An educational, entertaining mystery for kids.

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AN ADVENTURE IN ARIZONA

LAS MYSTERIES - BOOK 2

In this fast-paced mystery novel, sixth-grader Leira and her friends meet fun and danger on their winter break.

Leira and her new best friends, Addy and Skye, are in the middle of surviving bitter cold, ice and downright dreariness—just another New England winter. Their school’s winter break is approaching, and it’s the light at the end of the tunnel, especially when Leira’s mother, Mrs. MacGregor, invites Addy and Skye to come along on the MacGregor family trip to Arizona. The girls are beyond thrilled—Addy has never stayed at a nice hotel, and Skye has never been on an airplane—and the group sets out to visit Leira’s relatives: Aunt Debbie, Uncle Ray, and cousins Brianna and Luke. Luke, an Eagle Scout, has invited the girls to camp with him in the nearby canyons and mountains. They oblige, and Luke teaches them about the desert, the culture of the area and how to camp. One morning, they find mysterious markings surrounding their camp—has someone been watching them, all alone, in the middle of the desert? Can the girls and Luke find out what’s happening before someone gets hurt? A fast-paced, quick read, Carson’s (The Mystery of Grimly Manor, 2012) novel offers both entertainment and a bit of education. Particularly impressive is the level of research, including many informational bits about the desert’s flora, fauna and climate and Native American culture, which enriches the story’s central plotline. When danger does strike, those lessons are used, making readers likely to remember them for later. This subtle learning makes this a work that kids and parents can feel good about picking up. There are some small gripes, though: Dialogue can feel a bit hackneyed and earnest, and few children talk the way these characters do—“I responded cautiously, ‘Well, all I can say is that it has to do with our winter vacation. If I say anything else, then neither of you will have a chance to do something extremely exciting.’ ” But the prose is descriptive and assertive, and the pacing is perfect for a children’s mystery. Hopefully, Carson keeps at it.

An educational, entertaining mystery for kids.

Pub Date: March 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-1495412516

Page Count: 188

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2014

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DANGLING

Eleven-year-old Ben has acquired a best friend with a somewhat mysterious past. Although he likes and admires Ring, an unusual boy who quickly shakes up his placid life, Ben realizes that Ring is extremely grudging with details about his history before he and his parents moved to town. Ring, tall and skinny, as opposed to Ben, a self-described runt, is an avid bird watcher, an enthusiastic runner, and has an uncanny ability to charm those around him—both adults and kids. Events inexplicably come to a head when Ben, Ring, and their families spend the afternoon having a picnic on a pretty spot next to the town's river. After lunch, Ring walks to the bank of the river and keeps walking until the water covers his head. Even after a week, Ben refuses to accept what must seem obvious to everyone else—that Ring has drowned. But when Ring's parents disappear, too, Ben suspects that something is up. And when Ben hears a TV news report about a runaway boy who's been spotted hitchhiking on the highway, Ben is sure that Ring is still alive. Although the plot is implausible and many of the secondary characters too deliberately colorful and quirky, Ben is an extremely appealing and engaging narrator. Young readers will identify with him, a much more realistic character than the idealized and overwritten Ring. Certainly not a "must have" for the middle-grade library, but an interesting enough story. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83581-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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KAT'S CRADLE

The third Kat Colorado novel (Katwalk, Katapult), a contrived affair, replete with Meaningful Chapter Headings, that concerns weepy Paige (formerly Pearl) Morrell, who hires the sardonically edgy Kat to find her unknown mom—her granny, who has just died, brought Paige up and said nary a word. The usual p.i. statistics- dredging discovers granny's twin daughters, Opal and Ruby, one now heading up an Omaha future-trends consultancy and the other squirreled away in a care facility. Are they lying about who's who, and does it relate back to their late teen years and one girl's illicit romance and the other's departure for the East? Paige's fiancÇ, yuppie Paul, nearly kills Kat to get her to drop the investigation, and Derek, the business brains behind the trends company, romances her into virtual slow-wittedness. Two more deaths later, Kat unravels an unsurprising identity switch, turns a goodnight kiss into a shootout, and stares unblinkingly at Paige's crocodile tears. A calculated rendering of p.i. conventions, readable if not particularly original.

Pub Date: March 16, 1992

ISBN: 0-385-42095-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1992

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