November 10, 2009
Tween Tuesday started at GreenBeanTeenQueen's, check her out.
I recently read (read one and am finishing another) two tween mysteries from my library collection that I loved. The first was The Brixton Brother(s)The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett. This is the first in what I hope will be a series about a young sleuth named Steve Brixton who is obsessed with "The Bailey Brothers" fictional teenage detectives only loosely based on the Hardy Boys. (In fact one of my favorite parts of this book is the inside cover which shows Steve and his "chum" in several scenes of peril, similar to those other teen detectives books used to).
Steve gets mistaken as a detective while he is at his public library checking out a book that was on a watch list for a secret agent group called "The Librarians." How could you not love a group with that title? There is plenty of action and adventure and tongue in cheek references for any adults reading it. It's the kind of book that made me grin about something on every page. I emailed the author to gush about how much I loved his new book and character and he was gracious enough to e-mail back and informed me that he would be finishing the second one sometime soon! (As a bonus to hook in reluctant readers, you can show them the blurb on the front of the jacket which is from Jeff Kinney proclaiming the book to be a hit).
The second was The Red Blazer Girls by Michael Beil. This stars a trio of seventh grade girls (Sophie, Margaret and Rebecca) from a private school in New York (where a bright red blazer is part of the uniform). They become embroiled in a mystery after Sophie, the narrator, spies a ghost in a church that is next door to the school. Turns out it wasn't a ghost, but an old woman whose house is next to (or connected to) the church. She asks for their help in locating a book in their school's library that she is sure will lead to a present her father had left for her then-fourteen year old daughter shortly before he died (the daughter is now grown up and estranged from the old woman). The fun part about this book are the clues the girls keep finding. Today I had to pull out some paper to see if I could figure out one of the clues before I read the solution in the book! So, you know, it's interactive!
edit: also the more I read this the more I am amazed at how the grown up male author hit the tone and attitude of a barely teen girl so well. It is amazing.
I think this story will really appeal to 10-14 year old girls because the narrator has a great voice and the girls are working together to help each other out. As a more experienced adult reader I find my self worrying about which adult is going to betray them because I am certain it's going to happen, but I think such a twist will be a complete surprise to most younger, more innocent readers.
Both of the mysteries are fun reads and for early teen readers I highly recommend The Big Splash by Jack Ferraiolo. It is still the favorite mystery that I read this year.