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