Posts Tagged ‘mysteries’

Local Girl Missing – intriguing adult fiction for a change!

Posted on July 25th, 2017 by Carolyn Hart

Local Girl Missing by Claire DouglasLocal Girl Missing writting by Claire Douglas
Adult fiction published by Harper Collins

It is almost six years to the day since I wrote about adult fiction! These days, my volunteer work absorbs so much time and energy, I rarely take the time to write reviews of the books I make time to read.

I do want to let you know about Local Girl Missing. It was exactly the sort of book that I was ready to discover. Interesting characters and a good mystery kept me awake late and guessing right til the end.

Sophie disappeared off a dilapidated pier nearly twenty years ago under mysterious circumstances. When human remains wash up on a local beach, it seems almost impossible that they could belong to Sophie. The fact that the remains are in a trainer (track shoe), could mean that they could be identified as belonging to her and the family will be able to experience some closure.

In light of the gruesome discovery, Sophie’s brother Daniel convinces Frankie to spend a week in their hometown, investigating Sophie’s disappearance with him. Visiting old friends and locations and being near to the decrepit pier is, at times, alarming and creepy for Frankie.

Ms Douglas skillfully intertwines Sophie’s thoughts and experiences with those of Frankie by alternating the chapters. The book begins with Frankie’s thoughts in February 2016. The next chapter is set in 1997 and is narrated by Sophie.

Well-paced and intriguing, Local Girl Missing is the sort of book I really enjoy. Entertaining and suspenseful, it kept me guessing until the pieces came together and the mystery was solved.

Let me know about your favorite escapes! This is a book that reminded me of the pleasures of reading. Thank you to Harper Collins for providing me with the proof copy.

Local Girl Missing at Amazon.com

Local Girl Missing at Amazon.ca


Score with this Young Adult Mystery: Breakaway by Michael Betcherman

Posted on August 20th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts writes about young adult mystery: Breakaway by Michael BetchermanBreakaway written by Michael Betcherman
Young adult mystery published by Razorbill an imprint of Penguin Canada



Read our interview with Michael Betcherman

Those of you who visit our website regularly will know that I am a mother to two teenage boys and that one of my sons is a hockey player. Very often friends will comment about the challenges of encouraging teenage boys to read. We’ve been fortunate with our boys, they both enjoy reading and are good readers. Unfortunately, for some kids, it is not so easy. I often wonder if some reluctant readers simply have not found a book that matches their interests.

Last month, while on holiday, I had an opportunity to read Michael Betcherman’s first mystery novel: Breakaway. It was a finalist for the 2013 John Spray Mystery Award.

Set in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Breakaway tells the story of a 16 year old Midget hockey player whose father is wrongly convicted of murder. Nick Macklin’s dad (a former professional hockey player) has been convicted for killing another former NHL player who once viciously cross-checked him in the head. and ended his playing career.

Nick is devastated by his father’s conviction and is determined to uncover the truth but it is not an easy job. Nick’s anger and disappointment with his dad’s conviction results in problems at school, the loss of good friends and his involvement with minor hockey.

He remembered something his mother once told him. “Tragedy is part of life. It’s going to happen whether you like it or not. The trick in life is get as much joy as you can.” As long as dad was in jail, tragedy would be part of his life.

Bit by bit, as time passes, Nick begins to recover from the shock of his dad’s conviction. He starts to focus more on his schoolwork, he becomes more social and he resumes playing hockey but his obsession with investigating the crime and finding the murderer does not falter.

Young adults, especially those who play hockey will enjoy Breakaway’s hockey theme. The book references NHL, WHL and minor hockey teams, rinks and the dynamics of playing a sport at high level. At the heart, this is a story of loyalty and determination as Nick Macklin remains steadfast in his determination to uncover the truth.

Recommended for youth aged 14 and up.

