Literary Genres: Mystery

Bailey, Linda.  HOW CAN A BRILLIANT DETECTIVE SHINE IN THE DARK?
    Tonawanda, NY:  Kids Can Press, 2003.  200p.   1-55074-896-3  $14.95 hb;
    1-55074-750-9 $4.95 pbk;   Gr. 3-6    J FIC

    This title is nnumber six in the Stevie Diamond Mystery Series.  Thirteen year old Stevie - short for Stephanie - and her detective partner, Jesse, are involved in a family myster.  Uncle Archie has returned from forty-five years in Europe, prompting a family reunion.  Hints of a hidden cave and lost gold make Uncle Archie suspect.  Maybe, he is not even Archie.
    This book has all the elements to entice young readers:   laugh-out-loud humor, a myster, the dangerous cave, the valuable hold, and charming characters.  Library purchase is recommended.
    Linda Cooley, Director, L'Anse School/Public Library

Bailey, Linda.  WHAT'S A SERIOUS DETECTIVE LIKE ME DOING IN
    SUCH A SILLY MOVIE?
 Tonawanda, NY:  Kids Can Press, 2003.  192p.  
    1-55074-926-9  $14.95 hb; 1-55074-922-6  $4.95 pbk;    Gr. 3-6   J FIC

    Thirteen year old Stevie - short for Stephanie - and her detective pal, Jesse, are hired as extras in a movie production.  However, an ongoing series of suspicious accidents may halt production.  Stevie and Jesse use all their detective skills to list possible suspects and solve the mystery of the plagued movie.
    This is number seven in the Stevie Diamond Mystery Series.  The "who-dunnit" will keep young mystery lovers interested, the antics and humor are hilarious, and these same readers will easily identify with the charming characters.  Library purchase is recommended.
    Linda Cooley, Director, L'Anse School/Public Library

Bracegirdle, P.J..  SINISTER SCENES. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. 314p.
            ISBN: 978-1-4169-3420-2 hb. $15.99    Gr. 5-8    JUV

            SINISTER SCENES is part of "The Joy of Spooking" trilogy. Spooking is overrun by a movie crew that has come to Spooking to shoot a horrow movie. When the movie's young star goes missing, Joy Wells replaces her on the set. Joy believes her life is about to change dramatically, especially when her famous costar delivers a horrifying, unscripted performance. As the novel draws to an end, the true story behind the town of Spooking is finally revealed. Readers will enjoy the suspense and surprise ending.
            Joyce Hoskins, L'Anse School Public Library, LíAnse, MI

Cushman, Doug. THE MYSTERY OF KING KARFU.   Illus. by author.  New York:
    HarperCollins, 1996. 32p.   0-06-024797-5; lib.bdg., $14.89.   0-06-024796-7; hb.,
    $14.95  0-06-35032; pb., $5.95    95-31064   Gr. K-3  E

    Seymour Sleuth is the world's greatest detective. His latest case--The Missing Stone Chicken. This petrified foul belonged to the ancient Egyptian pharaoh, King Karfu. Seymour keeps a casebook that captures every step. He interviews suspects, examines clues and puts thepieces together to find out whodunit? However, there is a secret code as well as King Karfu's LostTreasure that wait to be discovered by sharp-eyed readers. Author/illustrator Cushman's latest picture book about this intrepid detective exemplifies cleverness, entertainment and imagination all rolled into one.
    Patricia Fittante; Children's Librarian, Escanaba Public Library.

Hale, Bruce.  THE BIG NAP.  New York: Harcourt, Inc. 2001. 119p.
    0-15-202521-9; hb., $14.00   Gr.  3-5    FIC

    Chet Grecko, Private Eye.  That's the name.  Wanna see the badge?  Lucky for  the students at Emerson Hicky Elementary that Detective Chet is on the job or all the young folk might be turned into zombies.  With the help of Natalie, a bird, and Waldo, an unidentified furball; Chet meets and defeats a rascally weasel.  Hale is heavy into puns and double meanings which may go over the heads of some of the young readers, but the amusing animals, so aptly created in black-and-white drawings and scattered throughout, will amuse and enthuse.  The big question is--Can Chet save the school?  Or will he and Natalie be the next in line at the chalkboard?  Sheesh.....(quote Chet)...you'll never know unless you read it!
    Patricia J. Fittante; Children’s Librarian, Escanaba Public Library, Escanaba, MI

