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Posts Tagged «mystery»

Trell

Monday, November 27th, 2017

51Da69LekyL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_by Dick Lehr, 307 pages, Grades 6-10

Van Trell has grown up while her dad has been in prison; he was falsely convicted of murder when Van Trell, or Trell,  was just a baby. Now that Trell is 14, she is determined to help prove her father’s innocence. Trell finds an investigative journalist to help her with her search for truth, but digging into the past can sometimes bring up things you would rather not know. Will their investigation help repair the system that put her dad in prison, their broken drug infested neighborhood, or even just Trell’s family?

If you enjoy reading about criminal justice, you might also enjoy All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, by Leslie Connor, or the autobiography/biography The Other Wes Moore, by Wes Moore.

The Leaving

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

by Tara Altebrando,   pages, Grades 8 and up

leavingEleven years ago Avery’s brother and 5 other 5-year-olds went missing after their first day of kindergarten. Today five of them mysteriously returned, but Max still has not come home. Stranger still, all the returned teenagers don’t remember anything of the last 11 years of their lives. They all have particular talents and skills and have basic knowledge as though someone has been educating them consistently. They pass aptitude tests, one can draw, one knows how to use a camera, a couple can drive, but none remember how they learned these things. This mystery and the fact that Max has not returned has left the whole town suspended in a state of relief – because some children have returned – and tension – because no one knows where they have been, what has gone on for 11 years. Many wonder who these children have become, but Avery mostly wants to know what has become of her brother, Max.

If you enjoy suspenseful stories and don’t mind them a little creepy you might also like: Break My Heart 1,000 Times, by Daniel Waters, Ink and Ashes, by Valynne E. Maetani, or The Reader, by Traci Chee.

You Are My Only

Monday, November 14th, 2016

you-are-my-only-beth-kephart-book-coverby Beth Kephart, 240 pages, Grades 7 and up

Emmy is a young first time mother when her baby is stolen. She is blamed and forced into an asylum as a result of the kidnapping where she grieves the loss of Baby and tries to understand her new circumstances and how to survive them.

Sophie has grown up home-schooled by her mother; they have lived in many different houses in many different cities in the effort to avoid the “No Good” her mother fears. Sophie has never really known anyone but her mother, but now that she is 14 she has become curious about people around her. The friends she makes next door empower her to investigate her mother’s past and give her strength to come to terms with what she discovers.

The two girls each narrate alternating chapters until their stories come together.

If you enjoy books about teenagers in trouble or complicated family situations you might also enjoy: Orbiting Jupiter, by Gary Schmidt, or Waiting for Normal, Leslie Connor.

The Clockwork Scarab

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

17084242by Colleen Gleason, 350 pages, Grades 7 and up

 

Sherlock Holmes’ niece, Mina and Bram Stoker’s (author of the novel Dracula) sister Evaline are cajoled into allying to uncover the mystery behind the death of young upper-class ladies in London.  Mina is a methodical detective, brilliant like her uncle, and calculating. Evaline comes from a family of vampire slayers; she is a tenacious fighter trained in various martial arts as well as an expert wielder of weaponry. The two have distinctly different approaches to crime fighting and have some trouble understanding each other, but they may come to find out that each one has something to offer that the other one desperately needs because this is a case of a lifetime.

 

If you like good detective stories or take-offs on Sherlock Holmes mysteries you might also like: Death Cloud, by Andy Lane, The Screaming Staircase or The Whispering Skull, by Jonathan Stroud.

The Whispering Skull

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

skullby Jonathan Stroud, 435 pages, Grades 6-8

Lockwood and Co. face new ghosts and other mysteries in this sequel to The Screaming Staircase. You can read these mysteries in any order, but should know the main premise: Lockwood and Co. is a team of three paranormal investigators. The world since the Problem began is a dangerous place to roam around at night. Ghosts are everywhere and those who cannot see them or hear them are in danger of terrifying haunting, injury or even death from “ghost touch.” No adults can see the ghosts so children and young adults are relied upon to put these roaming souls to rest so that people can live in peace. Lockwood and Co. is a small team of teens competing for jobs with giant investigative firms in London; George is their researcher, Anthony Lockwood has great sight, and Lucy is gifted at hearing the dead. In fact, she is starting to wonder if this “gift” of hers might be driving her mad when an ancient skull starts talking directly to her; can she trust the ghost or is he trying to trick her into becoming just like him?

