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“You cannot help someone get up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself.” More
Summary: Milo dreams of being a detective. He was so excited to finally get his Dash Marlowe detective kit. But Milo quickly discovers that there's more to sleuthing than gadgets. He fails the "power of observation" test when Jazmyne (everyone calls her Jazz) covers his eyes and asks him to remember something. Jazz also wants to be a detective ... and Milo's partner. While Milo is mulling it over, Jazz' brother Dylan hands them their first case: his lucky baseball socks are missing. Without those socks, he can't pitch. And if he can't pitch, the Wildcats can't win the championship. How hard can it be to find a pair of stinky socks? This calls for some real observation. This is a mystery series for emergent and transitional readers (first and second grade).
Type of Reading: bedtime story, anytime reading, family reading, independent reading, early reader, reluctant reader, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 6 to 8; read yourself: 7 to 10
Interest Level: 6 to 9
Reading Level: 1.4
Age of Child: Read with a 7-year-old girl.
Young Reader Reaction: Our daughter loved this book and would ask for an extra chapter each night. We took those opportunities to let her read on for herself. She was initially attracted by the title and immediately thumbed through to see if she could figure out the mystery from the pictures.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a fast-paced, well-written book. It reminded me of Encyclopedia Brown without the "you solve it" piece at the end. The illustrations add to the story but don't add extra clues. Given that the audience is young readers, the inset "notebooks" are an excellent tool to aid comprehension and remind readers of what we know "so far."
Pros: Lots of action, a little humor, and some teamwork make this an excellent set of mysteries for emergent readers. It is perfect as a read-aloud or for independent reading.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is a series worth having when you're looking for something a little beyond a picture book but not a full-fledged chapter book. Kids will find it fun to read again to see if they catch clues they missed the first time.
Educational Themes: Although this book is meant for recreational reading, there are some themes you can draw out, including teamwork, jumping to conclusions, jealousy, and sportsmanship. The author has effectively set out the tools of detective work, which can be applied to any number of things. The illustration of "step by step" is an effective one,
Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 1.4
Literary Categories: Fiction - mysteries, early readers, series book
Date(s) Reviewed: April 2009
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