solves the case. She does not state whether Libby is mean or nice but presents her solution in a way that introduces an important social issue. Certainly, Maya’s opinions are quite sophisticated for a six-year-old.

This book is targeted for 5 to 11-year-old readers. The text and vocabulary are an easy read until readers come to the end and Maya’s conclusion. I am not sure whether younger readers will understand the concept of social anxiety. That part of the book is most appropriate for readers ages nine and older. Younger readers will probably need adult help in understanding this concept. I was left with the feeling that the book ended a bit abruptly and the characters might have been fleshed out with more detail.

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FOUR FRIENDS SIT FOR A SPELL #HappyEaster #EarthDay

Cassie’s Coven: The Case of the six-legged frog (The Cassie Coven Series Book 1)

Written by Helen Allan

The first book in this middle-grade mystery series features four Australian girls. Cassie and Lolly share a love of horses and attend school together. One day Cassie buys an old book and discovers it is a magic book of spells. Shortly after Cassie finds a sickly fox kit and Lolly discovers a six-legged frog in a nearby creek. The book talks about a coven of four witches, yellow, black, white and green. Lolly and Cassie invite Charlotte and a new girl at school, Pia to join their group. Pia’s great-grandmother offers an old cottage on her property as a clubhouse. Soon the girls are using it to solve the mystery of why nearby animals and cattle are becoming sick and dying. Lolly and Cassie fall ill, and they show symptoms of poisoning.

The four girls decide that Mr. Larkin, a neighbor, seems too eager to scare them off his property and they vow to investigate why. They use the clubhouse to get close and are shocked to discover that the book of spells can help them to solve the mystery. This is the first book of the series that combines fun adventures of four ten-year-old friends, some magic, and issues related to the environment set in Australia. Recommended for readers ages ten and older.

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CLEVER KATZ

THE KATZ PAJAMAS: THE MISS KITTY MYSTERY

Written by Jack Lugar

Katz is the name of a clever, Maine Coon cat who is a private investigator. Katz is sitting in his office when Kitty Cat, a famous nightclub performer strolls into his office. Kitty wants to hire him to find out who has been stealing personal possessions from her dressing room. Katz jumps at the chance and he is invited to her club to investigate the mystery.

Katz meets Bogey, Kitty’s dog, Rufus, the bouncer, Cali the state manager, Thom, the stagehand, and Mr. Bigly, Kitty’s guard. He carefully observes and looks for clues as the night progresses. Before long, Katz has the solution to the mystery. He calls together the cast of characters and explains how he solved the case. Of course, he is saddened that there is no longer a reason for Kitty to pay attention to him because Katz has developed quite a crush on Kitty.

This is a cute chapter book of fewer than one hundred pages. The characters are charming and the dialogue clever and humorous. There are no illustrations. While the book is targeted for ages five through ten, I believe it better suited for ages seven through twelve. It is a fast-paced fun read and I would read other books in the series.

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AN EYE FOR DETAIL

At Your Service!: Blondie McGhee Detective Series: Funny Detective Stories

Written by Ashley Eneriz

 

The first book in a detective series based on fourth grade Graham Elementary student Blondie McGhee. Blondie became interested in mysteries when her Grandmother gave her a detective kit when she was in third grade. As the story opens Blondie is excited to begin fourth grade. She is eager to recruit students at the school who have a mystery to solve.
One week passes by with no case in site. Blondie fears she has not advertised enough so she stands on the lunch table and offers her detective services to all the students. All seem to ignore her, except Owen Thomas who claims there is a mysterious noise coming from the janitor’s closet. Blondie makes an excuse to leave class and investigates. She is horrified when Mike, a friend of Owen, is hiding inside dressed as a monster. The three students are in big trouble; Blondie is a laughingstock. Blondie feels a little better after her mother shares her own embarrassing school story, but Blondie is reluctant about returning to school. She is shocked when Owen comes to her door to apologize and beg her help to solve a real mystery.

Blondie is back on the case of the Tuesday Food Fight. She methodically follows the clues until this genuine mystery is solved. Blondie wins back her credibility and reputation. There will be many more mysteries to solve in the next books of the series.

The author recommends her series for girls in the nine to twelve age range. I think boys will enjoy them as well. The book-length of fewer than one hundred pages and adorable black and white illustrations allow the stories to appeal to reluctant readers and advanced beginning readers as well. Detective story fans mark this series as one to add to your collection.

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WINTER’S TALE

Snowdrops: Adventure Three (Book # 3 in the Adventures of Katie and Alex series)

Written by Julia Gousseva

Ten-year-old Alex and his nine-year-old sister are staying with their Aunt Karina while their parents are working in Russia. Karina frequently reads the children Russian folktales. But she does more than read those tales, the children have discovered a fireplace that leads to a magic portal through which they become a part of that story.

One day the children are on the porch when the summer weather suddenly turns stormy. Within a matter of minutes, snowdrops are swirling. Alex, Katie and their Aunt Karina retreat to the warmth of the house. Karina reads them a folktale about a girl named Masha who lives with her wicked stepmother, Darya.  This stepmother ordered Masha to go into the forest and pick snowdrops even though it was still winter. Alex, Katie, and Karina rush into the forest to save Masha and they proceed to have an adventure in which they meet Father Frost and move through all the seasons of the year. The children learn about the seasons and meet the Twelve Months of the Year.

Will the children and their aunt be able to rescue Masha and prevent Darya from abusing her further?

This is a chapter book that combines elements of fantasy with a Russian folktale and a travel adventure. There are no illustrations. I would recommend this book as a good choice for readers in third through fifth grade, but readers of any age who enjoy multicultural folktales will probably enjoy it.

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MAN’S BEST SUPER SLEUTH

Hide and Panic Stations (Super Sleuth Sam Book 1)

Written by Monty J. McClaine

This is the first book in a nine-part series. The author uses the introduction to present the characters of the series. Jack is a mischievous six-year-old. His father likes to tinker in the garage with his Corvette, his mother is a devoted stay at home mom, his sister, Molly has just begun to crawl. Sam, the basset hound is always on red alert protecting the family and serving as Jack’s constant companion. But Sam is no ordinary dog, he has magical powers passed down to him from his ancestors. When Sam recites his chant, he develops super speed and the detective skills of a Sherlock Holmes.

One day Jack and Sam are playing hide and seek. Jack pushes the envelope by finding a hiding place in which no one discovers him. While Jack is comfortably ensconced reading his dad’s comic and enjoying a snack, the rest of the family is in panic mode. Readers will enjoy how Sam employs his super speed and detective smarts to solve the mystery of Sam’s disappearance. Sam’s parents are about to call the police. Will Sam be able to solve the mystery? Perhaps young readers will be able to help.

This book is a fun chapter book for beginning and middle-grade readers. It presents a typical family with some atypical characteristics, some humor, and a mystery for readers to ponder. Recommended especially for third to fifth graders. The length of approximately one hundred pages makes it a good choice for reluctant readers as well.

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