The first book in this series is The Screaming Staircase, also by Stroud and a fantastic read as well. If you like creepy ghost stories you might also enjoy Break My Heart 1000 Times, by Daniel Waters.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

 

Always Emily

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

Always Emily - FINAL Cover with Blurbby Michaela MacColl, 282 pages, Grades 7 and up

Emily and Charlotte Bronte are unusual women for their time: they are educated and head-strong and they love writing above most other things. Charlotte is a planner; she is at school and hopes to bring Emily along knowing that when their father eventually dies they will have to take care of themselves. Emily is more passionate and would prefer to spend her time wandering the moors at home than stuck in a classroom no matter the consequences. After Emily’s behavior gets her kicked out and Charlotte fired the sisters find themselves at the center of a mystery involving a lady held captive, a young man spying on a neighboring household, and a secret men’s organization that their brother, Branwell, has gotten himself mixed up in.

If you enjoy Victorian mysteries you might also enjoy: The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud or mysteries about Sherlock Holmes’ sister by Nancy Springer, or mysteries about the young Sherlock Holmes starting with the first book called Death Cloud, by Andy Lane.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

 

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

The_Sweetness_at_the_Bottom_of_the_Pieby Alan Bradley, 385 pages, Adult audience

Flavia de Luce is a spunky 11 year old with a chemistry lab of her own. She lives with her father and sisters, in a large home in the English countryside in the 1950s. Most girls at that time, including Flavia’s sisters Ophelia and Daphne, are interested in dressing up and doing their hair, but Flavia is passionate about researching the nature of various poisons (in fact, she has been known to try out a few of her concoctions on her annoying sisters from time to time) and solving mysteries. When a dead bird with a postage stamp in its beak shows up on their front porch, Flavia decides to investigate. Working on her own might prove too dangerous even for the intrepid and intelligent Flavia de Luce.

If you enjoy historical fiction with strong female characters, you might also enjoy The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, or Deadly, by Julie Chibbaro.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

 

One Came Home

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Amysbookby Amy Timberlake, 257 pages, Grades 6-8

Georgie does not believe her sister, Agatha, is dead even when the sheriff shows her family a body wearing the dress her mother made for Agatha. Georgie and her sister don’t always see things the same way: Georgie is planning to take over the family store, and Agatha wants to go to college even though that is unusual for women in 1871, but Georgie knows her sister is too strong willed and smart to end up dead. The facts are that her sister did run off and no one has heard from her, the body has bright red hair just like Agatha’s, Georgie’s mother believes it is her daughter and proceeds to grieve and bury her accordingly, but Georgie is so convinced that cannot be her sister that she decides to investigate Agatha’s disappearance to see if she can scare up the truth and hopefully bring her sister home.

If you like historical fiction taking place in this time period you might also enjoy Lily, by Cindy Bonner, or Sunshine Rider: the First Vegetarian Western, by Ric Lynden Hardman.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Picture Me Gone

Monday, March 31st, 2014

picture me goneby Meg Rosoff, 239 pages, Grades 7 and up

Mila is one of those intuitive people; she can read people. She lives happily and uneventfully with her parents in London until her father’s old friend, Matthew, goes missing.  Mila and her dad, Gil, go to the United States to solve the mystery of Gil’s missing friend. It turns out Mila is not only helping her dad solve the puzzle of the moment, but also uncovering the details of an older mystery besides. Mila discovers no one is just good, or evil; people and relationships are complex and life can sometimes be pretty messy.

