Tag Archives: Mystery

It Wasn’t Me by Dana Alison Levy

It Wasn’t Me by Dana Alison Levy. November 13, 2018. Delacorte Press, 336 p. ISBN: 9781524766436.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.7; Lexile: 740.

THE BREAKFAST CLUB meets middle school with a prank twist in this hilarious and heartwarming story about six very different seventh graders who are forced to band together after a vandalism incident.

When Theo’s photography project is mysteriously vandalized at school there are five suspected students who all say “it wasn’t me.”

Theo just wants to forget about the humiliating incident but his favorite teacher is determined to get to the bottom of it and has the six of them come into school over vacation to talk. She calls it “Justice Circle.” The six students—the Nerd, the Princess, the Jock, the Screw Up, the Weirdo, and the Nobody—think of it as detention. AKA their worst nightmare.

That is until they realize they might get along after all, despite their differences. But what is everyone hiding and will school ever be the same?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Homophobic slur, Mild language

 

Reviews

Booklist (October 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 3))
Grades 5-8. Having to go to school over break stinks, but circumstantial evidence surrounding vandalism brings six unhappy seventh-graders together for a justice circle facilitated by a favorite teacher. Like The Breakfast Club, each student carries a label by which they are automatically judged (the nerd, the princess, the jock, the weirdo, the screw-up), and this experimental gathering seeks to discover not only who destroyed Theo’s photographs but why. Despite a slow start, the story becomes as much a whodunit as an examination of judging others based on assumptions. Each day, the five possible perps fill out a questionnaire, offering readers a glimpse into the characters’ personalities and thin layers of clues. Meanwhile, the six learn about each other’s backgrounds, passions, and commonalities, leading to surprising results. Told primarily via Theo’s first-person narrative, readers join him as he discovers what happened and feel his ever-changing emotions about the events. Plenty of laughs and loads of interesting introspection help drive the story. Fans of Levy’s Family Fletcher books will love that Jax is one of the suspects.

Horn Book Magazine (November/December, 2018)
Having reluctantly agreed to exhibit his self-portraits in his school’s art gallery, seventh grader Theo is devastated when the photographs are defaced and destroyed. With trepidation he joins the five students suspected of committing the vandalism in a Justice Circle, hoping to understand how one of them could be so cruel. The suspects seem predictable types—a jock, an overachiever, a weirdo, a class clown (Jax Fletcher from Levy’s Family Fletcher books), and a stayer-below-the-radar—who are introduced in the novel’s opening pages through the first of the written assessments they are required to complete each day. As time goes on, they start to shed defensiveness, show vulnerability, and gain an appreciation for one another through their shared experience. As for Theo himself, through his introspective first-person viewpoint we see him dealing with hurt, anger, confusion, empathy, and compassion as the culprit is slowly revealed. Levy delves into sensitive topics that are both timely and of great importance to middle-school readers while also providing plenty of entertainment and humor—yoga-ball soccer, anyone?—with this winning school story. monica edinger

About the Author

Dana Alison Levy was raised by pirates but escaped at a young age and went on to earn a degree in aeronautics and puppetry. Actually, that’s not true—she just likes to make things up. That’s why she always wanted to write books. She was born and raised in New England and studied English literature before going to graduate school for business. While there is value in all learning, had she known she would end up writing for a living, she might not have struggled through all those statistics and finance classes. Dana was last seen romping with her family in Massachusetts.

Her website is danaalisonlevy.com

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Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus. January 8, 2019. Delacorte Press, 336 p. ISBN: 9781524714734.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 730.

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone has declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Drugs, Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Underage drinking

 

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (November 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 5))
Grades 9-12. McManus follows up her smash hit debut, One of Us Is Lying​ (2017), with another twisted mystery centered around wily teens. Echo Ridge is an idyllic small town in all ways but one: five years ago, homecoming queen Lacy Kildare was strangled, her body left in the presciently named Murderland theme park. The park changed its name, but the town never moved on—Lacy’s body may have been the first one to turn up, but she wasn’t the first girl to go missing. Ellery and her twin brother, Ezra, have just moved to Echo Ridge to live with their grandmother while their mom, whose own twin vanished in high school, undergoes a stint in rehab. When another girl goes missing, true-crime obsessive Ellery is determined to find the truth. But Echo Ridge is dangerous, and she and her family may be more involved than she knows. This is as much a social commentary as it is a layered mystery, and a somewhat abrupt finale won’t keep readers from speeding their way to the end.

