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Summary: Bailey likes living with her grandmother, but she also likes the idea of having neighbors next door. Everyone is helping the Keswicks clear out years of neglect and fix the run-down house. Brothers Noah and Fred Keswick, Bailey, and neighbor Justin Rudd find treasures that offer clues to the family history. But just as fast as they find a new item, it disappears. When Noah finds a newspaper article about Justin's father being in jail, he knows who the thief is. He wants those treasures back, and some help in setting the trap. Bailey has her own concerns about Justin. She isn't sure she wants to be a detective. This middle grade mystery offers a story about community, friendship, family, and jumping to conclusions.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, read aloud book, reluctant reader
Recommended Age: read together: 7 to 12; read yourself: 10 to 13
Interest Level: 8 to 13
Reading Level: 5.6
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: Bailey wears her thoughts and emotions on her sleeve, which makes it easy to connect with her character. The author does a masterful job layering the plot with other themes (adoption, friendship, judging others) and information to pique a reader's interest: homeschooling, bullying, Native American tribes, and classic literature. Although this is a different genre, and Bailey is not a super-sleuth, the story-telling style will remind you of Carolyn Keene and Nancy Drew.
Pros: Short chapters and lots of action make this a fast, fun, and adventurous read for upper elementary and middle-school kids. Even if this is your first Bailey Fish Adventure, you can quickly get into the story and not feel as if you missed something by starting with book three.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is an engaging, fun-to-read story. The characters are ones kids can relate to, have timeless adventures every pre-teen would enjoy, and are books you'll come back to "just because."
Educational Themes: Like all of the books in this series, there are book club questions, photos, a glossary, and a bibliography with links and books so you can learn more about the book's themes. I love that the author includes a full citation for the books mentioned in the story. Bailey is reading The Secret Garden, but there are other books that are quickly mentioned that you may want to find.