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“The greatest gift is a passion for reading.”
Summary: Baily Fish loves her grandmother, Sugar, but she never expected to be living with her. She misses Florida, her friends, and most of all, her mom. When Sugar tells her stories about her family, "wild women" who led fascinating lives, Bailey begins to understand why her mom head to take this trip to Costa Rica. Bailey is determined to be a wild woman, too, but first she needs to help Sugar solve a pollution mystery ... and do something about Justin Rudd, that bully on the bus! But how? This is the first title in this middle-grade mystery series about 11-year-old Bailey Fish.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, middle grade reader, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 10 and up
Adult Reader Reaction: I loved this book. The characters are well developed. They encounter and react to events in ways you can understand. The story moves along quickly, and the short chapters will be particularly enticing to reluctant readers. Although this is a fictional story, there are plenty of factual details that will grab kids' attention.
Pros: Readers of all ages can enjoy this fast-paced adventure about Bailey Fish, a typical 11-year-old girl.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is a wonderful, wholesome story with the elements kids love: characters they can relate to, adventure, and mystery.
Educational Themes: The story has several layers, making it a fun book to read and talk about. With regard to characters, there are themes of friendship, change, family relationships, feelings (loss, anger, fear), and bullying. Within the plot, you can draw out discussions of family history and family trees; gold mining; central Virginia history; spying, and mapping. There is a set of Book Club questions at the back, as well as a glossary and bibliography listing links to websites about Virginia, mining, and Spying and World War I.
Notes: Forward Magazine Book of the Year Award Finalist. Flesch Kincaid reading level 6.1
Literary Categories: Fiction - adventure, mystery, series book
Date(s) Reviewed: October 2008
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