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The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour

June 28, 2011

The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour byMichael D. Beil

Yearling (July 13, 2010)

Summary: Take three long time school friends, Sophie, Margaret, and Rebecca, add the new girl at school, Leigh Ann, and insert the curious old woman who lives in the convent next to their school and a perplexing 20 year old birthday card. What do you have? A recipe for a fast paced, fun mystery, ah la Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys…but with a modern twist.

The Good: This book is a true mystery where clues and red herrings abound! The fun thing about the book is that the clues are all solvable using a little bit of math knowledge (and let’s face it, a couple of visits to the internet). I had about as much fun working out the clues as reading the book. This is a fun easy read and if you like the characters, there are more mysteries to be solved.

The Bad: There are red herrings (clues that lead the reader astray), but when the truth was revealed, I couldn’t say that I had a “palm to forehead” moment where I realized that I had missed a clue. The book is pretty predictable and I could definitely make suggestions to give the story a bit more depth. So, verdict: this book is a good lightweight mystery, but don’t expect a huge mental challenge.

The Ugly: My “ugly” is where I usually disclose anything about the book that bothers me or that might make the book unsuitable for a younger audience. As with most mysteries, there is some sneaking around. Kids- don’t go out in the middle of the night without your parent’s permission- ‘kay! Don’t go messing around dark, hidden hallways in your school between classes. That being said, this is a fun book without any real controversial issues.

The Awesome: When I was a tween (not that we used that term), I loved Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Even though the books were easy and predictable, it was fun to get immersed in a mystery. I have noticed that I have trouble finding mysteries when my students ask for them (or maybe it just is not my favorite genre as of late so I don’t gravitate to them). I am glad that this series is available and I think that many students will enjoy it.

Also, the “voice” of this book is very strong and intriguing. I have to say that I couldn’t decide where to put this comment. At times I was a bit annoyed by the author’s choice of words because it got into my head. I could picture students of mine as the narrator (trust me…only the peppiest of you could emulate Sophie). On the other hand, this book is a great example of “voice” and diction (students…remember to pull this one out of you hat when your English teacher tries to explain that elusive topic).

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