Cora Flash and the Diamond of Madagascar a middle school mystery thats breath of fresh air in a quagmire of books being targeted to our young readers.
Do you remember the days when you would gather your friends up in main club house in the neighborhood, start handing out paper bags, notebooks, pencils magnifying glasses and give everyone the 411 on Mrs. Salendeski's missing cat? No? Seriously? You never had a great mystery you had to solve? I think I feel sorry for you! If you did, well go grab this series for you, for your kids, for your grandkids, for your local library!
Growing up I was constantly looking, perhaps even inventing just to have a mystery to investigate and solve. Constantly engrossed in one book or another there is one series that sticks out in my mind, Nancy Drew and of course the Hardy Boys. I am really lucky to have the full set of Nancy Drew my mother read as a girl and kept collecting to be able to pass on to her me. My Hardy Boys I liberated from my uncle's boyhood book collection.
(Later I moved on to be more concerned with reading the next Tiger Beat magazine than the next mystery. But you have to admit Shaun made things so much fun, and I never would smoke as a teen because of Shaun, so ... OH ya, we need to talk about Cora and solving mysteries! SORRY! I got distracted looking at Shaun...)
*clearing my throat*
Cora Flash is a bright, highly intelligent, polite and mature 11 year old. Her adventure starts the minute she boards the train on her way to see her Uncle. She has a cell phone, bag full of candy and an old fashion sense of adventure!
FIVE reasons why I give Cora Flash
LANGAUGE: Definitely age appropriate. The big problem with Young Adult books is they are no longer for young adults. They have sex, curse words and serious situations I, as a mom, do not want my kids reading about. They have enough serious issues to deal with just getting through a day at school to have a book give them something to confuse and worry them more. The worry for me is the middle age books are also moving forward in presenting kids with to much to soon. Cora Flash in no way does this. It says 9-12 and it means it. There are no curse words, not even veiled ones, no calumnious terms, it is a book targeted for kids on all fronts. I have to give this
FUN MYSTERY: Who doesn't love a good mystery! This is one of those great Whodunits. It has a mysterious stranger with a shiny metal brief case, a friendly grandma-like character with her friendly pet dog, a couple in love, a moody teenager, a quirky nervous fellow, and; instead of the butler, we have the conductor! Having elements that are familiar for kids, such as the phone, and adding the train which many kids are not familiar with create curiosity and a draw. By adding an air of mystery right off the bat kids will be wanting to read the book. It has all the elements of a grand mystery to solve. Any child ages of 9-12 will fall in love with Cora....and bug you to buy a cell phone and always send them to visit relatives with a huge bag of candy, fair warning!
GREAT HEROINE: I fell in love with her before the end of the first chapter. Her love of old black and white mystery movies made me feel 11 again and wondering how fast I would have found Mrs. Salendeski's missing cat if I had a cell phone and Facebook! She is confident but not overly so. She makes sure she checks in with her mother, and even when she takes a chance, it is not one that would have put her in to much danger. She doesn't even pig out on the candy! Plus with the image of her from the cover, I can just picture her dimples.
COOL COVER: The cover is really great. It is bright, simple and recognizable. Just what kids (and adults) like. Let's face it just like I did, kids are drawn to books and will be judging them by the cover. The cover shows you a fun story is to be had and the look on Cora's face is a curious draw right off the bat!
IT IS A SERIES!!!: As mentioned above, many an hour did I spend reading Nancy Drew. There are memories piled high because of Nancy Drew. I want the same thing for my kids, I want them to find the rush and excitement as they read an adeventure with such a loveable safe character. It is safe for all types of kids. Harry Potter was to dark for one kid, but safe for another. Cora would have been safe and enjoyed by both!
To say it hit it's target audience is an understatement. I hope we find more books like this out there and I really hope that the pile of Cora Flash books looks like the one above of Nancy Drew in the years to come! What a great find!