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Publisher: Harper, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,
Summary: Mr. Melville was famous for his “Special Projects,” a totally random assignment that had nothing to do with Social Studies. This time, his seventh grade class must “find a mystery and then solve it.” Bethesda Fielding knew exactly what her mystery would be: Who is Ms. Finkleman, the band and chorus teacher? Just when Bethesda thinks she has solved the mystery once and for all, she discovers there is still one missing piece! This is a fast-paced chapter book mystery for preteens.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 10 and up
Interest Level: 8 to 10
Reading Level: 5.8
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a quick read. The mystery is not so predictable that you can see the twist coming too early. Kevin, Tenny, and the rock concert keep this from being a “girl book,” which the cover seems to suggest. Bethesda’s relationship with her dad is a a nice change from the frequent mother-daughter tandems that fill books for kids this age. I loved that it showed a healthy relationship between a dad and his teenage daughter.
Pros: Boys and girls alike will relate to Bethesda, Kevin, and Tenny and their views on life and school. This is a fast-paced mystery that will keep dormant readers turning the page.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is an enjoyable read, and if you like books in sets, then you'll want all the titles in the series. This would make a great choice for a teen mystery lover.
Educational Themes: Although this is a book written for fun reading, there are a couple of themes that would be great discussion points in a group setting: respecting privacy, personal choice, choices and consequences; and family life.
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 - adventure, fantasy, middle grade series, school, friendship, coming of age
Date(s) Reviewed: May 2012
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.