Kirkus Reviews starred (October 15, 2018)
History threatens to repeat itself in a small town known for disappearing teen girls. When their mother is suddenly sent to rehab, twins Ellery and Ezra Corcoran are uprooted from California to live with their grandmother in Vermont. True-crime–obsessed Ellery knows the town is infamous for girls going missing. Her own aunt, her mother’s twin, disappeared 23 years ago, never to be found. Just five years ago, Lacey Kilduff was found murdered in nearby Murderland, a Halloween theme park. All eyes are on the twins as the new kids in town, and Ellery’s pulled between the popular girls and Malcolm Kelly, the younger brother of Declan, Lacey’s boyfriend and the person everyone suspects murdered her. Disturbing acts of vandalism pop up, threatening a sequel to events at Murderland. When Ellery’s nominated for homecoming queen, the threats begin to target her and the other princesses, and no matter what he does, Malcolm keeps ending up at the wrong place at the wrong time, making for an easy scapegoat. Alternating between Ellery’s and Malcolm’s perspectives, the mystery unfurls at a deliciously escalating pace, filled with believable red herrings and shocking twists. Readers will furiously turn pages until the satisfying end. Though the students are predominantly white, Ellery and Ezra are biracial (white and Latinx), and Ezra is gay. Malcolm is white, and his best friend is a bisexual Korean-American girl. Masterfully paced with well-earned thrills and spooky atmosphere worth sinking into. (Thriller. 14-18)

About the Author

Karen M. McManus earned her BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross and her MA in journalism from Northeastern University. When she isn’t working or writing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, McManus loves to travel with her son. One of Us Is Lying is her debut novel.

Her website is www.karenmcmanus.com.

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The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson. January 22, 2019. Katherine Tegen Books, 384 p. ISBN: 9780062338082.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.

For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.

The tantalizing riddles behind the Ellingham murders are still waiting to be unraveled, and Stevie knows she’s so close. But the path to the truth has more twists and turns than she can imagine—and moving forward involves hurting someone she cares for. In New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel of the Truly Devious series, nothing is free, and someone will pay for the truth with their life.

Sequel to: Truly Devious

Part of Series: Truly Devious (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Underage drinking, Smoking

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 9))
Grades 9-12. When true-crime-obsessed teenager Stevie Bell made surprising headway on Ellingham Academy’s infamous 80-year-old cold case, she wasn’t expecting one of her classmates to turn up dead and another to vanish. But in Truly Devious​ (2018), they did, and now Stevie’s parents have pulled her out of school, far away from mysteries both past and present. Stuck, at least, until she gets an offer she can’t refuse from a man with plenty of ulterior motives. But for this single-minded sleuth, nothing is more important than Ellingham’s secrets. In this second trilogy installment, Johnson gives and she takes away: a few major mysteries are satisfying solved, but other long-standing riddles remain tantalizingly indecipherable, and several new ones come into play by the enigmatic end. That Johnson handles all these plots without stalling her tale or relying on shock value to hook her audience is a testament to her skills as a storyteller. Readers, hang tight: there’s one more round to come, and if the signs are right, it’ll be to die for.

About the Author

Maureen knew from an early age she wanted to be a writer. She went to high school at an all-girls’ Catholic school and graduated from University of Delaware with a degree in writing. She now lives and writes in New York City.

Many of the adventures Maureen’s characters face in her books are based on real-life stories. Maureen has traveled all over Europe, and is a Secret Sister to vlog brothers Hank and John Green.

Her website is www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com.

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The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens

The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens. October 16, 2018. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 336 p. ISBN: 9780525582366.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.2; Lexile: 750.

