The Girl I Used to Be

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By April Henry

New York: Henry Holt & Company, 2016.

Genre: Mystery/Thriller   Grades: 6 and up   Pages: 227

Best-selling author April Henry never disappoints!  Opening chapter has Olivia running for her life—knowing if she slows down and is caught, she will be killed—just like her mother. Only her mother was murdered fourteen years ago and Olivia would not have been in her current situation if she had not decided to find out what really happened that day when they all went into the woods looking for a Christmas tree to cut down. Olivia was three at the time and was with both her mother and her father but the killer dropped her off at Walmart before leaving Medford. All these years Olivia was sure it was her no good father but when she returns to Medford the entire city becomes full of suspects. Henry has written another great who-dun-it, that is a page-turner to the end!  Middle school students will love this thriller!

The Goldfish Boy

The Goldfish Boy

By Lisa Thompson

New York:  Scholastic Press, 2017.

Genre:  Realistic Fiction / Mystery

Grades: 5 and up

Pages: 313

 

Just what is it like to live with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Meet Matthew Corbin a twelve-year-old with OCD who in the beginning of the book has stopped attending school, barely communicates with his family and has completely shut out the outside world.  His only connection to the outside world is his bedroom window and his computer.  From my psychiatric nursing days, I learned people with OCD are often rigid, stubborn, 26891408perfectionists, preoccupied with rules, order and organization and often take no time for leisure or social activities.  Lisa Thompson does a great job developing the character of Matthew.  His need to have order in his world circles around his need to record habits of his neighbors; when they leave and return from work, who visits them, what lights they routinely turn on etc.  To the reader this may seem like a complete waste of time but as the story develops and a toddler goes missing, Matthew might be the key to solving the kidnapping/murder of little two-year-old Teddy.

Matthew expresses his obsession of being germ free by his compulsion for cleanliness.  What twelve-year-old would clean (actually disinfect) his entire room daily or sometimes more often.  Read from page 14-16. That hardly seems harmful but when he washes his hands over and over and uses bleach to clean his hands become a bloody mess and it begins to incapacitate him.

The author does a fabulous job allowing you to get to know each neighbor their habits, their quirkiness and why each one is a suspect in the case of the missing toddler.  She builds a great whodunit which will keep the reader guessing up to the very end!

The book is educational, compassionate and builds empathy!

Blood Will Tell

Blood Will Tell: A Point Last Seen Mystery

By April Henry

Henry Holt and Company, 2015.

Genre: Mystery    Pages: 258.  Grades 6 and up.

I love criminal investigation or forensic mystery books! This book reminded me of Alane Ferguson’s Forensic Mystery Series: The Christopher Killer which I thought was great for middle school students! bloodwilltellApril Henry’s new criminal investigation book does not disappoint!

We pick back up with Search and Rescue (SAR) Team members Alexis, Bran, Ruby and Nick as they head out on a missing 7 year-old girl in the city.  As they are searching for the little girl, elsewhere on the outskirts of town a very young woman by the name of Lucy is killed. They finish late with one case are called out early the next day to look for evidence in the murder of Lucy.  One of the team members who was lauded hero the night before becomes the number one suspect in the brutal murder.  Stay tune as this is another nail biter and page turner by April Henry.

Strike Three You’re Dead

 

Strike Three You’re Dead

By Josh Berk

New York: Yearling Book, 2013.

Pages 250. Grades 4-6 RL 5.1

This is a great new baseball mystery series that is the logical next step for Matt Christopher sport readers. This book has a nice blend of eccentric baseball with murder!

Lenny Norbeck loves baseball, doesn’t play the sport (anymore) but is a die-hard Phillies fan. He and his two best friends, Mike and the Other Mike, spend a lot of time watching the Phillies on TV. When watching one of the games the Phillies announce the Armchair15797684 Announcers Contest. This is the perfect contest for Lenny to enter as he was does a great “color commentary” while watching all the games and one of the Mikes is whiz at making movies.

So they set forth on entering the contest, win it and while Lenny is waiting for his chance to announce one inning of the game, which was the prize, a star, nineteen year old pitcher from the minor leagues gets brought up to pitch. Lenny gets to meet this up and coming pitcher before the game and then he has to wait for 6th inning for his big break into sport announcing. But 6th inning never comes because R.J. Weathers; who is throwing a terrible first inning dies on the pitcher’s mound.

