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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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on September 5, 2005
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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on March 7, 2003
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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on March 1, 2011
My son's teacher tells me he reads a grade level ahead--he is an 8 year old second grader, and I try to encourage him as much as I can. The only 'problem' is we are a bunch of readers in my house and my youngest frequently earns the title of 'contrary-boy' as he will specifically choose to do things his own way. I have (multiple times) feared he would balk at reading just to be different. Thankfully, it hasn't gotten that far but he does balk at reading a lot of the books his brother was interested in at the same age (Pokemon--no loss there, Magic Tree House, Boxcar Children etc). On the other hand, he will try some of the books his older brother will read NOW, like the Wimpy Kid books.

In any case, trying to find a book series he will like, that are age appropriate, and he won't ignore because I'm too happy about it can be a challenge. No "hey look honey at the wonderful book isn't it great!!!". More the "eh, a book, I'll just leave it here and maybe you'll like it".

Now, oddly enough, my older son declined reading the A to Z books--I can't remember if they were offered to him too early/too late, or he just didn't like them. I decided to give this one a try and my youngest absolutely adored it and finished it in one sitting. Amazing!!

So, I give this one the "HIGHLY RECOMMENDED" label, with the caveat that all children are different and have different tastes. This one defintely has appeal and is worthwhile, but if your kiddo doesn't like it, well keep trying!

JTG
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon July 17, 2014
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. There are some convenient coincidences, but that's par for the course, especially in a relatively short chapter book. There is a lot of walking around interviewing witnesses, which is unusual for a chapter book but great for a mystery.

In this book we have a missing, (maybe kidnapped?), celebrity author. Who or what dunnit? Why? There are no suspects, and the reason behind the crimes is unclear. Time to question some suspects.These aren't kiddie books and they aren't silly. They treat the young chapter book reader with a lot of respect and I would expect they would be a satisfying read for that youngster. It is particularly remarkable how real these kids feel, especially when they holler to their parents on the way out the door.

I doubt you can ask for much more than that at this level and I could see a kid just eating these up.

Please note that I found this book while browsing the local library's Kindle books, and downloaded it for free. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
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on April 19, 2006
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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on December 14, 2015
I purchased these for my 8 year old niece for her birthday (per her request). They are great for a child that loves to read and wants something a little more challenging/mysterious. She was very happy with these books. They seem to be great quality too. I highly recommend if you have a young reader in your home!
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on March 10, 2011
My son really enjoyed the first story and this one has also been declared a winner. Looks like I'll have 24 more books to buy soon! The reading level seems appropriate without being intimidating--he reads (according to his teacher) a grade level above, and overall is stubborn and has to choose his own thing. I don't know what his official 'lexile' level is (new words for me) but the book is listed at 470.

If you have a child who reads about these levels, and is looking for a fun series that appeals to the picky reader, I would recommend trying this series.

RECOMMENDED

JTG
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on May 20, 2013
This is a kindle book purchase. i have to say i really do like having options on my Kindle for all family members. You just never know when an appointment or trip is going to take longer than planned.
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on February 27, 2015
My son loves these books. Great read for him. He's 8. It holds his attention. He reads it from cover to cover at one time. As a parent it's great to have a child that loves to read. I would recommend this book.
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