The adventure that began in Siobhan Dowd’s popular and acclaimed novel The London Eye Mystery at long last continues with Ted, Kat, and their cousin Salim investigating a theft at the Guggenheim Museum that’s been pinned on Salim’s mother!

When Ted and his big sister, Kat, take a trip to New York to visit their cousin Salim and their aunt Gloria, they think they’re prepared for big-city adventures. But when a famous painting is stolen from the Guggenheim Museum, where Aunt Gloria works, the surprises begin to mount faster than they could have anticipated. With the police looking at Aunt Gloria as the prime suspect, Ted, Kat, and Salim become sleuthing partners, following a trail of clues across NYC to prove her innocence–and to pinpoint the real thief. Ultimately, it comes down to Ted, whose brain works in its own very unique way, to find the key to the mystery.

Sequel to: The London Eye Mystery

Part of Series: The London Eye Mysteries (Book #2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (September 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 2))
Grades 5-8. Kate and Ted are visiting their cousin Salim, now in New York thanks to his mother’s new job as a curator at the Guggenheim Museum. As in their first adventure, The London Eye Mystery (2008), they are called upon to become detectives, here because a painting has been stolen and Salim’s mother arrested. The book’s narrator is 12-year-old Ted, described last time out as having a brain that “runs on a different operating system” (seemingly autism spectrum disorder); yet it’s his ability to see patterns, indiscernible to most, that allows him, with Kate and Salim’s help, to identify the real perpetrator. The previous book’s author, Siobhan Dowd, died, leaving only this sequel’s title; in an author’s note, Stevens describes how she went about constructing this novel from three words. She’s done an admirable job with the characters. Ted especially is his same quirky self, a boy both a participant in and an observer of his life. The mystery has a few creaky spots, but Stevens moves things along briskly. A welcome return for this dynamic trio.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2018)
A clever junior detective must solve an art heist in this New York City–set sequel to the late Siobhan Dowd’s London Eye Mystery (2008). Twelve-year-old Ted Spark, his 14-year-old sister, Kat, and their mother, Faith, fly to the U.S. to visit Ted and Kat’s cousin Salim and eccentric aunt Gloria. Tourism soon segues into investigation when a painting at the Guggenheim, where Aunt Gloria works, goes missing and she becomes the prime suspect. Although overwhelmed by the strange city and uncertain about his friendship with Kat and Salim, Ted uses his encyclopedic knowledge, keen observation skills, and appreciation for patterns to try and prove Aunt Gloria’s innocence. Perplexed by figures of speech, Ted nonetheless embraces metaphors, relating his adventures through meteorology and Homer’s Odyssey. Although never explicitly identified as such, Ted presents as someone on the autism spectrum—literal, unfiltered, routine-oriented—but Dowd and Stevens (Murder Is Bad Manners, 2015, etc.) depict him as neither a savant nor a saintly sufferer. Rather, Ted Spark has a “funny brain, which works on a different operating system than other people’s,” much like his fictional predecessors Sherlock Holmes and Encyclopedia Brown. Ted notices racial differences, such as Salim’s brown skin, but he seems to adhere to the white default with respect to himself and the rest of the family. Fast-paced, suspenseful, but never scary, a middle-grade mystery with a singular voice and a welcome continuation of the Sparks’ adventures. (Mystery. 8-12)

About the Author

Robin Stevens was born in California and grew up in Oxford, England, across the road from the house where Alice of Alice in Wonderland lived. Robin has been making up stories all her life. She spent her teenage years at boarding school, reading a lot of murder mysteries and hoping that she’d get the chance to do some detecting herself (she didn’t). She studied crime fiction in college and then worked in children’s publishing.