Holm, Jennifer L.  THE CREEK.  New York:  HarperCollins Publisher, Inc., 2003.  232p.
    0-06-000133-X hb.  $15.99   Gr. 7-10   YA

    Holm, Author of several historical novels about girls entering puberty, tries her hand with a contemporary novel, adding trappings of a creepy thriller that pushes the story well beyond the child-plays-detective theme found in most youth mysteries.  Penny, almost 13, is content to spend her summer hanging out with the boys on her block.  But this year, their games are charged by rumors about Caleb Devlin, a legend on Mockingbird Lane, who terrorized an entire town before he got sent away.  When pets begin vanishing in the neighborhood, it seems obvious to most residents that Caleb is behind the disappearances.  Penny's dreams are haunted by visions of this young man who both fascinates and repels her.  As she and her friends investigate, they have numerous close scrapes that go beyond the safety of a juvenile mystery novel.  All the threads do not come together to weave a believable tale.  Penny's sexual awakening and her reaction to death leave readers with doubts about her character development in the story  It left this reader unsettled.
    Lynette Suckow, Peter White Public Library, Marquette, MI

Hornik, Laurie Miller. THE SECRETS OF MS. SNICKLE'S CLASS. Illus. by Debbie Tilley. 
    New York: Clarion, 2001. 135p.   0-628-03435-8; hb., $15.00  Gr. 3-5      FIC

    What kid, in lieu of tests in a classroom, wouldn't like to substitute them with pizza-topping spelling contests and class trips to find runaway desks?  Most would.  In Ms. Snickle's bizarre classroom, this off-the-wall teacher has a unique way of teaching; no tests or homework.  However, she does insist on one principle.  "No telling secrets!"   Ms. Snickles recognizes the importance of secrets and keeping them, and announces "Secrets are precious and sometimes a bit fragile, so be careful!"  The biggest secret of all is that of Ms. Snickle.  After school is dismissed, she pushes a button and the schoolroom turns into her apartment, complete with her cat, Lacey.  The class busybody, makes it her mission in life to learn the secrets of all her classmates and tells all!  However; when she learns Ms. Snickles' secret, she soon discovers that secrets are definitely made to be kept.  This wildly imaginative and humorous novel, absurd though it may be, will bring snorts and Snickles!
    Patricia J. Fittante; Children’s Librarian, Escanaba Public Library, Escanaba, MI

Labatt, Mary A.  A WEEKEND AT THE GRAND HOTEL.  Tonawanda, NY:
    Kids Can  Press, 2001.  104p.  1-555074-883-1; hb., $12.95   Gr. 2-5     FIC

    Although Samantha, a sheepdog, looks like a walking mop, she has the aspirations of being the best dog detective this side of the Mason Dixon Line.  The only thing holding the cantankerous canine back is her unsatisfying menu of dog food.  As the reader soon discovers, Sam much prefers apple pie with shrimp, whipped cream on a bacon burger, or a butter tart topped with sardines.  Sniffing is her game so when her dog-sitter/next door neighbor, Jennie cons her parents into taking Sam along on a vacation to the Grand Hotel the fun begins.  The suitcases were not even unpacked yet when Sam begins her snooping which in turn plants the protagonist right in the middle of an exciting mystery.  Sam is able to communicate with Jennie by putting thoughts into her head, so mystery buffs who have always wanted to talk to the animals will love the craziness of Sam as well as the surprise ending.  Arf. Woof. Yip!  (In dog language that means “You must read it to find out!”
    Pat Fittante; Children’s Librarian, Escanaba Public Library, Escanaba, MI

