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The Absent Author (A to Z Mysteries) Paperback – September 23, 1997

4.6 out of 5 stars 108 customer reviews
Book 1 of 26 in the A to Z Mysteries Series

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A Woodland Wedding (Owl Diaries #3): A Branches Book by Rebecca Elliott
"A Woodland Wedding (Owl Diaries #3)" by Rebecca Elliott
Aimed at newly independent readers, this series is part of Scholastic's early chapter book line called Branches. Learn more | See related books
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

A is for author.... Dink writes to his favorite author, mystery writer Wallis Wallace, and invites him to visit Green Lawn. To Dink's amazement, Wallace says he'll come! But when the big day arrives, Wallace is nowhere to be found. The police think he just missed his plane, but Dink suspects foul play. It's up to Dink and his two best friends, Josh and Ruth Rose, to find the famous writer--before it's too late!

About the Author

RON ROY has been writing books for children since 1974. He is the author of dozens of books, including the popular A to Z Mysteries®, Calendar Mysteries, and Capital Mysteries. When not working on a new book, Ron likes to teach tricks to his dog Pal, play poker with friends, travel, and read thrilling mystery books.
STEPHEN GILPIN is the award-winning illustrator of dozens of children’s books, including the popular and very funny Pirate Mom. He brings his fresh, kid-friendly style to all the covers of the A to Z Mysteries® series.

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Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series, and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. Pre-order the official script book today. Kindle | Hardcover

Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 510L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (September 23, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679881689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679881681
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.2 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

author spotlight
"I'm totally convinced that I am a writer today because I loved books as a kid."--Ron Roy

Ron Roy is the author of the popular A to Z Mysteries series, as well as the Capital Mysteries series, and several picture books. He lives in Connecticut.


"When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?" I have been asked that question many times since my first book, A Thousand Pails of Water, was published in 1978. Now that I've had so many years to think of an answer, I guess I have to say that at age nine I had an inkling that words were going to be a big part of my life.

When I turned nine, I received for my birthday a wonderful gift--a book. It was about King Arthur and his knights. Even though I vividly remember the shiny blue and red cover and the smell of the new paper, I don't remember the author. But I thank her or him every day of my writing life. That writer stirred up something in me that has been bubbling ever since: a love for reading, and the urgent need to put words down on paper.

In spite of my love for reading, writing as a profession never occurred to me until I became an adult. I worked at an odd variety of jobs before I realized that writing was what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life. Over the years, I waited tables, sold hot dogs, and drove a "Tooth" van from which I taught kids how to brush their teeth and floss. One year I traveled across the world to Hong Kong and taught English to Vietnamese adults. I wrote feature stories for a newspaper and designed letterhead for a printer. One happy summer I worked as a camp counselor.

After two years in the navy and more travel, I landed in the freshman class at the University of Connecticut. Naturally, I majored in English literature. More doors opened for me as I read poetry, novels, essays, and did my share of writing. Still, I did not see myself as a writer. I knew that I enjoyed being around kids, so I became a schoolteacher.

And then, finally, in a fourth-grade classroom, the light bulb in my head flickered on and shone brightly. Its message was, I WANT TO WRITE! In my classroom, I was surrounded by kids and their books. I read those books and fell in love with the characters, the authors, the messages. I was hooked, but I never fought. I allowed myself to be reeled in.

My writing life began one evening after reading parts of Charlotte's Web to my class. Home from teaching, I walked into my apartment, dropped my bookbag, and headed for the typewriter (this was before word processing came along!). I wrote my first story that night and sent it to a book publisher the next day. Four weeks later I received my first rejection slip. But by then, I had written more stories, and they, too, were in the mail, soon to appear on editors' desks around the country.

The rejection slips came in, often flooding my mailbox. But I wrote, and I sent my best work along to a long list of publishing houses. Although more rejection slips arrived with each mail, I never felt rejected. My routine was set, and it didn't change: I taught by day and wrote by night. Each evening found me hunched over the typewriter creating characters, settings, and plots. Most weekends I walked on the beach with a dream in my head and a notebook in my back pocket. From those dreams and notes I wrote story after story.

Four years passed. Dozens of book manuscripts had been written, sent, and rejected. Then the day came when one of those "rejection" envelopes turned out to contain not a rejection but an acceptance. "Dear Mr. Roy . . . We are happy to tell you that we would love to publish your book. . ." Those seventeen words changed my life. I was no longer a schoolteacher who tried to write. I was going to be a published author!

Today, with more than 50 children's books behind me, I can think of no other occupation that would make me as happy. As a writer, I get to do all the things I love most: speak to kids, invent stories, travel, and of course, read. My A to Z Mysteries series sends me to classrooms where I listen to and learn so much from the students. I receive letters from young readers across the globe, and I answer every letter. Many of the letters contain suggestions for new plots, titles, characters. One girl asked if I would use her dog in one of my mysteries. What a great idea, I thought, and invented a canine character for an upcoming book.

Children ask about my writing, but they also want to know about my personal life. "Where do you live?" "Do you have any pets?" "What's your favorite food, color, author, TV show?" I'm happy to tell kids about my life as a writer as well as my life as a person. I live in an old farmhouse in Connecticut. My property consists of three acres of large trees, a barn, and a wonderful chicken coop. Recently, I brought a few chickens to live there, and they have become pets. Like E. B. White (my favorite author!) I love the sound and smell and warmth of animals. But since I travel a lot, I can't fill my barn with critters.

