Monday, June 4, 2012

Review: Judy Moody's Mini-Mysteries and Other Sneaky Stuff for Super Sleuths by Megan McDonald (ARC)

Judy Moody's Mini-Mysteries and Other Sneaky Stuff for Super Sleuths. by Megan McDonald. August 14, 2012. Candlewick Press. 96 pages. ISBN: 9780763659417

This summer, Candlewick will publish not one but two new Judy Moody titles. While Judy Moody and the Bad Luck Charm (which I will review next week) is a regular Judy Moody story which follows in succession after Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, this book is something a little bit different. It’s Judy’s guide for detectives, complete with puzzles, activities, and a set of short Encyclopedia Brown-esque mysteries for readers to solve.

What makes Judy Moody's Mini-Mysteries and Other Sneaky Stuff for Super Sleuths stand out for me over other activity books of its kind is how much emphasis it places on reading. This isn’t just an opportunity for kids to fill in a few blanks and move on. Rather, readers have to read carefully to solve mysteries, answer simple logic puzzles, and learn Judy’s various detecting strategies. Just like the rest of the series, the book is heavily illustrated, so new chapter book readers can feel confident trying it out, and the various puzzles would be as much to do alone as with a group, whether that is a child’s family, scout troop, or class.

There are only two drawbacks to this book. One is that it relies on some of the earlier Judy Moody books for hints and clues to some of the puzzles. I can see kids being frustrated if they buy or borrow this book but don’t have the others on hand. Sure, the publisher wants to encourage kids to read the other books in the series, but I hadn’t read Judy Moody, Girl Detective, and it annoyed me that I couldn’t understand some references because of that. In the same way, the book also devotes a good number of pages to Nancy Drew. Nancy Drew is a great character, and kids should definitely discover her, but if they haven’t yet, a pretty sizeable chunk of this book is lost on them.

All in all, this is a book mainly geared toward fans of the series who have read the other books and will appreciate the tie-ins with various plot points. Kids who fancy themselves spies or detectives will love the tips they find here, and they’ll gain confidence from solving Judy’s mysteries right along with her.

I received a digital ARC of  Judy Moody's Mini-Mysteries and Other Sneaky Stuff for Super Sleuths from Candlewick via NetGalley. 

For more about this book, visit Goodreads and Worldcat.

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