Start Sleuthing with Early Chapter Book Mysteries

BookendsMystery Month 2015Lynn and Cindy: It is never too soon to introduce kids to sleuthing! Here are two new mystery books and one old favorite designed for newly independent readers. These fun books will start young readers on a life of crime—crime READING that is!

Lynn: Bruce Hale’s early chapter book, Big Bad Detective Agency (2015). It seems there has been a crime wave in Fairylandia. Someone trashed the Three Little Pigs’ house and they are demanding justice. The Big Bad Wolf, who prefers to be called Wolfgang, is arrested even though he swears he was reading a gardening book at the time. Wolfgang has been trying to reform and the only time he goes to the pigs’ house is to demand that the oompah music they are playing be turned down. OK—so he does think about pork chops now and then, but Wolfgang swears he didn’t do it.

detective Captain Kreplach, captain of the King’s Guard, is really busy guarding, so he gives the wolf one day to solve the case. Wolfgang has until midnight to find the real culprit or be thrown in the dungeon with nothing to eat but porridge! Talk about an incentive!

Wolfgang reluctantly allows Ferkel, the Fourth Little Pig, to help since he spotted an important clue. The unlikely partnership check out the many suspects right out of fairy tales—except the Brothers Grimm would never recognize these characters! Sweet Hansel and Gretel are really greedy, ruthless teenagers and Snow White and her staff of seven dwarves run the Hi Ho Diner. Kids will love the funny twist on familiar tales as Wolfgang and Ferkel solve the case and start the Big Bad Detective Agency.

Big Bad WolfCindy: My new title is a fractured fairy tale also featuring a wolf, but Dosh Archer’s Big Bad Wolf (2015) is a humorous spin on Little Red Riding Hood. In this version the wolf doesn’t meet the fate of the woodcutter, but an emergency room female doctor who discovers that his choking “urgency emergency” is not something stuck in his throat, but someone! A few chest squeezes later and Grandma pops out slippers first “damp and a bit chewed around the edges, but otherwise OK.” This is just one entry in the Urgency Emergency! series that spoofs other folk tales and nursery rhymes. Emerging readers familiar with the originals will enjoy the bizarre humor and twists of these tales. I wouldn’t recommend this ER for your emergencies!

Nate the GreatAnd, Mystery Month is a perfect time for a trip down mystery memory lane. When I saw the new paperback edition of last year’s Nate the Great mystery Where Are You? (2014) in a reviewer’s box, I couldn’t resist. Nate and his dog Sludge have been around for over 40 years. How is that possible? His young fans will enjoy this latest installment, but if you are a crazy-busy adult looking for escape from pressing duties, don’t miss this diversion. Nate doesn’t want to take on any of the pending cases being pressed on him. He says to Sludge, “We must escape.” Their plan involves a first stop at a disguise shop and the fun rolls on from there.

The last part of the book is a section of fun activities. My favorite? The creative directions for making a hideout from a refrigerator box. I think I’ll whip up my own hideout tonight, and a batch of pancakes, and then curl up inside with one of the enticing adult mysteries being recommended on the other Booklist Reader posts and avoid all of the “jobs” waiting for me.




About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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