If you enjoy realistic fiction you might also like: Guitar Boy by M.J. Auch or Deliver Us From Normal, by Kate Klise. If you are interested in the complexity of life you might also enjoy: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman, or Dirty Little Secrets, by C. J. Omololu.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Floors

Monday, December 16th, 2013

floorsby Patrick Carman, 261 pages, Grades 5-7

* STUDENT REVIEW *

Leo is a maintenance boy at the fantastic Whippet Hotel, run by Merganzer Whippet. Mr. Whippet is a wacky inventor and lover of ducks. Leo spends every day surrounded by the robot room, the cake room, the pinball room, and many others. He caters to all the unique inhabitants of the whippet hotel, including a writer, a captain, and a former socialite, and even 6 ducks, but most of all, the dreaded Ms. Sparks. When Merganzer Whippet disappears, Ms. Sparks starts taking over the hotel. Leo heads off on a wild goose chase, or rather, a wild duck chase, all instrumented by Mr. Whippet himself. Can Leo save the hotel before it's too late?

If you enjoy books full of whimsy, you might also like The Candy Makers, by Wendy Mass or the Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman.

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

 

Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase

Monday, December 9th, 2013

screaming staircaseby Jonathan Stroud, 390 pages, Grades 6-9

London is crawling with ghosts and they are not friendly; they are, in fact, dangerous. Many people died because they were “ghost touched” until they discovered that adolescents and teens have a special ghost sensory ability that makes them particularly able when it comes to investigating hauntings.  Lucy Carlyle is one of these talented young people and she finds a job with Lockwood and Co., a private agency responsible for ghost eradication – a bit like the Sherlock Holmes agency for ghosts and hauntings. Of course, people who haunt generally have troubled pasts, so often Lockwood and Co. are not only extinguishing ghosts, but they are also uncovering murderers, which is a dangerous occupation indeed.

If you enjoy ghost stories you might also like Break My Heart 1,000 Times, by Daniel Waters, or if you enjoy a good mystery you might also like Death Cloud, by Andy Lane a young Sherlock Holmes story.

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Cuckoo’s Calling

Monday, December 9th, 2013

cuckoo's callingby Robert Galbraith (really J.K. Rowling’s pseudonym), 455 pages, Adult Mystery

Lula Landry, gorgeous English supermodel, just fell from her penthouse balcony to her death. The media has no trouble believing the police’s verdict of suicide, after all, Lula lived in the fast lane, and everyone knows she has been on medication for mood swings as well.  That’s why when Lula’s brother shows up in Strike’s office, the veteran and struggling private investigator is taken by surprise. Strike is enduring a hard patch at the moment: the love of his life has just walked out, he is not only out of money, but overdue on shady loan payments, and is currently living in his office. Robin walks in to Strike’s office right before Lula’s brother; she has been sent there as a temporary secretary, and though Mr. Strike seems unprepared for her or for life in general, it has always been her secret dream to work for a private detective.

If you enjoy detective novels you might also like Heist Society, by Ally Carter, The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud, or Death Cloud, by Andy Lane.

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Apothecary

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

apothecaryby Maile Meloy,  353 pages,  Grades 6-8

Janie’s parents are film-makers from Los Angeles, but in 1952 when fear of communism has Hollywood under the microscope, Janie’s family jumps at the chance to work in London, England. They trade luxury for safety, or so they think.

Benjamin, the apothecary’s son, is in school with Janie, thinks what his father does is pretty boring; he’d rather be a spy than learn how to brew cures, but his father will never understand.

While Janie helps Benjamin spy on a someone Benjamin suspects of working for the Russian government, they discover that Benjamin’s dad is a lot more than a dispenser of medicine. He is about to confront his father when the apothecary goes missing.  Now it is up to Janie and Benjamin to find his father and protect the magical book that apothecaries have been hiding for generations; suddenly, his father’s job doesn’t seem so boring after all.

