Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mysteries are as popular with kids as they are with adult readers, and fortunately for those of us who are addicted, there are plenty of series around to choose from. Two writers who recently made their debut and are soon releasing second books are Bennett Madison, and Blue Balliett.

Blue Balliett’s sleuths Petra and Calder first appeared the widely acclaimed Chasing Vermeer. The pair return in The Wright 3 and are joined by Tommy, a classmate recently returned from New York. Set in Chicago with a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece playing a central role, The Wright 3 will make a great summer read for pre-teen sleuths and architecture buffs. There is plenty of action, more than one hidden treasure, coded messages, ghostly encounters, and more danger than the three bargained for. Brett Helquist, illustrator of the Lemony Snicket books, makes this one extra special. My only complaint was that in her desire to inform, Balliett too often slips into an adult voice. Still keep The Wright 3 in mind when you’re on the lookout for books to keep preteens occupied this summer. (Reviewed from advance reading copy)

For the teenage girl on your list, Lulu Dark and the Summer of The Fox is the perfect choice. The backdrop for Bennett Madison’s second Lulu Dark mystery is the B movie world of Hollywood. Lulu, our reluctant girl detective is relieved that school is out. Summer vacation has finally arrived and her plans involve hanging out with her best friend Daisy, daytime TV, lying in the sun in her bikini, talking on her cell phone, and trying to figure out how her best guy friend ended up as her boyfriend. The disappearance of her aging B-actress mother from a movie set followed by the disappearance of her boyfriend throw her back into the world of stake-outs, slinking down dark alley’s, and high speed motor bike chases. Can Lulu Dark find her mother and save her boyfriend? Does she even want a boyfriend? And what outfit should she wear to rescue them? The answers all await your beach reading pleasure. Enjoy. I did, despite the lack of a beach or even sun. (Reviewed from advance reading copy)

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