By Ron Roy, Illustrated by John Steven Gurney
Published by: Random House Books for Young Readers (December 22, 2015)
Available in: paperback, library binding, Kindle, NOOK
At the time of this review there were eight books in this series as well as 26 books in the original A to Z alphabet series.
It’s a mystery….
Actually, there’s no mystery why the A to Z Mysteries, in their first rendition of 26 alphabet-inspired books, and now under the guise of Super Editions, are so popular. Kids love mysteries, they love series, and this gives them a heaping dose of both.
The most recent of the A to Z Mysteries Super Edition books, Secret Admirer entices kids’ intrigue even before chapter one. The first page tells the reader to look for hidden letters within the illustrations and map, and challenges them to find the secret message. Who can resist that? The answer is given at the back of the book, so no frustrations if a child can’t decipher the message.
Author Roy, perhaps one of the most prolific in contemporary children’s literature, also writes both Capital Mysteries and Calendar Mysteries series. So if kids like these books, there’s more to be had from him.
Do I love these books? Not really. I find too many characters right at the start, and the writing is a little lazy. To wit, this paragraph, where originality and engaging descriptions take a back seat to just getting it done: “The kids reached the hotel and shoved open the thick glass door. Inside it was warm and smelled good.” I also find the illustrations serviceable but without pop or pizzazz.
Do I respect these books? Absolutely. The author and publisher give kids a lot of what they need at this point in their reading life: the thrilling intrigue of the mystery, characters they can follow from book to book, and the comfort of easy reading within the challenge of a full book. The fact that author Roy is successful at producing so much work is truly impressive and inspiring.
What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….