If you enjoy stories about mystery and adventure you might also enjoy The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart, The London Eye Mystery, by Siobhan Dowd, or The Unknowns, by Benedict Carey.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Liar & Spy

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

liar&spyby Rebecca Stead, 180 pages, Grades 6-8

Georges and his mom and dad have just downsized and are moving out of a house and into an apartment. He has been navigating bullying and his parents’ extra time working and away from home so when an opportunity to respond to a handwritten flyer for a spy club presents itself, his father encourages him to check it out.  Safer is a homeschooled kid living in the apartment complex and he allows Georges to help him spy on Mr. X, who he believes is a murderer. A new friend and the distraction of spying on Mr. X might be just what Georges needs to help him through this difficult time, but there is more than one mystery that needs unraveling in Georges’ life.  Who will turn out to be the liar and who the spy in the end?

If you enjoy this book, you might like others by Rebecca Stead like:  When You Reach Me (Newbery award winner 2010), and First Light.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

 

Hold Fast

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

by Blue Balliett, 274 pages, Grades 6-9

CYRM NOMINEE 2016

Early lives with her father, Dash, her mother, Summer, and her little brother, Jubilation.  They are a happy family hoping to live in a cute little house one day.  They play word games, and read books together in their little apartment while Dash tries to save up enough money for their dream house. To make extra money he has a new night job sorting books; his day job is at the local library.  He and Al go through boxes of old books to send to a second-hand bookseller somewhere.  The job seems a little strange to Early, but she never expected it to be dangerous.  One day her father goes missing and the next their apartment is invaded and ransacked and they are out on the street.  The little family of three struggles to “hold fast” living in a shelter while they wait for Dash to return, but when the police prove less than helpful Early is compelled to solve the mystery behind her father’s disappearance herself.

 

Blue Balliett has written a lot of terrific mysteries:  Chasing Vermeer, The Wright Three, The Calder Game, and The Danger Box; if you enjoy Hold Fast, you might like those as well.

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

The Great Unexpected

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

great unexpectedby Sharon Creech, 226 pages, Grades 6-7

Naomi and Lizzie are two orphan girls living in a small American town with many albeit distant connections to Ireland.  One day boy called Finn falls out of a tree practically onto Naomi’s head, and this begins the magical mystery.  Who is “this Finn boy” and who is the Dingle Dangle man who has been seen around town, and what do they have to do with the orphan girls?   The girls’ story is told alternating with a tale of others who live across the ocean in the old country, and, of course, they are somehow all connected.  

The Great Unexpected reads like a modern Irish fairy tale; if you enjoy fairy tales, or realistic fantasy you might also like:  A Dog For Life, by L.S. Matthews or My Name is Mina and I Love the Night, by David Almond.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Moon Over Manifest

Monday, August 13th, 2012

PDF Creation in Quark 7by Clare Vanderpool, 351 pages, Grades 5-8

 
Abilene is used to moving from place to place in 1936.  She and her dad never stay too long anywhere so she has seen a lot of different towns in her 12 years.  Unstable as life on the road might seem to an outsider, Abilene’s dad has been the one constant in her life; they always stick together.  This summer, though, things are different; her dad just drops her in his hometown of Manifest with complete strangers (his father’s good friends) and leaves her there alone.  He says it is just for the summer, but Pastor Shady makes her attend the last day of school anyway.  At first she thinks she’ll be quietly counting the days until her stay in Manifest is over, but then she discovers a loose floorboard with treasures beneath:  letters and mementos about the town in 1918 and a notorious WWII spy called the Rattler.  Abilene is surrounded by mysteries and is determined to discover how these characters fit together and what they can teach her about her father’s personal history as well.
 
If you enjoy stories about kids overcoming family hardship, you might also enjoy Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, or Absolutely Normal Chaos, by Sharon Creech, or A Dog for Life, by L.S. Matthews.
 

Death Cloud

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Death-Cloud-HCby Andrew Lane,    311 pages,     Grades 6-9

Maybe you have heard of Sherlock Holmes the grown man who solved impossible crimes with his sidekick Watson, but did you ever wonder what he was like as a teenager?