Robin now lives in London with her pet bearded dragon, Watson.  Her website is www.robin-stevens.co.uk

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7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. September 18, 2018. Sourcebooks Landmark, 438 p. ISBN: 9781492657965.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

The Rules of Blackheath

Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let’s begin…

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…

The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave readers guessing until the very last page.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Grotesque imagery, Mild language, Violence

 

Video Reviews

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (May 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 17))
The Hardcastle family has decided to throw a party at Blackheath House as a memorial to their son, who was killed there years before. At 11 p.m., during the party, Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered. Aiden Bishop is trapped inside a time loop with this murder mystery at its center. Each morning he awakens in another guest’s body and relives that same day until Evelyn’s death. If he does not find the killer by 11 p.m., Evelyn will die, and the cycle will begin again. However, there is a catch: he’s racing against time—he has eight days, eight do-overs, to solve the mystery. If he fails, he will be killed himself. This novel is so ingenious and original that it’s difficult to believe it’s Turton’s debut. The writing is completely immersive. The reader slips into the pages right beside Bishop, following closely in the adrenaline-packed hunt for the killer. Evelyn’s time line could easily be confusing, but Turton masterfully creates a natural flow while jumping through different characters on different days. There are certainly echoes of Agatha Christie here, but it’s Christie ramped up several notches, thanks to the malevolent twist on the Groundhog Day theme. Readers may be scratching their heads in delicious befuddlement as they work their way through this novel, but one thing will be absolutely clear: Stuart Turton is an author to remember.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2018)
In this dizzying literary puzzle, the hapless protagonist is doomed to relive the same day over and over unless he can solve a murder at a masquerade ball. The narrator, Aiden Bishop, wakes up in a forest outside Blackheath House, “a sprawling Georgian manor house,” not knowing who or where he is—or why he’s screaming the name Anna. A man in a beaked plague-doctor mask brings him up to speed: For eight days, Aiden will wake up in the body of a different witness to the shooting of young beauty Evelyn Hardcastle. If at the end of that extended week, during which Aiden will remember all that occurs, he fails to identify the killer and break the bizarre murder cycle, he will have his memory wiped and be forced to start from the beginning. “It’s like I’ve been asked to dig a hole with a shovel made of sparrows,” Aiden moans. To be real or not to be real, that is the question for Aiden, who struggles after his own identity while being “hosted” by individuals who include the lord of the manor, a doctor, and a butler. Borrowing liberally from such cultural milestones as Groundhog Day, Quantum Leap, and Eyes Wide Shut—and, of course, the stories of Agatha Christie—the book has a built-in audience. It’s a fiendishly clever and amusing novel with explosive surprises, though in the absence of genuine feeling, it tends to keep its audience at arm’s length. Turton’s debut is a brainy, action-filled sendup of the classic mystery, though readers may be hard-pressed to keep up with all its keenly calibrated twists and turns for more than 400 pages.

About the Author

Stuart lives in London with his amazing wife and daughter. He drinks lots of tea.

​When he left university he went travelling for three months and stayed away for five years. Every time his parents asked when he’d be back he told them next week, and meant it.

Stuart is not to be trusted. In the nicest possible way.

He’s got a degree in English and Philosophy, which makes him excellent at arguing and terrible at choosing degrees.

Having trained for no particular career, he has dabbled in most of them. He stocked shelves in a Darwin bookshop, taught English in Shanghai, worked for a technology magazine in London, wrote travel articles in Dubai, and now he’s a freelance journalist. None of this was planned, he just kept getting lost on his way to other places.

He likes a chat. He likes books. He likes people who write books and people who read books. He doesn’t know how to write a biography, so should probably stop before he tells you about his dreams or something. It was lovely to meet you, though.

Her website is stuturton.wordpress.com/

Teacher Resources

7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle Reading Guide

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Call of the Wraith by Kevin Sands

Call of the Wraith by Kevin Sands. September 25, 2018. Aladdin Books, 544 p. ISBN: 9781534428478.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.7.

Christopher Rowe is back and there are more puzzles, riddles, and secrets to uncover in this fourth novel of the award-winning Blackthorn Key series.

Christopher Rowe has no idea who he is. After being shipwrecked in Devonshire, he wakes up alone, his memories gone. Villagers tell him he was possessed by an unseen evil, and only became conscious after being visited by the local witch.

