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“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read.”
Summary: When Mr. Hoffman asked Katie Smith to go to Room 101, she expected it to be just another trip to the supply room. Instead she got quite the surprise - but she couldn't exactly say what it was. After conferring with her friends Charles and Joey, she learned she wasn't the only one who encountered something mysterious in Room 101! Somehow, they have GOT to get to the bottom of this mystery! This is the first book in a mystery series featuring four friends as detectives.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 9 to 12
Interest Level: 8 to 10
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: The story has a Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys feel to it - a wholesome mystery with just enough suspense to keep young readers' attention. Despite the references to modern technology, the story has a time-gone-by feel. Although I *get* the concept of kids determined to solve a mystery alone, I am always bothered when the plot suggests that lying to one's parents is acceptable as part of the plan. Given the quality of the illustrations, the story could have stood on its own without them.
Pros: Share the Willowby Mansion Mystery as a read-aloud with young mystery lovers. The text is dialogue heavy and action oriented, with potential for Reader's Theater.
Cons: The kids go off on their own, lying to teachers and parents. Some readers may find that objectionable. The writing quality is uneven, with overuse of details.
Borrow or Buy: Skip. There are stronger teen detective stories.
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Educational Themes: Use this book as a way of creating a how-to for research and investigation. The author has details about primary source research and interviews, too. Given that the story moves forward largely by dialogue, young readers could transform it into a script.
Notes: The author 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.