Death Cloud is the first adventure of the teenage Sherlock.  He is not yet officially the mastermind he will become, but you can see his mind already has those keen sensibilities that make him the superior detective he is as an adult.

“‘You came in Father’s carriage,’” the young Sherlock tells his older brother when he sees him.

“‘How on earth did you deduce that, young man?’

Sherlock shrugged. ‘I noticed the parallel creases in your trousers where the upholstery pressed them, … Father’s carriage has a tear in the upholstery that was repaired rather clumsily a few years ago.  The impression of that repair is pressed into your trousers…’”

Brilliant deduction!  But can he solve the mysterious murders taking people around him in a cloud of death while being pursued by the criminals themselves?  Is the teenager up to the task?

Connections:  If you like a good mystery you might also enjoy Heist Society, by Ally Carter, or Montmorency:  Thief, Liar Gentleman?, by Eleanor Updale.

 

Click here to see if it’s available for check out.

The Poison Diaries

Friday, June 3rd, 2011
poison diariesby Maryrose Wood,    278 pages,   Grades 7 and up. Even Jesamine, who is the daughter of the apothecary and a skilled gardener,  is not allowed beyond the locked gate of the poison garden. Jesamine lives with her father, who heals the sick in and around London, in a country house in the mid 1800s.

One day the man in charge of the local home for the insane delivers a mysterious young man he calls Weed to their doorstep.  Jesamine’s father agrees to take him in even though he seems dangerous; he might be to blame for curing those in the asylum, and creating an epidemic of insanity in town.

The arrival of Weed reveals things to Jesamine that she has not realized about herself, about her father, and about the nature of poisons. Her life will never be the same.

If you like romance, mystery and fantasy you might also like Graceling, by Kristin Cashore, Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, or Matched by Allie Condie.

 

Heist Society

Friday, May 13th, 2011

heist societyby Ally Carter, 287 pages,  Grades 6-10

Kat knows a lot about famous works of art, she is an expert when it comes to museums, but she is not a museum curator or an art history major; she is a teenager.  Kat was raised surrounded some of the greatest criminal masterminds in history; her mom died when she was young, but her dad and her Uncle Eddie taught her everything she knows, and she knows a lot!

Kat thinks she is taking a break from the family business; she is enrolled in a private boarding school, but then her dad is in trouble and she has to pull a heist herself to save him.

If you liked any of the Oceans movies you’ll enjoy Heist Society; it is Oceans Eleven with teen criminals and a female in charge.

 

Grounded

Thursday, May 12th, 2011
Groundedby Kate Klise 196 pages Grades 6-7Daralynn’s father, brother and baby sister died in a plane accident, and Daralynn is only alive because she was grounded that day and had been forced to remain behind.

After the tragedy, her mother becomes the hairdresser for the dead at the local mortuary to make ends meet, but it is not easy to recover from such a shattering loss.  Daralynn’s mother is not only over-protective of her, but also seems to be angry about everything, and kind to no one.

Even Daralynn’s Aunt Josie, her father’s sister, is often the victim of Mother’s attacks.  When Josie starts dating Daralynn’s mother’s competition, things really heat up.  But, there is something suspicious about “Uncle Clem,” Josie’s new beaux, and Daralynn’s investigation might just prove to be the thing her family needs to pull them back together.

If you enjoyed Regarding the Fountain by Klise, you won’t be disappointed by this sweet narration.  Another great book about family perseverance in the face of tragedy is Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine

 

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

mysterious howlingThe Mysterious Howling (Book 1)

by Maryrose Wood

The book begins with Penelope Lumley, a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, on a train headed to her first job.  Miss Lumley is a teacher and governess; she is especially excited (and nervous) about this first job at Ashton Place.  Her interview with the lady of the house goes quite well and she is hired on the spot, even though they were often interrupted by some mysterious howling from outside. The noise, she is surprised to find out, was being made by the children she has been hired to teach.  It turns out the master of the house had found these children while hunting and until now they had literally been raised by wolves.  Many would run away from such a daunting task, but Miss Lumley is not only optimistic, she is determined to do a good job for these “three waifs;”  their predicaments are often funny, and their story is sweetly told.

