Friday, November 6, 2009

The Painting That Wasn't There by Steve Brezenoff, C. B. Canga

You can never have too many good, solid, beginning chapter book mysteries. Or dinosaur books. Or Star Wars anything. Or fairy books. Or...ok, ok, getting off the subject here. Sorry, haven't had my tea yet this morning.

Ok, where was I? Oh yes, beginning chapter book mysteries. You got your classics, Cam Jansen, A to Z, your middling populars, Third Grade Detective, Capital Kids (Am I the only person that thinks that should be Capitol?), your screwy/funny, Hank the Cowdog, Chet Gecko, your spin-offs, Nancy Drew misc. dreck, Mary-Kate and Ashley, and now...

We have a new classic on our hands! It's got all the elements - kids with strong independent voices and quirky nicknames, a real mystery and a real crook, and lots of clues and logical deductions, and, of course, clueless adults! Because why else would a kid be needed to solve the mystery?

This particular story is about a missing painting. Gumshoe (James Shoo) and his friends Sam (Samantha), Cat (Catalina), and Egg (Edward) are off on a field trip with their favorite teacher - Ms. Stanwyck from art class. They're excited to get a closer look at the paintings she's been showing them in class, and Egg is especially excited to be doing what he loves best; photography! But when a mean guard starts picking on Egg, they have second thoughts. And then Egg notices something's....different. Ms. Stanwyck won't listen, so it's up to the four to solve the crime!

The illustrations have a dark, spooky quality that fits the mysterious plot. I would have liked clearer reproductions of the pictures, so the reader can see the clues, but kids will enjoy the characters revealed in the illustrations and get a shiver out of the dark corners.

Verdict: I'm excited to discover this new mystery series and look forward to adding it to my library....sometime next year. Ah, end of the year budget woes.

ISBN: 978-1434216083; Published August 2009 by Stone Arch; Review copy provided by publisher for Cybils

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