As Christopher tries to get his bearings, he realizes his current state may be far from coincidence. Dark events have been happening in this corner of Britain—village children are disappearing without a trace. There are whispers that the malevolent ghost of the White Lady has returned to steal the children away, one by one, and consume their souls.

Thankfully, friends Tom and Sally find Christopher and help him reconnect with his unique skills and talents, even as his memories elude him. But as motives and secrets are revealed, Christopher finds himself in a desperate race to reclaim his memories and discover the missing children before it’s too late

Sequel to: The Assassin’s Curse

Part of Series: The Blackthorn Key (Book 4)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Grotesque imagery, Violence, Child abuse

 

About the Author

Since escaping from university with a pair of degrees in theoretical physics, Kevin Sands has worked as a researcher, a business consultant, and a teacher.

His website is kevinsandsbooks.com.

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Mistletoe & Murder by Robin Stevens

Mistletoe & Murder by Robin Stevens. September 18, 2018. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 352 p. ISBN: 9781481489126.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.8.

Hazel and Daisy trade mistletoe for a murder investigation and set out to save the day (Christmas Day that is!) in this fabulously festive fifth novel of the Wells & Wong Mystery series.

Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are spending the Christmas holidays in snowy Cambridge. Hazel is looking forward to a calm vacation among the beautiful spires, cozy libraries, and inviting tea-rooms.

But there is danger lurking in the dark stairwells of ancient Maudlin College and two days before Christmas, there is a terrible accident. At least, it appears to be an accident—until the Detective Society looks a little closer, and realizes a murder has taken place. Faced with several irritating grown-ups and fierce competition from a rival agency, they must use all their cunning and courage if they’re going to find the killer before Christmas dinner.

Sequel to: Jolly Foul Play

Part of Series: Wells & Wong Mystery (Book #5)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial insensitivity, Underage drinking

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Horn Book Magazine (November/December, 2018)
Their fifth adventure finds Detective Society members Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong spending the winter holidays at Cambridge University visiting Daisy’s brother, Bertie. A reunion with the Junior Pinkertons leads to a bet—which is the better detective society?—and some flirting. Then a student—insufferable, rich, and a twin—is found murdered, and the two societies agree to collaborate. Stevens’s frost-dusted 1935 Cambridge, England, is an appealing backdrop for this adolescent whodunit, and Wells and Wong’s partnership, with its echoes of Holmes and Watson, is as entertaining as ever.

About the Author

Robin Stevens was born in California and grew up in Oxford, England, across the road from the house where Alice of Alice in Wonderland lived. Robin has been making up stories all her life. She spent her teenage years at boarding school, reading a lot of murder mysteries and hoping that she’d get the chance to do some detecting herself (she didn’t). She studied crime fiction in college and then worked in children’s publishing.

Robin now lives in London with her pet bearded dragon, Watson.  Her website is www.robin-stevens.co.uk

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The Word is Murder by David Horowitz

The Word Is Murder by David Horowitz. June 5, 2018. Harper, 390 p. ISBN: 9780062676788.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 740.

SHE PLANNED HER OWN FUNERAL. BUT DID SHE ARRANGE HER OWN MURDER?

New York Times bestselling author of Magpie Murders and Moriarty, Anthony Horowitz has yet again brilliantly reinvented the classic crime novel, this time writing a fictional version of himself as the Watson to a modern-day Holmes.

One bright spring morning in London, Diana Cowper – the wealthy mother of a famous actor – enters a funeral parlor. She is there to plan her own service.

Six hours later she is found dead, strangled with a curtain cord in her own home.

Enter disgraced police detective Daniel Hawthorne, a brilliant, eccentric investigator who’s as quick with an insult as he is to crack a case. Hawthorne needs a ghost writer to document his life; a Watson to his Holmes. He chooses Anthony Horowitz.

Drawn in against his will, Horowitz soon finds himself a the center of a story he cannot control. Hawthorne is brusque, temperamental and annoying but even so his latest case with its many twists and turns proves irresistible. The writer and the detective form an unusual partnership. At the same time, it soon becomes clear that Hawthorne is hiding some dark secrets of his own.

