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Book: Nancy Drew: Green-Eyed Monster by Carolyn Keene (first of the Eco Mystery Trilogy, part of the Nancy Drew series)
Genre(s): Mystery, Series
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication date: 2009
Paperback: 176 pages
Other:
 
Summary: Nancy and her friends Bess and George (both girls) become interested in ways to help save the environment as a result of attending an Eco Fair at their high school, and resolve to become more eco-conscious. But then when Bess wins the Eco-Fair raffle (a trip to Costa Rica), they have the opportunity to learn even more about the topic… Soon all three friends are on their way to Costa Rica to experience the delights of a brand-new eco-resort.
To their surprise, not all is as it seems at Casa Verde, and Nancy soon finds herself hot on the tail of a thief who seems to have a larger agenda. Can she find and stop him or her before real damage is done? Read this page-turning mystery to find out!

 

To whom will this appeal?: This book will appeal to the lover of genre mysteries for kids and tweens, and probably will be more of a draw for girls than for boys, as the action is mostly centered on female characters. Nancy Drew is her usual comforting, intrepid self, and despite the aura of danger, the tone of the book is upbeat and positive. One never doubts that Nancy will be able to get down to the bottom of the mystery, so this book is good for the reader who likes nicely wrapped up endings. (However, this one has one small twist at the very end, which is because this is but Book One of a trilogy, so be prepared for a little hook at the end to make you want to get the next one.)

Book: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Genre(s): Very difficult to categorize, but here goes: Mystery, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction (in some ways)
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Publication date: 2009
Hardcover: 208 pages
Other:
Newbery Award Winner, 2010

When You Reach Me coverSummary: Sixth-grader Miranda is having, well, a sort of weird time lately. Her best friend Sal has suddenly stopped talking to her, and won’t say why. There’s a bum who’s recently taken up residence on the corner near her apartment building (located in 1970s Upper West Side Manhattan), and who creeps her out with his sudden laughing episodes. And then there are the cryptic notes that start appearing in odd places where no one could have access.

What does it all mean? Figuring out what is going on is half the fun of this literary sci fi realistic mystery. (Yes, this book does indeed defy categorization!)

To whom will this appeal?: When You Reach Me is a literary novel written for the “middle grades” (and as such has extremely well-observed and realistic middle grade characters) but will appeal to a number of different “constituencies.” Fans of Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (which, incidentally, won the Newbery Award in 1963) will appreciate the literary (and timeless) quality of Stead’s writing. Stead herself is a fan of A Wrinkle in Time, as evidenced by the ubiquitous AWIT references in WYRM. In fact, one could go so far as to say that reading (or re-reading) A Wrinkle in Time is a necessary prerequisite to properly enjoying When You Reach Me.

It is a pity that many libraries will only carry this in their children’s section, as this book has an appeal for all ages, especially the teen or adult who enjoys the challenge of solving a tantalizing esoteric mystery that is zillions of miles away from (and more sophisticated than) the average juvenile mystery. Any child/teen/adult who has enjoyed the books of E. L. Konigsburg (especially From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and The View from Saturday) will be very likely enjoy WYRM.

Another audience to whom the book will appeal is adults who may have grown up in, or relish the description of, 1970s New York. The description of late 70s era NYC — the freedom the kids had, the vague feeling of danger and yet innocence, the falling-apart-ness of buildings, the ethos of the time — is extremely well-done. While tweens or teens may also appreciate this description, I suspect that the draw of this type of historical detail is especially strong for those who have lived through the era and in the place. (Having myself lived in 1979 NYC, this observation may well be colored by my personal experience!)