FICTION

Super Puzzletastic ­Mysteries: Short Stories for Young Sleuths from Mystery Writers of America

HarperCollins/Harper. Jun. 2020. 384p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062884206.
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Gr 3-6–This collection of 20 short mysteries offers a variety of puzzling capers by a range of authors. The solutions to the stories are found in the back of the book. From stolen fundraising money to kidnapped squirrel monkeys to magical misdirection, each narrative presents a unique opportunity to practice deduction and problem-solving skills before the tale’s conclusion. Some stories offer humor, like Grabenstein’s own “Snow Devils” and Steve Hockensmith’s “Possum-Man and Janet,” while others supply clues as varied as crossword puzzles (Lara Cassidy’s “The Red Envelope”), ciphers (Gigi Pandian’s “The Haunted Typewriter”), and magic squares (“Puzzling it Out” by Eileen Rendahl). Some of the puzzles are trickier than others, but the common theme across all entries is the importance of keeping an open mind and teamwork. Indeed, as Grabenstein suggests in his introduction, each story is short enough to make for a fun classroom read-aloud, presumably followed by a collaborative attempt to solve the mystery.
VERDICT An engaging addition to a school library collection, especially one where middle grade mysteries, puzzles, and mind teasers are in high demand.

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