Incorrigible-210x300The Hidden Gallery (Book 2)

by Maryrose Wood

This sequel is even more exciting than the first book.  Miss Lumley suggests that she might take the children, who had been raised by wolves until Miss Lumley arrived, to London to visit Miss Mortimer, her former headmistress from the Swanburne Academy.  Lady Constance, who has been terribly bored and out-of-sorts because the house at Ashton Place has still not been completely repaired after the children destroyed it while chasing a squirrel in the previous story, is delighted and decides to move the entire household to London for a spell.  A number of suspicious adventures follow, and Miss Lumley and the children narrowly escape danger while trying to unravel the mystery of the children’s condition and other strange goings on about London.
Another difficult-to-put-down sequel is sure to follow.

 


The Unknowns

Monday, February 7th, 2011

unknownsby Benedict Carey,    259 pages,   Grades 6-8

Until now living in Folsom Adjacent, a trailer park bordering the Folsom Power Plant on a circular island, has been pretty boring. In fact, Diaphanta, a.k.a. Lady Di, and Tamir al-Khwarizmi, a.ka. Tom Jones, had nothing to do but work on trying to pass math and stay out of the way of the bullies until people in their community start to disappear.The Crotona police don’t seem to be doing anything, so when their friend and math tutor vanishes from her trailer leaving behind a clue Lady Di and Tom Jones decide to see if they can solve the puzzle and save their teacher.Di and Tom, and eventually a few other allies, follow a series of math clues through the tunnels under Adjacent and battle adolescent and grown-up bullies trying to save their friend and the dirty little town that is their home.

This book will satisfy fans of Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer, Trenton Lee Stewart’s Mysterious Benedict Society, or anyone who enjoys puzzling out math problems from different points of view.

Closed for the Season

Monday, January 17th, 2011

closed for the seasonMary Downing Hahn, 182 pages  Grades 5-8

Logan is unhappy to have to move to a new city.  He knows his family’s new house is a fixer-upper, but he isn’t prepared for the wreck they find or the annoying kid next door.  Logan also finds that his parents were hiding the fact that the previous owner died in the house.  It turns out that his parents weren’t informed of the whole story…  Her murder remains a mystery and it seems that the answer might be found in the creepy, over-grown, abandoned amusement park nearby.

Check out the author’s video trailer – Closed for the Season

Connections:  For other recent, creepy tales by the same author, try reading All the Lovely Bad Ones, Deep and Dark and Dangerous, and The Old Willis Place.  Other favorite scary, mystery writers include: Lois Duncan, Joan Lowry Nixon and Barbara Brooks Wallace.

Boom

Monday, November 29th, 2010

boom cover UKby Mark Haddon, 195 pages.                   Science-Fiction Mystery.

Jimbo’s sister, Becky,  tries to scare him into thinking he is about to be kicked out of school, so Jimbo and Charlie bug the teachers’ room with walkie talkies to find out if it could be true.  Instead of finding anything out about Jimbo,  they catch two of their teachers speaking a strange language, and it isn’t a human language!

The boys are determined to solve the mystery, and when none of their other tactics yield answers, the boys decide to sneak into Mrs. Pearse’s house. This a big mistake; now they know too much.  They are sure aliens are after them, but their families think they are crazy, and then Charlie disappears!

What would you do if your best friend might have been abducted by aliens?  Go after him, of course.  Jimbo and his sister Becky are on their own in the wilds of Scotland trying to save Charlie, and maybe a lot more than that!

For other crazy alien stories try:  Nosepickers from Outer Space by Gordon Korman, or The Doom Machine, by Mark Teague

The Danger Box

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

danger boxBy Blue Balliett, 306 pages  mystery for Grades 5-8

Zoomy is legally blind, but he can see things if he holds them close up.  He loves to read  and play games on the computer, and he also loves to investigate and collect things.

