BOOKS FOR CHILDREN: How do you know what's good?

While there are many places (especially on the internet) where you can read book reviews, how do you really know if it's a good book or not when a single book might receive anywhere from one to five stars?
The answer: read the reviews of a book-addicted teacher librarian.

** The age recommendations are guidelines only; whether or not a certain book is suitable for a particular child depends on multiple factors, including their maturity, reading level, interests, and in some cases their experiences.
** While the ratings are largely based on my own personal appreciation/enjoyment of the book, they are also influenced by my experiences as a teacher and the potential attraction for the target-aged child (acknowledging that what one child may love, another may find exceptionally boring). A rating of 5 indicates the book is likely to be popular with the majority.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Series: Young and Yang (Middle Grade Fic)

AUTHOR: Kristen Kittscher (US)
PUBLISHED: HarperCollins ; 2013.
PAGES/ILL: ~370 pages.
SERIES: Young and Yang. The Wig in the Window ; The Tiara on the Terrace.

PLOT: (Book 1: The Wig in the Window)
Best friends, 7th graders Sophie Young and Grace Yang, love mysteries and have made a game out of spying on their neighbours. When they discover a bloody scene at the home of their bizarre middle-school counsellor, they are on the case to prove she is not what she seems. Soon the girls are breaking secret codes, being followed by a strange blue car, and tailing strangers. As the case heats up, they are under pressure, which threatens their friendship.

This is a really fun story for fans of The Secret Seven, The Famous Five, Encyclopaedia Brown, and Nancy Drew (and their parents would have likely liked Trixie Belden and the Hardy Boys). The age-range would target children who have long since moved on from the Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew series, but are not be ready for the full series featuring the older Nancy Drew.
The plot has little twists and more suspense than your average middle-grade mystery fiction.
Overall, I highly recommend this series. It would be an appropriate class read-aloud for Grades 4-6

For promoting it in school libraries, I would display this book (along with the others I've listed) together with articles about real-life child investigators, such as this one.

For more mystery and suspense books, check out the list from A Mighty Girl.

AGE: 9+.
GENRE: Detective and Mystery Fiction.
RATING: 4 1/2 - 5 stars.

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