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The Harlem Charade

Title: The Harlem Charade
Author: Natasha Tarpley
Series: N/A
Recommended for: 3rd- 8th Grade
Pages: 297 pages
Call Number/Link:  J FICTION TARPLEY, N.

Synopsis: Seventh-graders Jin, Alexandra, and Elvin come from very different backgrounds and circumstances, but they all live in Harlem, and when Elvin’s grandfather is attacked they band together to find out who is responsible–and the search leads them to an enigmatic artist whose missing masterpieces are worth a fortune, and into conflict with an ambitious politician who wants to turn Harlem into an historic amusement park.

This book is rich in culture.  We have three main characters that come from different backgrounds, that come together by chance.  Jin likes to watch people that come into her grandparents bodega. She catches Alexandra taping Met passes on food items.  Jin now has a mystery to solve to find out why. The three main characters are strong, kind-hearted teenagers.  Throughout the story they learn some history of Harlem artist from the 1960’s and come to appreciate the community.  It is a wonderful way to get children to look around their own communities.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2017 in Juv, Mysteries

 

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Into the Lion’s Den

into-the-lions-denTitle: Into the Lion’s Den
Author: Linda Fairstein
Series: Devlin Quick Mysteries
Recommended for: 3rd- 6th Grade
Pages: 312 pages
Call Number/Link:  J FICTION FAIRSTEIN, L.

Synopsis: Someone has stolen a page from a rare book in the New York Public Library. At least, that’s what Devlin’s friend Liza thinks she’s seen, but she can’t be sure. Any other kid might not see a crime here, but Devlin Quick is courageous and confident, and she knows she has to bring this man to justice—even if it means breathlessly racing around the city to collect evidence. But who is this thief? And what could the page—an old map—possibly lead to? With her wits, persistence, and the help of New York City’s finest (and, okay, a little bit of help from her police commissioner mother, too), Devlin and her friends piece the clues together to uncover a mystery that’s bigger than anyone expected—and more fun, too.

Devlin is a great strong character who loves books and wants to show that she will make a great detective.  It is a great plot, but I felt like there was a lot of explaining, that was not necessary to the solving of the mystery.  There is a lot of talking trying to decide what to do and how to do things, and a little action.  I am going to try the next one to see if it gets better.  I thinks kids may like it and maybe they won’t find all the explanations unnecessary.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2017 in Juv, Mysteries

 

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Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer

theodore-booneTitle: Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer
Author: John Grisham
Series: Theodore Boone
Recommended for: 4th grade and up
Pages: 263 pages
Call Number/Link:  TEEN FICTION GRISHAM, J.

Synopsis: With two attorneys for parents, thirteen-year-old Theodore Boone knows more about the law than most lawyers do. But when a high profile murder trial comes to his small town and Theo gets pulled into it, it’s up to this amateur attorney to save the day. 

Theo is a good kid who likes to help others. He happens to know the law because of his parents both being lawyers. So kids come up to him with their parents problems and ask for help.  That felt real unrealistic to me, but this is fiction.  In this book Theo is approached by a kid that knows a persons that is an eyewitness to a huge murder trial. This would be the only eyewitness to the murder, but the trail is already underway and Theo does know what to do.  So most of the book he is trying to figure out what to do, while random cases come to him.  This was an ok read for me.  I was expecting a lot more out of John Grisham.  The whole time I felt like I was getting lectured.  I may try reading the next to see if this first book was just setting the stage for the next in the series.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2016 in Mysteries, Teen

 

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The Lost Twin

lost twin 1_Title:The Lost Twin

Author: Sophie Cleverly

Series:Scarlet and Ivy

Pages: 290 pages

Recommended for: 3rd – 6th Grade

Synopsis:After her troublemaking twin, Scarlet, vanishes from Rookwood Boarding School, shy Ivy tries to track her down, using pieces of Scarlet’s journal carefully hidden all over the school for Ivy to find.

Ivy is invited to go to Rookwood Boarding School to take her twin sisters spot at the school.  Ivy doesn’t want to go, but isn’t given a choice.  Once, she gets their the headmistress tells her she has to pretend that she is Scarlet. Ivy knows something is up, but not sure what to do.  She stumbles pieces of her sisters diary and starts to piece together what happened.

