Harlem is home to three multi-ethnic kids. Jen watches life from the window of her family’s bodega. Alex wants to help the needy but keeps herself closed. An attack on Elvin’s grandfather has left him surviving on the streets alone. They come together to find out the truth about the grandfather’s attack. Their sleuthing leads them to a mysterious artist whose missing paintings are worth a fortune. A fortune that could save the neighborhood from development by an unscrupulous politician who wants to turn Harlem into a theme park. This exciting mystery explores what defines community, how art has the power to show truth and how we need to protect history and home.
Tessa Picks, 4th-7th grade, People of Color, Mystery, Fast paced, Friendship
Detective Gordon is getting on in years but he's still the best detective around. When he discovers a young mouse who steals a single nut out of hunger, he decides that instead of arresting her, he should take her on as an apprentice and give her food and shelter. They work together to solve cases around town. It's a funny book with a lot of heart and it would make a great read aloud. My favorite part is how particular he is with his stamp. It reminds me of when I let kids stamp their library books.
Crow washed up on the shore of a tiny island twelve years ago. Osh took her in and raised her and Miss Maggie nursed her when she was ill and taught her how to read and write. No one else on the island will come near her. They're afraid she was born on the nearby leper colony and might carry the dreaded disease. So Crow has lived her life full of love and sea salt and beautiful views that Osh paints, isolated on her tiny island. Until the day she decides to look into the mystery of her past, and she discovers pirate treasure, danger, and sorrow. Will finding the truth be worth it, or will it destroy the happy life she already has?
This setting of this book is practically the main character of this story and I could almost taste the salt air as I read it. The adventure is slow to start, but picks up. Crow, Osh, and Miss Maggie are all characters that will stay with me.
Tina and her mother fled the Congo when she was five. She doesn't remember much of her life there, and her mother never talked about it. They lived as refugees, working on the estate of a rich family, the Greyhills, in Kenya until Tina's mother was murdered. Tina knows that Mr. Greyhill is the one who killed her, and she's spent the last five years since her mother's death training to become a thief with a local gang and plotting her revenge. But when that day finally comes, she's caught red-handed by Mr. Greyhill's son, her former best friend. He's convinced his father didn't kill Tina's mother, so they strike a deal to find proof. Even if that means smuggling back into the depths of a war-torn Congo.
City of Saints and Thieves is part heist, part murder mystery, and 100% thrilling. I was completely absorbed by the setting and the characters' search for justice in a place where morality is murky and hard to find. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for an absorbing, page-turning adventure.
A young man survives a shipwreck in 1766 and goes on to create a dynasty of famous actors in London. Another runs away from his boarding school in 1990 to seek out his estranged and eccentric uncle who lives in an even more mysterious house. Their stories, told through pictures and words, intertwine in unexpected ways that will leave you flipping pages and looking for clues about how their stories meet.
This story completely wrecked me. I was deeply touched by the slowly unraveling story of the uncle and his mysterious house. I was drawn in by wondering how the two stories connected. After reading this, I made a point of visiting the museum that inspired it. The whole experience of this book is simply beautiful.
People of With a diverse cast of characters, Harlem Charade takes on real-life issues of gentrification, big money and the loss of a neighborhood's history and culture. Harlem has long been synonymous with black culture and this books explores the rich heritage and present day issues. Three 7th graders band together to solve a mystery and save their community. Jin who lives with her grandparents and helps run their bodega, keeps her keen observations in notebooks. Alex hides her embarrassing wealth and spends her free time trying to help the disadvantaged. Elvin has just arrived in Harlem to live with his estranged grandfather but is living on the streets after grandfather is mysteriously attacked. In their efforts to find the attackers, the three discover that there are missing master pieces from the past worth a fortune. If they can uncover them, they may be able to stop an ambitious politician who wants to turn their neighborhood into a ludicrous historic theme park. Daring, danger and plenty of action enliven this story about what it means to be a community and the power of art to show truth and define home.
Tessa's Picks, 6th grade Summer 2017, 7th grade, Adventure, Contemporary fiction, Friendship, Mystery, Issues Fiction, People of Color
Saba never imagined as her apartment went up in flames that it would be the beginning of a grand mystery that would change her life for the better. Her school community rallies around her, led by two new kids who seem eager to make their mark. Saba's family moves into a luxurious apartment and an auction is organized to raise money for them. When the donation of a weird piece of art found in an alley turns out to be a valuable work by a famous artist, tensions rise. Who should keep the money: Saba's family? The kids who found the art? The school? And just who set the fire in the first place? Read a series of notes, articles, and testimonies, put together the clues, and find out for yourself!
I loved the format of this book! I find it especially effective in mystery narratives where not all the characters can be trusted and you have to be on a sharp lookout for red herrings. A major subplot of the book involves outsider art, an area that I found fascinating. The final conclusion was perfect and a completely satisfying ending to a compelling mystery.
The Art of Secrets by James Klise
Erica's Picks 6th - 8th Tags: Art, Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, People of Color, School Stories
"There was a city that could not be mapped, and inside it a house that could not be drawn." Milo lives with his parents in a rambling old inn filled with as many secrets as the smugglers that come to stay there. The inn sits high on a hill overlooking a harbor with two ways up: a steep path, or a cable railway. Tourist season was long over and snows were arriving to leave them stranded from the main town. Which is why Milo was surprised when the cable railway's bell rang to notify them of a waiting passenger. Soon Milo's quiet holiday has turned into a loud and chaotic mystery as eccentric guests fill the inn and begin to hunt for hidden treasure. Milo joins forces with a new friend to solve the mystery and find the treasure, but what starts as a game to pass the time soon turns into a dangerous adventure.
An old inn in a smuggler's bay trapped by a winter storm--what more could you ask for from a mystery setting? The characters are eccentric but well-rounded. Milo and his new friend use the framework of a role playing game to provide a cover and give them courage to investigate the inn's mysteries. I'd give this to anyone looking for a good adventure or mystery.
Erica's Picks 4th - 6th Grade Tags: Adventure, Family Life, Mystery, People of Color
Have you ever asked a question and had someone warn you to leave it alone? That's exactly what happens to Sally. When she tries to uncover the mystery of what happened to her father she only encounters more death and danger and people telling her that a proper lady should just stay home. But life with her aunt is insufferable and she can't rest until she knows why she became an orphan. With a few trusty friends, she just might be able to discover what a cursed ruby from India has to do with her past--or she might just doom them all!
This is a great mystery set in Victorian England. Sally and her friends from the young photographer to the enterprising urchin are all wonderful characters and the mystery unraveled in a suspenseful way full of clues and puzzles to work out.
I'd give this to fans of mystery and historical fiction 6th & up.
Bogles are good at hiding. The only hint of one might be that children keep disappearing. There are those as don't believe in bogles, but Birdie knows better. She's been a bogler's apprentice for quite some time and she's helped her master to catch many monsters. Bogles love children, so they make excellent bait. All Birdie has to do is stand in a circle of salt and sing. What could be simpler than that? It's a lot better than many of the other jobs orphans take. Except of course that a moment's hesitation or a stumble could mean that her apprenticeship will come to a swift and deadly end.
Birdie is strong-willed and independent as she fights to be recognized for the hero she is despite people constantly underestimating her. The other characters are fun to read about as well from the dodger-like Ned to the impressive Miss Eames. The bogle-catching episodes provide plenty of suspense while the bigger story provides a mystery to be solved. Jinks, as usual, finds ways to slip humor in throughout the story.