Posts from the ‘mystery’ Category

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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THE RIGHT DECISION

The Doll Dilemma (Kids’ Court Book 1)

Written by Caron Pescatore

When Jenny accuses her twin brother, Jimmy of breaking the head off of her favorite doll, Jimmy swears that he is innocent. But Jimmy has a history of breaking his sister’s toys. Jimmy’s friend Luanna tries to intercede. Luanna’s parents are a lawyer and a judge and she has spent lots of time at work with them. So Luanna suggests that the local kids get together and have a trial to prove Jimmy’s guilt or innocence. They set up the court in Luanna’s basement. The group chooses a bailiff, investigators, attorneys, and witnesses. Because they don’t have enough children to set up a jury, they decide on a bench trial.

Readers are guided through the whole legal process. They learn about legal terminology and procedure. There is also an element of mystery that sharp detectives use to resolve Jimmy’s guilt or innocence. The dialogue moves along well and is authentic for the age group. Middle-grade readers who enjoy humor, detective stories, strong characters, and legal procedures will find something to learn and enjoy.

Highly recommended for readers in the middle-grades or anyone who enjoys a fun, fast read.

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STAR LIGHT, STAR BRIGHT

Alicia and the Light Bulb People in Star Factory 13

Written by Barbara Roman

Illustrated by Vladimir Cebu

Ten-year-old Alicia is shopping with her mother for new lamps. Her mood is upbeat as she walks through Walker’s Furniture store two weeks before Christmas. Suddenly, she is mesmerized by a beautiful Christmas tree which appears in the middle of the floor. Alicia stares at its beautiful star and is whisked away to the 13th floor on an elevator that opens to a light bulb factory. She finds herself in a factory where light bulbs are retired after they stop working. Alicia meets Carelia, the fairy goddess who oversees the factory. Carelia informs Alicia that the light bulbs must pass a test to determine whether they might become stars and that she needs Alicia to help her. Alicia is confused and upset. She doesn’t understand why she is needed and how she wound up in a place where there is no past or tomorrow, but she will learn much about unique personalities, utilizing our talents, and working cooperatively. What is expected of her and why was she chosen? Will Alicia ever get back to her world? Did she ever leave it?

This book is a charming fantasy, mystery, and science fiction read. It might be considered both a chapter book or a short story. The fifty-page length makes it a good choice for reluctant readers. Cebu creates dazzling illustrations and the large font size make it a good choice for beginning readers, while the intricate plot and well-developed characters will appeal to middle-grade and young adult audiences.

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STRANGER DANGER

The Rocking Horse

Written by Karrie Loomis

I enjoyed reading this chapter book centering on Michaela and Sylvia, two ten and eight-year-old sisters who appear to have little in common. One day while playing in the backyard, they decide to take a walk and get lost. They encounter a ghostly, creepy house. Sylvia persuades her older sister to investigate and the adventure ensues.

While inside the girls discover a rocking horse. Upon riding it, a young ghost named Cindy taunts and threatens them. Michaela tries to calm her sister by spinning a tale, but both girls are afraid they will never see their parents and baby brother again. Throughout the ordeal, the sisters uncover little-known truths about themselves. Cindy reveals a compassionate side of herself and a lesson about strangers the girls will never forget.

This short chapter book of approximately one hundred pages has a powerful safety lesson for its young readers. It is most appropriate for children in the eight-to twelve-year-old age range but certainly an enjoyable read for any age.

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MEMORIES AND MYSTERIES

THE FLYING FROG

Written by David Yair

Illustrated by Ilana Graf and Natalie Jackson

This is book five of The Flying Frog series, but it stands alone as an interesting approach for children to understand Alzheimer disease. The Rimon children are a clever pair of siblings who are adept at solving mysteries. They accomplish this task with the help of a flying frog named Quack.

In Book Five of the series, Adam Shor is a retired carpenter who is beloved in his town. He is now in the advanced stages of Alzheimer disease. His wife. children and grandchildren watch over him. One day, he walks out of the garden gate. gets confused and lost. The whole town mobilizes to search for him. The Rimon children enlist the aid of Quack. They tie balloons to him and launch him into the forest.

As the story unfolds, children begin to understand the complexities of the disease and the emotional upheaval that it evokes in the family and friends. This story is an excellent way to introduce a discussion about the topic to children. There are a few endearing illustrations that portray the emotional impact of the tale. The book is short at under forty pages, but I would have liked to have seen larger print for the targeted middle-grade audience. Recommended especially for readers in the eight to twelve age range.

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PAYBACK

Max’s Revenge

Written by Sally Gould

This is the first book in a series of books revolving on the main character, Max. Max always seems to get the short end of the stick. His older brother, Charlie, is perceived to be perfect. In the first story, the siblings are invited to the wedding of their Uncle Dan. But before the vows are exchanged, Charlie lures Max into a trap that ends with his falling out of a tree and disrupting the wedding. Things further deteriorate at the wedding reception, when Charlie attracts the flower girl, Lucy, who Max adores. Charlie becomes a partner in crime with the bartender and Sophie’s three brothers who conspire to booby trap the marriage getaway car. To make matters worse, Max’s evil Aunt schemes to get Max into trouble. Of course, Max finds devious ways to get his revenge.

The second story centers around Charlie and Max’s visit to their Nana’s house. A social worker has persuaded the boys’ parents to take a much-needed break. While at Nana’s house, the boys discover that the evil Aunt is trying to get Nana to sell her house. The boys get their revenge on their Aunt and try to prevent the sale. They plan several pranks to thwart the sale, but they discover Nana secretly wants to move. How will they undo the damage? The hilarious result will be that Max has to eat dog food stew.

Children in grades three to six will find themselves empathizing with poor Max. Perhaps they have a relative like Max’s evil Aunt. The comedy is spot on and the dialogue appears genuine and age appropriate. Length of the stories is not too long so the book will appeal to reluctant readers. Perfect choice for a summer read.

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