Friday, January 15, 2016

West Meadows Detectives: The Case of the Snack Snatcher by Liam O'Donnell, illustrated by Aurrelie Grand

Mysteries are always popular with beginning readers and this is an excellent mystery - with a twist.

Myron does not like new things and a whole lot of new things are happening to him. New baby, new school, new bullies and, perhaps, new friends. Myron just wants to settle in and figure out his new routine in school and in Room 15, but his self-appointed friend, Hajrah, have other ideas. Soon they're investigating mysterious messes and disappearing snacks in the kitchen, following clues, and making sure the wrong person doesn't get in trouble!

Myron is autistic and Hajrah is in room 15 because she "[bounces] around too much." The other children's reasons for being in room 15 aren't explicitly stated, but their differences are casually woven into the text. I appreciated that they didn't discover amazing talents or inspire anyone, but they were shown with some advantages - Myron's literalism makes him good at dealing with facts - and some disadvantages - he doesn't understand how people react or behave.

The illustrations show a diverse classroom and school and are funny without being too cartoonish. The author's acknowledgement lists people who consulted on making the references to autism accurate.

Verdict: This is not only a good beginning chapter mystery with a story and characters kids will enjoy, it ably represents kids with different abilities as more than their differences. An excellent addition to beginning chapter mysteries.

ISBN: 9781771470698; Published 2015 by OwlKids; Review copy provided by publisher for Cybils; Donated to the library

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