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“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.”
Summary: Rick Zengo is tired of being called "rookie." How would his action-hero movie idol Chase Mercy handle it? All of Kalamazoo was excited that Chase was coming home to shoot his new film at the new Kalamazoo City Dome, a family theme park. There's only one problem - on opening night, someone sabotaged the sKCy Scraper roller coaster! Whoever it was wasn't making it easy on O'Malley or Zengo. Could they get this solved before Chase Mercy called off the filming? This illustrated chapter book offers a humorous mystery.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, middle grade reader, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 8 and Up; read yourself: 10 and up
Young Reader Reaction: The Ostrich Conspiracy is a fast-paced, action-packed detective novel youngsters will love. The detectives on the Platypus Police Squad are armed with boomerangs, one aspect of the novel that makes it child-friendly. This book will expose elementary and middle school children to detective novels through the cartoon-like characters and fictional setting, leaving out the blood and gore of the more realistic crime novels. This book would be great for children who feel like an underdog, or who are new to a school, as a lesson in perseverance and hard work.
Adult Reader Reaction: The story is funny, but also poignant. Zengo is an "every platypus" character - clever, unsure of himself, and prone to jump to conclusions. The mystery is well presented. There is just enough suspense to keep you reading, but neither scary nor predictable. I highly recommend this as a read-aloud.
Pros: Humor, down-to-earth characters, and good ol' detective work combine in a great story for upper elementary and middle school readers.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is a story that kids will come back to even after the crime is solved. They'll want to use some of the jokes and wordplay with their peers.
Educational Themes: The story is presented in such a way that you could stop at various points to ask the reader some questions: what facts are known? what is opinion? what do Zengo and O'Malley still need to determine? You might even ask them to predict who the culprit(s) may be.
Notes: The publisher donated an Advance Review Copy (ARC) of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - mystery, crime and detective stories, humor, animal stories, series
Date(s) Reviewed: August 2014
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.