THE SECRET OF THE PAINTED HOUSE

Like The Blue Ghost (2005), Bauer’s latest is a well-written beginning chapter book with plenty of suspense and mystery to keep young readers turning pages. After she and her family move into a new home, Emily is delighted to discover a playhouse in the forest behind the house. The strange thing is that there is a forest painted inside of it. . .and inside that painting, another playhouse. . .ad infinitum. As if this isn’t scary enough, Emily’s little brother Logan steps into the painting and is lured further and further into a series of identical painted worlds by Penelope, the girl, now dead, to whom the original playhouse had once belonged. While this rather gothic offering has the potential to scare or confuse some younger readers, it’s ideal for those braver souls intrigued by the eerie and the supernatural. There is also a valuable message woven into the tale, as Emily learns through this scare just how very important are the ordinary, even annoying things in her life, such as her little brother. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: July 10, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-375-84079-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2007

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Nicely paced, with just the right number of red herrings to keep readers thinking; they will hope the number 1 on the spine...

THE DIAMOND MYSTERY

From the Whodunit Detective Agency series , Vol. 1

Jerry and Maya, classmates and friends, spend their spare time solving mysteries in their hometown of Pleasant Valley in this Swedish import.

Things are not so pleasant for Mohammed Carat, the richest man in Pleasant Valley. His world-famous jewelry store is losing money; apparently, one of his employees is stealing valuable diamonds and gems. The police are no help, so Mr. Carat turns to the youngsters for help. Each employee is a suspect: Vivian is in money trouble, former owner Danny wants his store back, and Luke’s flashy spending is suspicious. Jerry and Maya are hired to help out around the shop—washing windows, taking out the trash and so forth—but really they are there to watch the employees, both from inside the shop and from the church tower next door. Young mystery aficionados will enjoy solving the puzzle along with Maya and Jerry and will admire their observational powers. Full-color cartoon illustrations add much to the story, helping readers to see what the young gumshoes do. A map of Pleasant Valley and an illustrated cast of characters are provided in the early pages, allowing new readers an excellent reference tool to keep the many characters straight.

Nicely paced, with just the right number of red herrings to keep readers thinking; they will hope the number 1 on the spine indicates that this is the first of many Maya and Jerry mysteries. (Mystery. 7-9)

Pub Date: July 31, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48067-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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THE FENWAY FOUL-UP

BALLPARK MYSTERIES, #1

From the Ballpark Mysteries series , Vol. 1

A new series for emerging chapter-book readers combines the allure of baseball parks with the challenge of solving a mystery. Mike and Kate have tickets to a Red Sox game and an all-access pass to the park, courtesy of Kate's mom, a sportswriter. The pass comes in handy when it's reported that star player Big D's lucky bat has been stolen, as it allows them to help find the thief. Historical details about Fenway Park, including the secret code found on the manual scoreboard, a look at Wally the mascot and a peek into the gift shop, will keep the young baseball fan reading, even when the actual mystery of the missing bat falls a little flat. Writing mysteries for very young readers is a challenge—the puzzle has to be easy enough to solve while sustaining readers' interest. This slight adventure is more baseball-park travel pamphlet than mystery, a vehicle for providing interesting details about one of the hallowed halls of baseball. Not a homerun, but certainly a double for the young enthusiast. On deck? The Pinstripe Ghost, also out on Feb. 22, 2011. (historical notes) (Mystery. 6-9)

 

 

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86703-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011

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