He arrived on his grandparents’ front step when he was a newborn baby.  They love him and take him in;  they know their son, Zoomy’s father, can’t take care of a baby, because he is running wild; an alcoholic who is always in a lot of trouble with the law.

Zoomy’s life is going along just fine until the summer his dad shows up in a stolen truck and dumps a stolen box in their garage.  His father’s mysterious  appearance is the beginning of Zoomy’s life spiraling out of control.  First, his grandparents let him investigate the contents of the stolen box, then his dangerous dad threatens Zoomy while he is alone at the library,  then his grandparents are visited by a mysterious stranger, and finally there is a big fire at his grandparents’ shop that doesn’t seem like an accident.

What will happen to Zoomy? Could it all come down to the contents of the stolen box?

If you enjoy this book you might also like:  A Dog for Life, by L.S. Matthews, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon, or  The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly.

The Alchemyst

Friday, September 24th, 2010

the-alchemyst-book-coverBy Michael Scott – p. 375  – Grade 6-9 – fantasy

Michael Scott is a professor of mythology and was inspired by the TRUE  story of Nicholas Flamel.  He was actually a real person!  He was born in Paris on September 28, 1330, and buried 1418, but the tomb is empty! Thus begins the myth, or history, of the alchemyst, Nicholas Flamel, immortal and still alive in today?

The Alchemyst begins in modern day New York City; teenage twins Sophie and Josh have moved there  for the summer.   The brother works in a bookstore  for Nick Flemming (name sound familiar?) and the sister works at a cafe across the street.  Right away the bookstore is blown up by mud people and a menacing character named Dr. John Dee.  When Dee and his muddy henchmen storm into the bookstore, Josh is watching from a hiding place.  Dee grabs Flamel’s wife, Perry, and almost makes off with the most powerful book of magic, but Josh manages to grab a few key pages before he and Mr. Flemming have to escape the explosion.   Flamel believes Josh and Sophie might be the twins of the prophecy, so he wants to keep them close in the hopes of finding his precious wife and the stopping Dee from destroying the world as we know it.   From the moment the bookstore explodes Josh and Sophie are on a roller coaster adventure, full of magical, mythical creatures and frightening beasts.  Sequels The Magician and The Sorceress continue the perilous adventure.

Connections:  Other adventure fantasies The Lightning Thief series, by Rick Riordan, Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling, The Alchemist’s Cat, by Robin Jarvis

The Brain Finds a Leg

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Brain-Finds-a-Leg-Coverby Martin Chatterton    p. 212    Grades: 6-8

Farfetched but fun!   The Brain does find a leg.  It used to belong to Biff Manly, a seventeen-year-old surfer, who has been found dead at the bottom of a quarry.  Theophilus Brain, a thirteen-year-old self-described genius and Sherlock Holmes disciple, has figured out that a saltwater crocodile (who thinks he’s a dog) severed the leg and hid it underwater.  The crocodile is just the first of list of bizarre-behaving Australian wildlife who show up in this zany science fiction mystery which includes koalas that attack in gangs, possums  that steal SUVs, kangaroos that rob supermarkets and whales that toss tourist boats.  The Brain enlists Sheldon McGlone as his sidekick, and the two are fast on the trail of the murderer and the secret to what’s making the animals act so strangely.

Connections:  Other creepy creature stories include The Cryptid Hunters, The Underneath, and Loch.

The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan: An Enola Holmes Mystery

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

peculiar pink fanby Nancy Springer.  p. 181  Grades 6-8

Fans of feisty, nonconformist Enola Holmes will enjoy this fourth installment in the Victorian mystery series.  Sixteen-year-old Lady Cecily has been kidnapped and is being forced into an arranged marriage.  Enola, the fourteen-year-old much younger sister of Sherlock Holmes, is trying to locate and rescue the poor girl while avoiding being captured herself by  older brothers Sherlock and Mycroft, who do not approve of her independent ways.  Disguises, humor, and high jinks abound.

