________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 9 . . . . November 2, 2012


Judy Moody's Mini-Mysteries and Other Sneaky Stuff for Super-Sleuths.

Megan McDonald. Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.
Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press (Distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada), 2012.
126 pp., pbk., $6.00.
ISBN 978-0-7636-5941-7.

Subject Headings:
Detectives-Juvenile literature.
Private investigators-Juvenile literature.
Criminal investigation-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Todd Kyle.

*** /4



"...My artifact is way older than Judy's or anybody's. It's an invitation from the pilgrims to the Native Americans inviting them to the very first Thanksgiving." Jessica held up a piece of wrinkly paper that was yellowed around the edges and had cursive writing on it. She read the letter aloud:

November 31, 1621
Dear Chief Massasoit,
We the Pilgrims of Plimouth Colony invite ye and your men to our table for the first ever Thanksgiving dinner.
Governor William Bradford

"Neato! A real letter from 1621!" Frank said.

"Awesome!" said Rocky. The class buzzed with chatter.

Judy raised her hand. "Yes, Judy?" asked Mr. Todd.

"That letter isn't older than my spoon," Judy said.

"Yes it is," said Jessica. "Way older-more than one hundred and thirty years older!"

"I don't think so," Judy said. "It's not even a real artifact. It's a big fat fake. And I can prove it."

In this recent addition to the "Judy Moody" series, author Megan McDonald turns in a collection of short detective stories featuring Judy solving mysteries in her neighborhood, her school, and her family. All the stories tease the reader to solve them before the solution is revealed, and the stories are interspersed with detective advice, sleuthing activities, word puzzles, codes, and other miscellanea. In the mini-mystery quoted above, "The Faux Artifact", when Judy's class is invited to bring an item from home that has a history attached to it, Judy's arch-rival, Jessica Finch, attempts to out-do Judy's Paul Revere spoon with a letter that Judy deduces is a fake. (Yes, you can tell because of the impossible date and the unlikelihood the pilgrims knew they were celebrating what would become a national holiday 200 years later!).

      Compared to the rest of the series, Judy Moody's Mini-Mysteries and Other Sneaky Stuff for Super-Sleuths exhibits little of the stubborn charm and spot-on characterization for which Judy Moody is known. In many ways, though, that is beside the point. The content here is absorbing, engaging, and highly appealing to its target audience, inviting episodic, non-linear reading, diversion to related activities, and probably much sharing of tidbits with friends and family alike. Judy Moody's Mini-Mysteries would be excellent for interactive storytelling or reading-related activity sessions. While the volume is not primarily an activity or workbook, librarians should note that some activities invite the reader to write in the book.

      Judy Moody's Mini-Mysteries is a book aimed squarely at established Judy Moody fans, so much so that it doesn't even take the time to introduce Judy's character, and even assumes the reader has access to other books in the series in activities that, for example, ask the reader to search for words in Judy Moody, Girl Detective. The overarching American history references can also be a little off-putting to Canadian readers. Still, although Judy Moody's Mini-Mysteries does not represent the best of either the detective fiction or the detective nonfiction genres, it provides a terrific introduction to both for early chapter book readers and is a worthy addition to the Judy Moody canon.


Todd Kyle is the CEO of the Newmarket Public Library in Ontario.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.