"Where do you get your ideas?" is a question that teachers ask often. "Everywhere," I respond, then I give specifics. Ideas come from reading newspapers and books. Ideas come from TV shows and movies and the news on the radio. I bring ideas back from trips, from church, from the grocery store. The letters I receive from kids are often filled with ideas.

The idea for my first published book evolved from a stroll on the beach. While walking, I came upon an overturned horseshoe crab. With legs frantically waving, the crab tried unsuccessfully to flip over onto its stomach. I uprighted the crab, then watched it scurry into the water and swim away. From that little episode came A Thousand Pails of Water, my picture book about a boy and a beached whale. Not really much of a leap--I saved a crab, the boy in my book saved a whale.

I smile when kids ask me if I write every hour of every day. Some writers do, I suppose, but I find that I need a balance. I spend a goodly number of hours each week actually writing but leave plenty of time for playing with friends, going to the movies and on vacations, and taking naps with my cat. I also work on my house, which seems to require a lot of attention.

In many ways, however, I am "writing" even when doing chores. As I paint my barn, I am thinking of story plots. As I weed my garden, I daydream about new characters. When I nap, I dream about the next mystery in my series . . . and the next.

It's a cycle, really. As a child, I loved to read. Reading led me to writing as a career. I share my books--and thus my love for reading and writing--with children. From them I receive warm feelings and some great ideas.

Now when I write my books, one of my hopes is that I can give back at least a part of the joy I have received.

Happy reading!

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm ecstatic with my recent discovery of Ron Roy's A-to-Z-Mysteries. In the first installment, the Absent Author, we meet the young team of accidental sleuths: the well read and thoughtful Dink (that's Donald David Duncan when his mother means business); neighbor Ruth Rose (who dresses in pink, utilizes keen powers of observation, and initiates the climactic discovery); and best friend Josh (whose appetite, comic relief, and quick thinking rounds out the team). Confronted with the disappearance of their favorite author (Wallis Wallace), the trio assembles clues, follows leads, and eventually unravels the mystery. Early readers will appreciate the young detectives' savvy in piecing together the seemingly complex puzzle. Parents and teachers will notice the author's skillful portrayal of young people's mature interaction with both their peers and a broad spectrum of adult characters. Author Roy lays a clear trail of clues, steadily reinforces key discoveries, and cleanly closes the circle in less than 90 pages (including a fair smattering of helpful black and white drawings). Fortunately, he also sprinkles humor throughout the dialogue that pleases both young and old readers. Parents frustrated by the counter-culture mentality that promotes Rugrats and South Park will appreciate that Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose respect adults (yet know when to question authority), speak clearly, read and think, care about others, and work together to achieve their goals -- it's refreshing for young readers to be exposed to inquisitive, well mannered role models. Try the Absent Author and, while you're at it, pick up the sequel, the Bald Bandit. My son is already clamoring for the Canary Caper, and I doubt we'll be disappointed.
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Format: Paperback
I wanted to get a beginner's chapter book for my almost 6-year-old daughter. I thought about Junie B. Jones or the Magic Tree House series, but I was turned off by Junie's poor grammar (or at least the author's attempt to make her sound like a "real" 6-year-old), and by the Magic Tree House's female character being "dreamy" while her brother was "logical". This book managed to avoid those caveats, while still being an entertaining read for my daughter. I wasn't sure at first if she could follow a chapter book on her own, with illustrations only appearing every 3 pages or so, so I read her the first two chapters last night. This morning, the first thing she reached for was that book. Instead of getting up and watching Saturday morning cartoons, she sat in bed, ate a banana, and finished her new book. I couldn't ask for anything better.
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By A Customer on March 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
This mystery book is about 3 children, Dink, Josh and Ruth Rose, who follow clues to track down a missing famous author. I read this book to my 2 daughters ages 8 and 5. They both loved it. My 5 year old normally has a hard time paying attention to chapter books but SHE was the one begging for "just one more chapter" each night when it was time to put the book down. This morning she asked me if we could start the "B" book tonight!!! My 8 year old packed the book to take with her to school to read herself during DEAR today! I would say it's a hit all around!
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A Kid's Review on April 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books in the series. I think this is the best book. I liked this book because I like mysteries. I like the whole series but this one was the best so far.

If you like mysteries you should read the series.

Michael grade 4
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Format: Kindle Edition
I read a few of Ron Roy's mysteries, ("The Falcon's Feathers", "The Canary Caper"), and was so impressed that I grabbed this first one to see how it all starts and to see if more in the series are as good as that sample. Happy to report that this volume was just as entertaining. It is lighter than the later books on character description, but stronger on the mystery/detection angle.

Roy has three sets of mysteries. The "A to Z" mysteries, (26 volumes for the 26 letters and then three bonus volumes), are for older chapter book readers. The "Calendar" mysteries, (surprise - 12 volumes), are for younger readers and, in a clever twist, feature the younger siblings of the protagonists from the "A to Z" set. The third series features mysteries that take place at various national landmarks in Washington, D.C.

The "A to Z" books showcase an appealing set of characters, fair mystery plots, a bit of action and decent secondary characters. They are like junior versions of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries. They have younger heroes, they are shorter, there are fewer twists and turns, there's a bit less danger, and the mysteries are a bit tamer. But that said, they have the same corresponding strengths. The three heroes, (Josh, Dink and Ruth Rose), play equal roles, with no apparent bias between boys and girls. You never know who will solve the case. There is the same kidding friendship among them. Adults are generally dependable, (when they aren't the villain in disguise). There is a good balance between clue hunting, figuring things out, and being chased and trapped. The mysteries are conventional, but I mean that in a good way - clues are fair, red herrings are fair, and the resolutions are logical.
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