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“Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.” More
Publisher: Harper, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,
Material: hard cover
Summary: Bethesda Fielding loves a mystery, and this one is going to be great! Someone broke into the trophy case and stolen the schools ONLY trophy. Principal Van Vreeland was beyond angry. So far beyond that she has cancelled all of the 8th graders fun events and threatened them with The Week of A Thousand Quizzes. What looks like a slam dunk case, isn't. The pressure is on for Bethesda. Bethesda and Tenny are together again in this second mystery set at Mary Todd Lincoln Middle School.
Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book, reluctant reader, family reading
Recommended Age: read together: 7 to 10; read yourself: 10 to 12
Young Reader Reaction: Our pre-teen instantly connected with Bethesda - particularly when it came to her father's corny jokes! She liked that Tenny and Bethesda could be "just friends," especially since they were so different. Her bottom line: She liked it and would recommend it to a friend who likes girl detectives.
BTSYA: The Mystery of the Missing Everything is a mystery novel with a wonderful conglomeration of silliness (words like skabimple), action, and thrill, which is expressed through the characters and the plot. Although the book is mostly told from Bethesda’s point of view, the other characters' personalities come through. The interesting characters and numerous mysteries will make this book fun to read for middle school students.
Adult Reader Reaction: The author has followed up The Secret Life of Mrs. Finkleman with an equally fresh, fun mystery. The story has plenty of middle school drama readers can relate to, but with the exception of Principal Van Vreeland, characters aren't caricatures. This is a story that stands on its own. You don't have to read The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman first.
Pros: Mysteries within a mystery keep readers on their toes and turning the page in this middle grade novel.
Cons: None. I found myself rooting against Principal Van Vreeland, and to a lesser extent Vice Principal Gravely. They were the two characters that seemed a bit too stereotypically "bad." The author does balance the story with more positive adult characters, though.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a wholesome novel that you'll feel comfortable giving to teens or reading with kids of different ages.
Educational Themes: This would make an interesting, fun book club selection. You can explore family relationships and friendship, as well as themes of responsibility, integrity, and choices / consequences.
Notes: The publisher donated a copy 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, school, middle grade series
Date(s) Reviewed: October 2014, September 2015
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.