The Maze of Bones

June 3, 2009

39-clues-maze-of-bonesFirst of all, my apologies for a lack of blogging last month.  I recently moved back to Illinois from Iowa, so things were/have been a little hectic.  I’ll be spending some time trying to catch up on my reading and blogging.  Now on to the book…

The Maze of Bones is the first book in the much-publicized The 39 Clues series.  It took me awhile to get around to it because I didn’t quite understand what it was all about, but I’m so glad I finally did.  In the first book, which is written by Rick Riordan, Amy and Dan Cahill attend their grandmother’s funeral and learn they, and several other people they didn’t even know were family, are listed in her will.  The will states that the heirs may either accept $1 million or pass and have the chance to follow clues to find the powerful secret of the Cahill family.  Amy and Dan choose to accept the clues and embark on a huge adventure.

The book was very enjoyable – adventurous, mysterious, and full of puzzles.  It reminded me a lot of The Westing Game (which was a GREAT thing since that’s my favorite book!) and a little bit of A Series of Unfortunate Events (which I also really enjoy).  At times, though, some of the scenes were difficult for me to envision because of how active the characters are in pursuing their clues.  Still, The Maze of Bones was a great, quick read, and I highly recommend it for middle grades, especially fans of The Westing Game or adventure or mystery books.  I can’t wait to get to the next books in the series!

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What Really Happened to Humpty?

April 22, 2009

humpty

In this new picture book by Jeanie Franz Ransom, Joe Dumpty (Humpty’s detective brother) sets out to prove that Humpty’s fall was no accident.  Kids will recognize lots of nursery-rhyme characters from Little Miss Muffet to the Three Little Pigs.  Adults will recognize the spoof of classic detectives.  The story, which has quite a bit of narration, includes mystery and crime, but not murder – Humpty is not dead, just broken (since all the King’s men can’t put him together).  However, the bright, full illustrations will help readers who may have trouble with lots of words.  All in all, this is a very fun book and would be great as a read-aloud.


The Secret of the Old Clock

January 8, 2009

After checking my local library, I was pleasantly surprised to see a fairly large Nancy Drew collection.  So naturally I decided I’d begin re-reading them…because I obviously don’t have enough other books on my to-read list.

I love Nancy Drew.  I used to read them when I was younger, I enjoyed (for the most part) re-reading this one, and I currently have The Hidden Staircase sitting on my nightstand.  However, this is a reprint of the 1930 original, and it includes racial stereotyping, female oppression, and antiquated vocabulary (“jaunt” for example?  I also made fun of “roadster” until my dad informed me it’s actually a type of car and not just a random term created to describe Nancy’s blue car).  Fortunately, a publishers’ note mentions this upfront in the hopes that readers won’t be too surprised and offput.

Despite these obvious blemishes, The Secret of the Old Clock is still a classic.  Nancy is a great role model:  intelligent, ambitious, kind-hearted.  Granted, she should probably be a bit safer — chasing after robbers who previously locked her in a closet and left her to starve without telling anyway is probably not the best idea.  In this first book in the series, there’s also no mention of George, Bess, or Ned.  Perhaps they show up later in the series.  I’ll find out soon.


The Demon of River Heights

May 16, 2008

This is the first book in the Nancy Drew Graphic Novel series. I was pretty excited when I picked it up since I always enjoyed reading Nancy Drew. Instead of being a recreation of the original first Nancy Drew book (The Secret of the Old Clock) this one is a modern story. I understand wanting to create contemporary characters for today’s young readers, but I missed the old Nancy, Bess, and George. The mystery was still there, though more technological with the use of cellphones and investigation of a filming crew’s disappearance. However, my least favorite aspect of the book: Modern Nancy Drew cannot remember to put gas in her car! I’m pretty sure Original Nancy Drew always remembered to fill up her blue roadster.

This is definitely worth a read – or maybe look since it’s a graphic novel and has more pictures than words. If this is how young readers today are introduced to Nancy Drew, it’s not a bad thing. I will be reading more.


Encyclopedia Brown

April 17, 2008

The first book in this series by Donald J. Sobol was released in 1963 but reissued in 1982, which allowed for a new generation of readers to meet the famous boy sleuth. The books center around a young boy who solves crimes in his hometown for customers during the summer when he runs a detective agency (only 25¢!) or for his father, the chief of police. Each book features 10 short mysteries for Encyclopedia and readers to solve and has a few reoccurring characters – Bugs Meany, the neighborhood bully who is often the reason for Encyclopedia’s many cases; and Sally Kimball, Encyclopedia’s feisty partner who has knocked out Bugs and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

I used to read this series when I was younger, and they are still enjoyable as an adult. Since the books were written in the ’60s, the language can be dated, but this usually just adds to the charm and humor. This series is definitely worth a try for fans of mysteries.