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Summary: Randi's dad may be a famous crime novelist, but he hasn't got a clue when it comes to understanding his 12-year-old daughter. At least that's the way Randi sees it. Couldn't he see how moving from New York City to Deer Creek, Tennessee, would be a disaster? Yes, it might be a great place to go to remember her mom, but it is dying fast! As Randi quickly discovers, big adventures can happen in small towns. This is a sparsely illustrated chapter-book mystery for transitional readers.
Type of Reading: family reading, independent reading, read aloud book, reluctant reader, illustrated chapter, transitional reader
Recommended Age: read together: 9 and up; read yourelf: 10 and up
Young Reader Reaction: Teen 1: The cover of the book was misleading. I was expecting a group of ninjas investigating a crime. The group didn’t get together and the action didn’t start until halfway through the book and it ended very quickly. It became a story about a girl’s beauty pageant. I don’t think this book was for me. I would recommend to kids in 5th or 6th grader. It will probably appeal more to girls than boys. If you are looking for a good action book I would recommend The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan.
Teen 2: I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the way real issues are incorporated into an action-packed story. I felt and appreciated Randi's emotions of losing her mother and moving to a new town. When books contain topics kids can relate to, it helps us feel that someone else understands what they are going through.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a fast-paced mystery that seems to get ahead of itself at times. The story is fun and enjoyable to read, but I found it somewhat predictable. Many of the adults were pretty stereotypical, as were the festival queen and her friends. Randi is a great character, and D.C. and Pudge also have the potential to be strong parts of the ensemble. They deserve more than the cursory backstories they have now. Randi's relationship with her widower dad is also uneven, which is a shame, because there is an opportunity for the book to fill a void in middle-grade fiction.
Pros: Readers looking for a fast-paced story with crime-solving kids will enjoy this adventure. There are some detective-like activities in the back for readers, as well.
Cons: The cover of the book suggests that there are three crime fighters and they are a team. That isn't quite the case in this book.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. Once you've read the story and solved the crime, you'll be ready to move on to the next book.