Connections:  The Case of the Missing Marquess; The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline are titles in this series by Nancy Springer.  Other mystery series with strong female sleuths include:  Grace Cavendish by Patricia Finney; Herculeah Jones by Betsy Byars; Sammy Keyes by Wendelin Van Draanen;  and Gilda Joyce by Armstrong.  For a more challenging read, try The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King, which introduces fourteen-year-old Mary Russell and another great series based on Sherlock Holmes or read the Arthur Conan Doyle short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes himself.

The Entomological Tales of Augustus T. Percival: Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

6277972by Dene Low.  p. 196    Grades 5-8

What a funny, frothy farce!  Set in Victorian England, this improbable mystery concerns sixteen-year-old Petronella who is about to have her London debut when her guardian Uncle Augustus swallows a giant beetle and develops an insatiable hunger for all insects.  The story begins at Petronella’s sixteenth birthday party on her large country estate where her uncle swallows the bug, two of her celebrity guests disappear, and we meet the romantic Lord James Sinclair.  Filled with Petronella’s witty observations and banter, lots of slapstick, luscious language,and some romantic possibilities, this books is a delight to read.

Connections:  If you enjoy this book, try the short stories and novels by P.G. Wodehouse such as How Right You Are, Jeeves, Carry on, Jeeves, and Leave It to Psmith.

The London Eye Mystery

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

londoneyeby Siobhan Dowd,  p. 323  Grades 5-8

Ted loves the weather, listening to forecasts and tracking changes, but he wasn’t sure that he was going to like having his aunt (called Hurricane Glo by his father) and his cousin come for a visit.When Ted’s cousin, Salim, disappeared from the ferris wheel-like London Eye, Ted initially came up with 8 theories about what could have happened to him, including the more mundane, we missed him getting out, to the outrageous possibilities of a time-warp or Salim spontaneously combusting (Ted’s favorite).Salim’s mother and Ted’s parents are frantic with worry, and don’t listen to Ted’s ideas about where he could have gone.His older sister, Kat, does listen, and together they try to use the available clues (pictures in Salim’s camera and a souvenir photo) to solve the mystery.

Connections:  Other books that have characters with Asperger’s syndrome or Autism include:  Rules by Cynthia Lord, The Very ordered existence of Merilee Marvelous by Suzanne Crowley, and Al Capone does my shirts by Gennifer Choldenko.

Kaleidoscope Eyes

Monday, September 14th, 2009

kaleidoscopeby Jen Bryant.  p. 257  Grades 5-8

It’s summer vacation and what could be better than sneaking out at night to look for buried treasure with your two best friends?!  After thirteen-year-old Lyza’s grandfather dies, she finds an envelope in his attic marked “For Lyza ONLY.”  It containis three maps, a key, and a letter with rather crypic directions which lead Lyza, Malcolm and Carolann on an adventure to find pirate William Kidd’s buried treasure.  Set in 1968, this novel is told in verse against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the cultural revolution of the sixties.

Connections:   The Voyage of the Arctic Tern by Hugh Montgomery is another pirate adventure in verse. For more books on pirates, try Sea Queens : Women Pirates Around the World by Jane Yolen, Piracy & Plunder : a Murderous Business by Milton Meltzer, Piratica by Tanith Lee, Bloody Jack by Carolyn Meyer, Voyage of Plunder by Michele Torrey, and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Masterpiece

Monday, April 27th, 2009

masterpieceby Elise Broach, p.292 – Grades 4-8

Marvin (a beetle and the narrator of the story) lives under the sink in the house in NYC where James lives with his mother,  step-father and baby brother.  Marvin remains hidden with his family until one day he uses ink from James’ new pen and ink set to make the boy a birthday drawing.  Their growing friendship and Marvin’s drawing talent lead the two to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and into a mystery around some missing Albrecht Durer drawings.

Connection:  The talented bug is remniscent of The Cricket in Times Square, and the mystery surrounding the art brings a couple of books to mind: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and  Chasing Vermeer.  –CRW