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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: mysteries for kids, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 7 of 7
1. CODE NAME 711 is out in paperback today! Here's to Linc and George...

Double Vision: Code Name 711 is out in paperback today! Very exciting, since I love paperbacks. There's nothing like a brand new book for just seven bucks, I think.

In case you're just joining the Double Vision trilogy conversation, Code Name 711 is the second book, set in Washington DC, city of spies... I have a soft spot for this book, since it gave me a chance to share a ton of cool spy history relating to George Washington and the Revolutionary War. Plus, Linc made a new friend in First Daughter Amy, and he got to see the White House... I love this book. I hope you'll have a chance to read it, and tell me what you think.

If you're an educator (or just a history nut like me), check out this post with resources related to George Washington and the Culper Spy Ring. Kid friendly and full of facts.

And in case you really want just the facts (ma'am), here's a review of non-fiction book for kids that pairs really well with Code Name 711, entitled George Washington, Spy Master by Thomas B. Allen.
Recommended for history buffs young and old.

I know it's not quite President's Day yet, or George Washington's birthday (Feb. 22nd), but I'm sure George wouldn't mind it if we have some virtual cake. Pass it around, guys!

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2. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday review: The Code Busters Club #1 by Penny Warner

From the Publisher:

Cody, Quinn, Luke, and M.E. may be really different, but they all share one thing in common: they love playing around with codes. In fact, they love codes so much, they have their own private club, with a super-secret hideout and passwords that change every single day.

When Cody and Quinn notice what could be a code on the window of a nearby house, the one owned by their strange neighbor, the guy they call Skeleton Man, the club gets to work. And it is a cry for help!

Now the Code Busters are on the case—and nothing will stop them from solving the mystery and finding the secret treasure that seems to be the cause of it all!

My thoughts:

Oh, this book was such fun! Perfect for your younger middle-grade reader, ages 7-11, I would say, and equally appealing for boys and girls. The writing is tight, the characters fun, the mystery solid. I'll be checking out the rest of the series. I saw that the second book won the Agatha this year--no surprise there.

Where I found out about this book:

One of my favorite blogs, YA Book Nerd, reviewed it not too long ago. Since there are codes in the book, I thought I should check it out. Glad I did.

For more MMGM reviews, go to Shannon Messenger's blog.... Read the rest of this post

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3. The Great Cake Mystery

People who know me well know I love mysteries. I started at age 10 with the Nancy Drew series and never looked back. Today children can get hooked on detective stories at an even earlier age. Precious Ramotswe, a private eye living in Botswana, stars in a number of adult mysteries written by the prolific Alexander McCall Smith. Now young readers have the chance to meet Precious as Smith recounts how she solved her first case while still a schoolgirl. Smith has an easy, conversational style. He begins, "Have you ever said to yourself, Wouldn't it be nice to be a detective?" Readers feel themselves in the hands of a natural storyteller and immediately relax.

The mystery Precious solves is appropriately scaled for young readers. A thief is stealing delicious baked goods from students in school. When a boy is accused on circumstantial evidence, Precious comes to his rescue. And when the true suspect is revealed, like in every good mystery, readers will experience both surprise at not spotting the culprit sooner and a sense of inevitability.

Set in Botswana, the book immerses readers in a world much different from the world they know. Smith begins the book with Precious's father relating a tale of how he saved his village from a hungry lion by keeping his wits about him. Readers will relate, though, to Precious and her classmates, who behave as children do the world over.

The book is illustrated in striking woodcuts. Ian McIntosh limits himself to a palette of red, black, and gray, yet manages to produce  bold artwork that give the story a timeless feel. Altogether, this book serves as a fine introduction to the mystery genre.

The Great Cake Mystery
by Alexander McCall Smith
illustrations by Iain McIntosh
Anchor Books, 80 pages
Published: April 2012

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4. Review: Edgar Nominee For Best Juvenile: It Happened On A Train by Mac Barnett

The fourth book on my reading list of Edgar nominees for Best Juvenile had me reading It Happened On A Train by Mac Barnett, the third in the Brixton Brothers mysteries series. I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to follow along, as I hadn't read book one or two, but no worries needed. This book stands nicely on its own.

The story starts with seventh grader Steve Brixton feeling kind of down. He's retired from his PI business (a fun running joke in the book), and is busy throwing out his beloved Bailey Brothers mystery books. Steve's just lost all faith in himself and what he thought the PI business stood for. So when he goes on a field trip by train, he doesn't plan to solve any more mysteries.

Until he meets a pretty (and smart) girl named Claire, and ends up taking on one last case: finding the missing (and very expensive) cars belonging to the rich Vanderdraaks. With help of his best friend Dana, Steve is a true PI, and the book has you turning the pages and laughing at the jokes that are sprinkled throughout. Chase scenes on the train and cool illustrations by Adam Rex make this a fun middle-grade mystery great for the more reluctant reader.