Potentially Sensitive Areas:Strong language, Suicide, Violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (April 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 15))
Actually, the word is not murder, it’s ingenious. Horowitz, who out-Christied Christie in Magpie Murders (2017), now out-Doyles Doyle by inserting himself (his actual self) into the story as the Watson-like narrator of a murder investigation he is drawn into by a brilliant and eccentric detective, Daniel Hawthorne. No one arranges her own funeral at 11 a.m. on a beautiful spring day and then gets herself murdered a mere six hours later in her own home, right? Well, Diane Cowper manages to do just that. No CCTV footage, fingerprints, or DNA traces, and no sign of a break-in, so the only clue to go on is that the victim must have opened the door to her assailant. Hawthorne has been called in as a consultant by the police and invites Horowitz to tag along because he wants the author to write a book about him. Horowitz, who started out as a television screenwriter, creating both the acclaimed Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War, finds real crime unlike anything he ever experienced while holding a cleverly devised script on a carefully designed set. Not to mention a dangerous one. A masterful meta-mystery.

Kirkus Reviews starred (March 1, 2018)
Television writer/Christie-loving Sherlock-ian Horowitz (Magpie Murders, 2017, etc.) spins a fiendishly clever puzzle about a television writer/Christie-loving Sherlock-ian named Anthony Something who partners with a modern Sherlock Holmes to solve a baffling case. Six hours after widowed London socialite Diana Cowper calls on mortician Robert Cornwallis to make arrangements for her own funeral, she’s suddenly in need of them after getting strangled in her home. The Met calls on murder specialist Daniel Hawthorne, an ex-DI bounced off the force for reasons he’d rather not talk about, and he calls on the narrator (“nobody ever calls me Tony”), a writer in between projects whose agent expects him to be working on The House of Silk, a Holmes-ian pastiche which Horowitz happens to have published in real life. Anthony’s agreement with Hawthorne to collaborate on a true-crime account of the case is guaranteed to blindside his agent (in a bad way) and most readers (in entrancingly good ways). Diana Cowper, it turns out, is not only the mother of movie star Damian Cowper, but someone who had her own brush with fame 10 years ago when she accidentally ran over a pair of 8-year-old twins, killing Timothy Godwin and leaving Jeremy Godwin forever brain-damaged. A text message Diana sent Damian moments before her death—“I have seen the boy who was lacerated and I’m afraid”—implicates both Jeremy, who couldn’t possibly have killed her, and the twins’ estranged parents, Alan and Judith Godwin, who certainly could have. But which of them, or which other imaginable suspect, would have sneaked a totally unpredictable surprise into her coffin and then rushed out to commit another murder? Though the impatient, tightfisted, homophobic lead detective is impossible to love, the mind-boggling plot triumphs over its characters: Sharp-witted readers who think they’ve solved the puzzle early on can rest assured that they’ve opened only one of many dazzling Christmas packages Horowitz has left beautifully wrapped under the tree.

About the Author

Anthony Horowitz is perhaps the busiest writer in England. He has been writing since the age of eight, and professionally since the age of twenty. He writes in a comfortable shed in his garden for up to ten hours per day. In addition to the highly successful Alex Rider books, he has also written episodes of several popular TV crime series, including Poirot, Murder in Mind, Midsomer Murders and Murder Most Horrid. He has written a television series Foyle’s War, which recently aired in the United States, and he has written the libretto of a Broadway musical adapted from Dr. Seuss’s book, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. His film script The Gathering has just finished production. And — oh yes — there are more Alex Rider novels in the works. Anthony has also written the Diamond Brothers series.

Her website is www.anthonyhorowitz.com

Teacher Resources

The Word is Murder Discussion Questions

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The Island of Monsters by Ellen Oh

The Island of Monsters by Ellen Oh. July 31, 2018. HarperCollins, 256 p. ISBN: 9780062430113.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.9; Lexile: 700.