Lerangis, Peter.  THE 39 CLUES: THE SWORD THIEF.  New York, NY:  Scholastic, 
     2009.  158p.  ISBN: 978-0-545-06043-1 hb. $12.99     Gr. 4-8     Juv.
     Can you imagine trying to carry Samurai swords unnoticed through airport security? This is exactly how 14 year old 
Amy and 11 year old Dan Cahill begin their latest adventure. Their cherished grandmother, Grace, recently passed away 
leaving all of the family heirs in a race for the 39 clues. These clues lead to potential world power.  The brother and sister,
along with their au pair Nellie, have discovered the first two clues already. They are initially tricked by their KGB secret 
agent cousins, Natalie and Ian, whom they later team up with in Japan.  They also team up with their wealthy Uncle 
Alistair Oh who helps them on their way. They continue to explore secret libraries and forgotten caves in search of the 
next clue.   At each turn they are reminded not to trust anyone, especially family. They are left for dead by their cousins 
and were left to believe that Uncle Alister had died in a cave implosion. This story will continually keep you guessing to 
igure out the next clue along with the sibling team. Follow along with your own adventure on the companion website. 
      Lisa Wallace, teacher and mother of five, Tahquamenon Area Librar, Newberry, MI

Levy, Elizabeth.  A MAMMOTH MIX-UP.  Illus. by George Ulrich.  Brian and Pea Brain
    Mystery Series.  New York:  Harper, 1995.  87p.  $12.95  0-06-024814-9; hb.,   $12.95
    0-06-0248157; lib.bd., $12.80   0-06-442043-4;  pb., $3.95    94-47960   Gr. 2-4    FIC

     This mystery with a villain and a brother-sister relationship that enhance the plot is the third in the series.  The children discredit a false scientist as they learn about the wooly mammoth for their science fair entry at the science museum.  Black and white sketches add to the action. Recommended for ages 7-10.   Pair this book with Aliki's WILD AND WOOLY MAMMOTHS. (HarperCollins, 1995).
     Virginia Foreman, retired English teacher,  lifelong reader of books about paleontology

Patron, Susan.  BEHIND THE MASKS.  Dear America/The Diary of Angeline Reddy.  
     New York; Scholastic Inc; 2012. 293p. ISBN:978-0-545-30437-5  hb.$12.99  Gr. 4-6   Juv.

     When fourteen year old Angie and her mother are informed that her father, a well-known lawyer, has been murdered, but there is no body and the details surrounding the murder are sketchy at best.  With help from her friends, Angie begins a quest to find her father, who she believes is alive. Why has he mysteriously disappeared?  Patron researches each entry in her historical series well, giving her readers a view into the past, while crafting a good story. This entry takes place in a wild west gold mining town in Bodie California. The description wild, suits Bodie well. It has saloons, vigilantes, greed, prostitutes, and prejudice against the Chinese immigrants who were coming into California, with a ghost to add to the intrigue. Fans will be happy with this entry in the Dear America series.  
     Barbara Ward, Retired Childrenís Librarian, Dickinson County Library

Santopolo, Jill.  ALEC FLINT, SUPER SLEUTH: THE NINA, THE PINTA, AND THE 
         VANISHING TREASURE
. Illus. by C.B. Canga.   New York: Orchard Books, 2008. 183p.  
         ISBN: 978-0-439-90352-3 hb. $15.99.        Gr. 4-6    Juv.
    

           This is a very fun tale about a young boy who has decided to be a super sleuth and solve crimes.  Alec's father is a police officer and has been brought in to solve the theft of some pieces in a "Christopher Columbus" exhibit.  Alec has been studying Columbus in school and notices that some things in the exhibit don't seem to fit with what he learned.  He and his new sleuth friend, Gina, decide to solve the crime together, along with the case of the missing art teacher, which ends up being connected.  This is a very interesting tale that also teaches the children something about the history of Christopher Columbus without being too "teachy" in the process.
          Melissa Coyne, Substitute Teacher, Tahquamenon Area Public Library

Saunders, Susan.  THE CHILLING TALE OF CRESCENT POND, Book 8.  Illus. by 
    Jane Manning.  Black Cat Club series.  New York:  Harper Trophy, 1998.  81p. 
    0-06-442072-8,  pb., $3.95. Demco/Turtleback Books,   0606132058.  Gr. 1-5    FIC

