Thursday, January 29, 2009

Looking for a Good Mystery?

Several kids have been asking for the Chickadee Court Mysteries. I wasn't familiar with the series name, but when they asked for Who Stole Halloween? and Who's Stealing the 12 Days of Christmas? at least I could find that we had them. I never got around to reading either, which was unfortunate since they seemed to be fairly popular with kids.

While at my branch of the public library, I found Who Stole Uncle Sam? the latest adventure on the shelf and it didn't even dawn on me that it was part of the same series until I got it home. So finally, I was introduced to the Chickadee Court detectives, Alex and Yasmeen. Billed as "tween sleuths" on the jacket flap the two are best friends in a small town called College Springs, PA...huh...author Martha Freeman resides in State College, PA...coincidence? I THINK NOT! These tween sleuths got nothing on me!

This book, and I assume the others in the series too, will reach a wide variety of readers. I'm thinking third to fifth grade. In this adventure, Alex's baseball coach, Sam Banner, comes up missing just as he is supposed to lead the Memorial Day 5K that is sponsored by his lawn care company. It's a tradition for him to dress as Uncle Sam. When he goes into the Porta Potty to change, things go a little crazy with a fire that ruins all of the Fourth of July fireworks, and the coach is missing. He quickly re-appears in a different Porta Potty then the one he went into originally, and the mystery is afoot!

Martha Freeman gives the reader a really colorful cast of characters. There's Bub, the Viet Nam vet that lives on their street. He is known for his open door and constant pot of soup. Bub also helps the kids pull their info together. In this adventure, Alex interviews Bub about his Viet Nam experience for a class report, and the author does an excellent job of presenting this tough time in our history.

Officer Krichels is a bumbling, Barney Fife type police officer that works with Alex's mom. He comes in and out of the story, always adding a twist through his mistakes.

Alex and Yasmeen interact with Sofie Sikora, a hyper little chatter box that drives them both crazy, but helps them discover some interesting information about the case.

Finally, Alex's assistant baseball Coach Hathaway is also a Viet Nam vet that returned from the war and joined the peace movement. He still sports long hair and and earring and presents the other side of the conflict for Alex's school project.

It's fun quick read, and Martha Freeman keeps the reader guessing enough to keep them interested in the story. Just when I thought I had it figured out, a twist came along to throw me off on another solution. I can see why the kids like them, now that I've read one, I'll be recommending the Chickadee Court Mystery Series to more readers.

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