Verdict: Great mystery, a modern take on The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew-type stories. Fun, fast-paced.

Mystery Quotient: 5 out of 5. Solid middle-grade PI story.

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5. Review: Edgar Nominee For Best Juvenile: Vanished by Sheela Chari

The third book on my list of Edgar nominees for Best Juvenile had me reading Vanished by Sheela Chari. Can I just say that this is one of the best covers I've seen this year?

But on to the story. Eleven year-old Neela has the most beautiful instrument: her grandmothers veena, an instrument from India with a magical past. When it gets stolen from Neela, she feels horribly guilty, and begins her quest to find the veena. She follows different clues like a true amateur sleuth: a magical teakettle, a link to a dead musician... Meanwhile, Neela is trying to figure out where she fits at home, at school and with her friends, as well as what's really important to her.

This story felt like a classic middle-grade: the coming of age story, the unique cultural insight, and a mystery to keep the story moving. The author added some notes in the back of the book about the veena and her research--great extra material that I think should put this book with the classics in MG.

Verdict: strong MG classic, a great insight into the veena and Indian culture, too

Mystery Quotient: 4 out of 5. Not a mystery first, but still a good contender.

Side note: This book should be on the various children's awards list, I think. Perfect coming-of-age story.

2 Comments on Review: Edgar Nominee For Best Juvenile: Vanished by Sheela Chari, last added: 4/19/2012
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6. Edgar Nominee For Best Juvenile: The Wizard of Dark Street by Shawn Thomas Odyssey

The second read in my tour of the Edgar nominees for Best Juvenile had me reading The Wizard of Dark Street by Shawn Thomas Odyssey. This one made me smile: if Roald Dahl and Agatha Christie wrote a book together, this would be it. And that's a pretty big compliment, since both authors are childhood favorites of mine.

The story: 12 year-old Oona is the wizard's apprentice on Dark Street, a magical world that's hidden on the streets of New York City.
But Oona would rather be an investigator, so she leaves the world of magic to solve a mystery: who killed her uncle, the wizard?

The narrative flows perfectly, the characters are quirky, and the whodunit is fun and paced well. This was a well-balanced blend of magic and mystery for the middle-grade reader.

Verdict: Great for kids who like mystery and magic alike; paced for the reluctant reader.

Mystery Quotient: 4 out of 5, since it was as much mystery as fantasy. Solid amateur sleuth story, though.

2 Comments on Edgar Nominee For Best Juvenile: The Wizard of Dark Street by Shawn Thomas Odyssey, last added: 4/15/2012
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7. Wacky Wednesday: Explore Egypt with Fiona Ingram

sacredscarabwow logo What could be better than two boys and an adventure in Egypt? It’s hard to think of anything! So, join me today with Fiona Ingram while she visits my blog on her WOW! Women On Writing blog tour to talk about her middle-grade novel, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab.

**BOOK GIVEAWAY CONTEST: Please leave a comment or question for Fiona about her book, Egypt, or any of the resources she has for us here. If you are a teacher, home school parent, or librarian, you can use all of Fiona’s information and her book to teach your students and children about Egypt.

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab:
A thrilling adventure for two young boys whose fun trip to Egypt turns into a dangerously exciting quest to uncover an ancient and mysterious secret. A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. With just their wits, courage, and each other, the boys manage to survive. . .only to find that the end of one journey is the beginning of another!

FionaIngram1.jpg A special treat! An interview with the author:

Margo: Hi Fiona! Welcome to Read These Books and Use Them! Where did you get the idea for The Secret of the Sacred Scarab?

Fiona: Believe it or not, but a family trip to Egypt with my mom and my two nephews inspired the book. We had a wonderful time, filled with exciting and memorable events. And on our return, I decided to do something different. I decided to write my nephews a short story to keep as a souvenir of our holiday. Pretty soon, that short story just ran away with me and turned into a book; and by the end of the book, I knew there was still a lot of story to complete. So, here I am with a book series facing me.

Margo: But how exciting that you have so much to say! How long did you research this book since it is set in Egypt? What are a couple of your favorite research methods?

Fiona: I am a journalist so I tend to “collect” things on any trip—souvenirs, postcards, museum tickets, air tickets, post cards, book marks, and guide books. These act as triggers for my memory. I also scribbled down things on the Egypt trip. Then of course, the real experiences of the place are important—the heat, the people, the customs, the different clothes, the monuments, the endless waves of desert sand, the blinding sunlight. . . Back home, I structured my story and then did solid book research on the places and historical things that would play a part in the unfolding of the plot. I tend to plot the whole story, then create my chapter points, then look up all the information I will need in each chapter. I always do a final “fact check” before completing a chapter. The entire project took about three years from start to finish, from starting the manuscript to finally getting it published.

Margo: Thank you for sharing your process with us. If anyone reading this post is a children’s writer or aspiring to be one, your answer could help them on their journey! What are some challenges of writing a mystery for kids

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