    In this series, a group of friends have formed the Black Cat Club to find the ghosts that seem to be plentiful in their town.  Similar to the popular Goosebumps series, pre-teens should find these stories readable and exciting.  In this chapter book a mysterious force is haunting Crescent Pond which has recently been opened for skating 100 years after Alice Foster fell through the ice and subsequently died from pneumonia.  Alice's ghost, pesky but helpful, takes several of the club members back in time to discover who is haunting the pond and why.  Will they be able to prevent a looming disaster in the present?
    Carolyn Anderson, retired elementary teacher;Member of the L’Anse (MI) Public Library Advisory Board

Vande Velde, Vivian.  THERE’S A DEAD PERSON FOLLOWING MY SISTER AROUND. 
    San Diego, Harcourt Brace, 1999.  143p.   0-15-202100-0; hb., $16.00.     Gr. 5-9   FIC

    Eleven-year-old Ted suddenly finds that the house he’s living in is haunted.  He finds that his little sister Vicki has an invisible friend, Marella, who is afraid of a bad lady who comes through the walls of her bedroom.  Ted starts to have nightmares about going through a house with corpses in each room and finally finding himself in a room filling with water.  Ted, of course, starts to research the history of the house that was built before the Civil War.  This is a fun read with good character development, lots of twists and turns, great humor and an intriguing ending.  It’s about family relationships, the Underground Railroad, courage and even revenge.  This is a good addition to any middle school library.
    Barbara Berry; retired school library-media specialist

Warner, Gertrude Chandler.  THE MYSTERY ON BLIZZARD MOUNTAIN.  Boxcar
    children mysteries series  Morton Grove, IL:  Albert Whitman, 2001.  121p.  0-8075-5493-6;
    lib.bdg.,  $13.95    0-8075-5494-4; pb. $3.95    Gr. 2-5  FIC

    The Alden children, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny, climb Blizzard Mountain with Maris, a park ranger who is marking a new trail.  The elements of mystery on their trip are a dead battery, dirt dumped in the cabin, Stagecoach George’s ghost, a hidden treasure, having someone steal part of their food and Henry’s boots, disappearing tracks, and mysterious noises.  There are two suspects.  Carola didn’t want anyone building new trails and Bobcat who went back to get more food and didn’t return.   The culprit is someone connected to a recent museum break-in.  Clues are liberally sprinkled throughout, worn hiking boots, a piece of a purple velvet cape, an undercover detective.
    In the first chapter, readers learn that the children are the original “Boxcar Children,” Book umber 86 tales place after they have been found by their grandfather.  The series was first written by Chandler who died in 1979.  The books aren’t great literature but provide beginning readers with easy and fun practice.
    Mary Ann Paulin; Director, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Warner, Gertrude Chandler. THE SPY GAME. Illus. Robert Papp. The Boxcar Children Series.
            Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Company, 2009. 103p.    Gr 2-4   Juv. FIC

            As the Boxcar children help a neighbor remove stones from a walkway, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny uncover letters carved into stepping stones.  The riddle determined from the letters sends the mystery lovers on another adventure of making sense of a mysterious old photo, a hope chest, and a Greek myth.  Other surprises pop up as the story progress but it all ends in a neat package.
             Jolene Hetherington, Teacher, Munising School Public Library

Yolen, Jane and Martin H. Greenberg, eds.  THE HAUNTED HOUSE:  A COLLECTION
    OF ORIGINAL STORIES.
  Illus. by Doron Ben-Ami.  New York:  HarperCollins, 1995. 88p.
    0-06-024468-2; lib.bdg. $14.89   0-06-024467-4; hb., $13.95      Gr. 3-6       J  FIC

     If you have never believed in ghosts you might want to visit the "Haunted House."  It is a clever format that was instrumented by Yolen and Greenberg when they created this collection of seven spooky stories--each one written by a different author and each story taking place in one of seven different rooms of a haunted house.  You are invited to come in to a house that creaks and groans---where there may be lights that blink off and on, or where things disappear.  It all starts in the cellar and traverses the house room by room (each author writes a story set in a different room) and it all ends in an attic Train Room.  Ben-Ami adds to the fun with realistic shadowy illustrations that compliment the text.  The chapters are short---but long enough to keep the shivers coming.  These two authors have assembled a creepy collection of stories that will leave the reader wondering just what that noise really was---in the next room!
    Patricia Fittantte, Children's Librarian,  Escanaba Public Library

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