Harper Raine faces new challenges ahead when her parents take the whole family to a remote tropical island for vacation. As Harper starts to have visions of the resort’s history of disappearances and discovers more about the island’s dark and fabled past, she must use her newly acquired spirit hunting talents to save everyone on the island from murderous spirits on the attack.

Sequel to: Spirit Hunters

Part of series: Spirit Hunters(Book #2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Grotesque imagery, Mention of C-section childbirth

 

 

About the Author

Originally from New York City, Ellen Oh is the founder of We Need Diverse Books and the author of the Prophecy trilogy (ProphecyWarrior, and King) for young adults. Spirit Hunters is her fourth book and her first for middle grade readers. A former adjunct college instructor and lawyer with an insatiable curiosity for ancient Asian history, Ellen lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband and three daughters and has yet to satisfy her quest for a decent bagel.

Her website is www.ellenoh.com

Around the Web

The Island of Monsters on Amazon

The Island of Monsters on Barnes & Noble

The Island of Monsters on Goodreads

The Island of Monsters Publisher Page

Whatshisface by Gordon Korman

Whatshisface by Gordon Korman. May 8, 2018. Scholastic Press, 240 p. ISBN: 9781338200164.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.4; Lexile: 770.

Gordon Korman’s newest standalone novel, is a fun, funny ghost story about a nobody kid who becomes a somebody while helping a ghost right a wrong from the past.

When 12-year-old Cooper Vega moves for the third time in five years, he receives a state-of-the-art smartphone to help him stay in touch with old friends. He’s had phones before, but this one is buggy and unpredictable. When a boy named Roderick Northrop communicates with him through the phone, Cooper realizes that his phone isn’t buggy at all: the thing is haunted!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 13))
Grades 4-7. After moving five times in three years, Cooper’s not surprised when the kids at Stratford Middle School call him Whatshisface, but two new acquaintances stun him. First Jolie, a petite, self-assured classmate who loves theater and extreme sports, befriends him. Then he meets Roddy, the ghost of a 13-year-old Elizabethan apprentice, who inhabits his new cell phone and claims to have written the original version of Romeo and Juliet. The plot thickens when both Jolie’s and Cooper’s brutish nemeses take the leading roles in the seventh-grade production of the play. Meanwhile, Cooper and Roddy attempt to retrieve his original manuscript from a billionaire’s secret vault. The novel has a bit of everything: history, crime, suspense, romance, and plenty of humor. While becoming more familiar with sixteenth-century English customs and language, readers will have the fun of hearing Roddy react to twentieth-century American culture and technology. The question “Who wrote Shakespeare’s plays?” arises, but pales in comparison with “What would you do to help a friend?” Korman’s latest is an enjoyable romp from start to finish.

School Library Journal (March 1, 2018)
Gr 4-7-Army brat Cooper Vega is used to starting over in new places and being practically invisible. As he starts seventh grade at yet another school, his parents have given him a state-of-the-art cell phone. Unfortunately, the phone proves to be haunted by the ghost of an Elizabethan printer’s apprentice who claims to be the original author of Romeo and Juliet, which is being performed at his new school. Funny scenarios abound, especially when Cooper starts taking the ghost’s advice on how to impress the girl he likes. This humorous and well-paced read touches on bullying, crushes, and popularity, with a side of the Bard. VERDICT Korman fans will not be disappointed.-Misti Tidman, -Mansfield/Richland County Public Library, OH

About the Author

Korman wrote his first book, “This Can’t be Happening at Macdonald Hall”, when he was 12 years old, for a coach who suddenly found himself teaching 7th grade English. He later took that episode and created a book out of it, as well, in “The Sixth Grade Nickname Game”, wherein Mr. Huge was based on that 7th grade teacher.

Korman moved to New York City, where he studied film and film writing. While in New York, he met his future wife; live in Long Island with their three children.

He has published more than 50 books.

His website is gordonkorman.com.

Around the Web

Whatshisface on Amazon

Whatshisface on Barnes & Noble

Whatshisface on Goodreads

Whatshisface Publisher Page