This is set in the 1930, but really the only thing that sticks out as different from modern times is that corporal punishment is still allowed.  It is an interesting story and I would read the next in the series, but it was not a book I couldn’t put down. It is even paced and well written.  I like that Ivy is a strong main character, even thought she doesn’t thing she really is.

 

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2016 in Historical, Juv, Mysteries

 

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Zero Day

Zero DayTitle: Zero Day
Author: Jan Gangsei
Series: N/A
Recommended for: 7th Grade and Up
Pages: 359 pages
Call Number/Link:  TEEN FICTION GANGSEI, J.

Synopsis: Eight years after being kidnapped Addie Webster, now sixteen, resurfaces under mysterious circumstances, significantly changed, and her childhood best friend, Darrow Fergusson, is asked by a national security advisor to spy on her to uncover whether she is a threat to her father’s Presidency or the nation.

This is a well written story that has many layers. I like that at each chapter you get a little bit more of the story. For the most part Addie is the narrator, but other characters get to tell their part of the story.  I spent most of the time trying to figure out who took her and for what reason.  This is Jan Gangsei’s first novel, and I look forward to see what else she comes up with.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2016 in Mysteries, Teen

 

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Scarlett Undercover

23197297Title: Scarlett Undercover
Author: Jennifer Latham 
Series: N/A
Recommended for: 6th grade and Up
Pages: 320
Call Number/Link:  Teen Fiction Latham, J.

Synopsis: Meet Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic, kick-butt, Muslim American heroine, ready to take on crime in her hometown of Las Almas. When a new case finds the private eye caught up in a centuries-old battle of evil genies and ancient curses, Scarlett discovers that her own family secrets may have more to do with the situation than she thinks — and that cracking the case could lead to solving her father’s murder.

My thoughts: First, let me say YAY for diversity, because YAY! It’s awesome to see a Muslim main character. Other than that, this one falls into the okay category for me. It’s fast paced and pulls you in right away, but then takes this sort weird supernaturally/mythological turn. By the end, I’m not sure if I should believe the legend that her family and many other for years and years and years have been a part of or if it’s simply the madness of an overzealous cult. I lean more towards the first, but still I would have enjoyed it had it not added in that craziness. Also, it seemed super convenient how everything ended up.

Scarlett herself is a great character. She has a lot of sass and spunk, but sometimes the way she though/spoke drove me insane (think old time detective stories). The side characters, especially her sister and a friend or two, held a lot of potential, but felt kind of one-dimensional. I just wanted MORE, but never really got it. Even the love/romance just sort of felt there.

 

If you can get pass the flaws, this is one worth checking out. While it’s a stand alone at the moment, there is room to make this into a series. Should that happen, I would totally pick it up as there is quite a bit of potential to tap into.

Read-a-likes:
Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday
Dance of the Shadows by Yelena Black (If they want the supernatural spin mystery)

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2015 in Mysteries, Realistic, Teen

 

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Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile

Title: Mystery on Museum Mile51FWNHqi5TL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
Author: Marcia Wells
Series: Eddie Red, Undercover
Recommended for: 3rd-7th grade
Pages: 240
Call Number/Link:  J FICTION WELLS, M. 

Synopsis:
Sixth grader Edmund Xavier Lonnrot, codename “Eddie Red,” has a photographic memory and talent for drawing anything he sees. When the NYPD is stumped by a mastermind art thief, Eddie becomes their secret weapon to solve the case.

Review:
This book is your standard action packed mystery with engaging secondary characters and a slightly-nerdy protagonist.  He definitely doesn’t have it all together, which adds a bit of realism to a story about the NYPD hiring a 12 year old.  My favorite parts of the story were the curmudgeonly detective and Edmund’s father, a hulking man with a shaved head who is a bowtie-wearing librarian and loves obscure facts.  Points of interest are the very real danger (someone actually gets shot) and the fact that it centers on an African-American boy.  We are always looking for good multicultural fiction, especially with a male protagonist, and this fits the bill!  The sequel, Mystery in Mayan Mexico, is also out.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2015 in Adventure, Juv, Mysteries

 

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