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Search tags: mystery-dectective-crime
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review 2015-07-16 19:00
Chasing Vermeer
Chasing Vermeer - Blue Balliett

This was an okay read - nothing knock-your-socks-off outstanding which I guess I was kind of expecting based on all the acclaim this was getting.  I was expecting something super clever, but the mystery is pretty slight and the solution was rushed and a bit of a let down. I didn't particularly like the reliance on coincidence and the mystical. A far better art mystery for kids is From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  And an even better puzzle type mystery is The Westing Game.  I won't read another in the series myself, but my daughter has already started the sequel, The Wright 3, so there is clearly kid-appeal here.  

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review 2014-10-28 15:17
Gone Girl
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

Hey, is there room for me on this here bandwagon?


It's everything everyone says it is - clever, compelling, surprising, disturbing, thought- provoking.  I don't necessarily buy into the dire view of relationships presented here...however, Amy's 'cool girl' rant is one of the best pieces of spot-on writing I've read in a long, long time. 


Can't wait to see the film adaptation!

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review 2014-10-02 15:52
Wonderstruck - Brian Selznick

Gosh, that Brian Selznick is a clever dude.  I felt that Hugo Cabret worked so well because (a) it was totally new and unique and (b) its storyline (silent films/mystery) worked perfectly with the medium.  And so I wondered if he could really pull it off a second time.  Well, pull it off he did and, in my opinion, with even more success. 


Wonderstruck tells two equally engrossing stories.  One, set in 1977, tells the story of a grieving boy named Ben who is dealing with the loss of his mother and the total loss of his hearing while also attempting to unravel the mystery of his unknown father.  The other, set in 1927, tells the story of Rose - an overprotected, lonely and deeply unhappy deaf girl seeking some kind of freedom and happiness.  Ben's story is told in text and Rose's exclusively in pictures.  The stories intersect in surprising and enjoyable ways and overall this book is just a delight to experience.


I absolutely LOVE how Selznick always manages to incorporate non-fiction elements into his stories.  With Hugo it was silent films and Georges Méliès in particular.  Here it's museums - specifically the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the precursors to formal museums - Cabinets of Wonder.  I think in some author's hands this type of thing could feel clunky and pedantic, but Selznick's passion for the subject always shines through and is deeply infectious.


Finally, one simply cannot read this book and not think of E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  I was thrilled to see Selznick address this in his acknowledgements AND he says there are little references to Konigsburg and her book sprinkled throughout his book!  I didn't catch a single one and now I feel like I may have to go back and read the entire thing!  Well, I could think of a lot worse ways to spend my time.

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review 2014-07-24 17:48
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - E.L. Konigsburg

As an adult reading this for the first time, I really had to shut off a good portion of my brain that concerns itself with 'plausibility' and 'child safety', etc. Once I did that I really had a jolly old time! On one level, the most important level really, this is fabulous escapist fiction for kids.  Even now I found myself getting caught up in and deeply admiring Claudia's planning and execution of the big run-away adventure.  On another level, this is about the little ways we find to escape the mundane and how we can feel special and unique when life seems so ordinary. 


The 'feel' of the novel - the 1960s New York setting, the precocious heroine - are very like 'Harriet the Spy'.  My daughter loved both equally, but is fairly devastated to learn that automats no longer exist.

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review 2014-01-16 18:34
Brixton Brothers: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity
The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity (Brixton Brothers) - Mac Barnett

Reading with my daughter is always the highlight of my day - the highlight of my life really.  But this book was a little extra special.  Perhaps it was the constant chuckles (from both of us) or the begging to read ‘just one more chapter’ (again, from both of us).   The mystery here is pretty slight – I had it figured out early on, but the mystery isn’t what matters.  It’s the non-stop hilarity as Steve earnestly goes about his amateur sleuthing. 


Steve is full of surprises – the reader constantly has to shift gears as we either completely underestimate or overestimate his abilities.  I loved the references to the corny, old fashioned Bailey Brothers (a thinly disguised parody of The Hardy Boys, Encyclopedia Brown and other kid detective series from a bygone era).


Like some reviewers, I was a little surprised to hear that this is often described as a good one for reluctant readers.  If this is what reluctant readers are reading these days I think we’re in good shape! Mac Barnett knows kids and, what’s more, he doesn’t talk down to them.  He meets them where they are and then takes them places they didn’t realize they wanted to go.

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