This ends the game, but for Lenny and the Mikes it begins the mystery! Who would do such a thing as to kill a nineteen year old? Everyone thinks the guy suffered a heart attack but not this trio! A cast of suspects line-up—everyone from irate fans to illegal immigrants. This trio teams up for a dynamic man hunt which will keep you turning pages and chuckling along the way. Don’t miss this wacky middle-school mystery.

Author Website

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing

By Shelia Turnage

Holland, Ohio: Kathy Dawson Books.

Dreamscape Audio Book.

Grades 5 and up.Ghosts

 

Okay so during the summer I have 2 or 3 books going at a time.  In my car I was listening to The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing. What a fun book to listen to—Lauren Fortgang has just enough of a southern drawl to pull you into this fun adventure and make it southern believable!  Apparently, this is a sequel to; Three Times Lucky, which I did not read but should have because it was a Newbery Honor winner!  This book does a great job of standing on its own—so no first novel necessary!

In this tiny town not much happens until the old Tupelo Inn goes up for auction.  Miss Lana accidentally bids on the inn—and gets it.  She gets the old inn, and in very fine print, she gets the ghost too!  Mo and Dale, two 6th graders who run their own detective agency, decide they are going to find out who the ghost is and interview it for a history project—or at least try!  A big part of their grade depends on this interview!  

Well the ghost in the inn shows up as a pink mist with a rosemary smell but as you read the book that is not the only kind of a ghost in Tupelo—many residents have things that “haunt” them and Mo, Dale and the new boy, Harm scare up a good deal of commotion in that sleepy little town. 

Delightful characters, laugh out loud humor and mystery (mysteries) solved.

Book # 4 in Mrs. Reiber’s Summer Book challenge!

Author Website

The Secret Box

secret boxThe Secret Box

By Whitaker Ringwald

New York:  Harper Collins, 2013.

297 Pages  Grades 5 and Up.

Jacqueline Alice Malone, Jax, is turning 12 years old which in and of itself should have been exciting.  But nothing ever exciting happens in Jax’s life–especially since life with her single mom in a sleepy little town is very ordinary and simple–until that day when a mysterious birthday package arrived.  Well it was exciting for about 10 seconds!

That is the time it took for Jax’s mom to look down at the package and rip it from her arms! She totally freaked out! She marks the package RETURN TO SENDER—all over it and puts it in her trunk!  She told me to forget about it—I was never getting that package.

 All I could make out was the name Juniper.  That is when my imagination went wild. Could this package be from my dad—the dad whom my mom says she can’t even remember his name?

Jax knows she saw the name Juniper on the return address.  She just can’t get this package out of her mind—so she enlists the help of her only real friend—her cousin Ethan.  Their moms are sisters.  Ethan is the opposite of Jax—he has a dad (and an older video game obsessed brother), gets stress nose bleeds, and he craves the simple and ordinary life of Jax.  Jax is adventurous and bold.  Ethan recognizes, since he has no real friends either, that if he didn’t hang out with Jax he had no life at all!

Jax and Ethan get the package back and that is when the really big mystery begins—the package is a box that cannot be opened—well it can if you figure out the puzzle.  Game on! 

Ethan and Jax meet up with a long lost relative, an evil couple who would kill to get the secret box, kidnapping, guns and a secret so imaginative it will keep you turning the pages right up to the end!

This is a great action packed, crazy, dangerous mystery by this new author, Whitaker Ringwald.  It looks to be the first in a wonderful new series.  I can’t wait to get the book cataloged, book talk it and send it out to students!

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

By Chris Grabenstein

New York:  Random House, 2013.

288 Pages.  Grades 5 and up

 

This book is a Librarian’s dream come true! 

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The Alexandriaville’s library has been closed for twelve years and recently a wealthy game maker, Mr. Lemoncello has joined Dr. Zinchenko, a world famous librarian to create a brand new library in an old bank building.  Since kids that were twelve years old never experienced a public library, an essay contest was held for them. Twelve students were selected to spend a weekend in the library playing “library” games with fabulous prizes for anyone who can figure how to get out the library without using the way they came in or any emergency exit doors.  This book reminded me of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory but in a library.  The eccentric Mr. Lemoncello has many similarities to Willy Wonka–he is colorful and zany and is the host for the weekend mystery. Join this lively group of twelve year olds as they unravel the mystery using their library skills knowledge!  One more thing—when you get to the end of the book the author has a mystery for the reader to solve! This was a fun read!