Note: This book has been published with two different covers. The cover shown above is the American cover. This photo features the Canadian cover (adjacent to a rather nice pool).Breakaway by Michael Betcherman poolside

Breakaway at Amazon.com

Breakaway at Amazon.ca



I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen – A Surprisingly Dark Picture Book

Posted on November 29th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts looks at I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen - A Surprisingly Dark Picture BookI Want My Hat Back written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
Picture book published by Candlewick Press



Poor Bear, he has lost his pointy, red hat. He searches the forest, politely asking, “Have you seen my hat?” He meets Fox, Frog, Rabbit, Turtle, and Snake. None has seen his hat. Bear is bereft and despondent. He frets that his hat is gone forever.

When Deer finally asks, “What does your hat look like?” Bear remembers something important.

Picture book, I Want My Hat Back is a breath of fresh air with a hint of mystery and a touch of revenge.

Best suited to older readers, adults and children (aged five and up) will thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to “read between the lines” and enjoy Klassen’s gallows humor.

Would I read it to a group of three year olds? “Maybe not.” Would I read it to a group of jaded six year olds who think they know all there is to know about picture books? “You betcha!”

Storytime kit from Candlewick Press – includes I Want My Hat Back activities.

I Want My Hat Back at Amazon.com

I Want My Hat Back at Amazon.ca


Also check out my comments about Jon Klassen’s Cat’s Night Out


Mysteries, Humor and School Life for Reluctant Readers

Posted on October 26th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Chapter Books for Reluctant Readers: Mysteries, Humor, and School Life




Almost every time I make a Parent Ed presentation, someone asks for recommendations for the preteen crowd. Sometimes the request is very specific, “My daughter loves skating. Could you suggest a chapter book she might like?” Very often the request is for something, anything that a reluctant reader will enjoy. Lately, I’ve been kept busy by Ready Set, Learn presentations. I’ve not had much time for reading. When the calendar is full to the brim, I often turn to short chapter books, looking for a new gem that will appeal to young readers.

Here are some of the books I’ve been reading…

Storytime Standouts reviews The Clue at the Bottom of the LakeThe Clue At The Bottom Of The Lake written by Kristiana Gregory
Chapter book series for grade two/three readers published by Scholastic



Let’s begin with The Clue At The Bottom Of The Lake (Cabin Creek Mysteries). This is the second book in the new Cabin Creek Mysteries series. Appropriate for seven to ten year olds, it has a grade 3 Reading Level. I enjoyed the book and am confident that this is a series both boys and girls will enjoy. Set in a small, lakeside town, we follow three cousins as they investigate the dumping of a large and mysterious bundle into the lake near Lost Island. Young detectives will enjoy the twists and turns as Claire, David and Jeff work to discover the contents of the bundle and who is responsible for dumping it in ‘their’ lake.

The Clue at the Bottom of the Lake (Cabin Creek Mysteries) at Amazon.com

The Clue at the Bottom of the Lake (Cabin Creek Mysteries) at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts reviews Sir Gadabout Out of TimeSir Gadabout Out of Time written by Martyn Beardsley
Chapter book series for grade two/three readers published by Orion Children’s Books




Sir Gadabout is the ‘Worst Knight in the World.’ A creation of Martyn Beardsley, the series is illustrated by Tony Ross so we know that we are in for some fun. In Sir Gadabout Out of Time, disaster strikes when King Arthur allows Sir Gadabout to cut his hair. Before long, Merlin is enlisted to turn back time. Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly) the spell goes wrong and Sir Gadabout finds himself in a futuristic world with cell phones and cars. Good fun for nine to twelve year olds.

Sir Gadabout Out of Time at Amazon.com

Sir Gadabout Out of Time at Amazon.ca


Storytime Standouts reviews Ivan the TerribleIvan the Terrible written by Anne Fine
Chapter book series for grade two/three readers published by Egmont Books Ltd


Poor Boris, he is in a real ‘pickle.’ He’s been asked to be a ‘chum’ and translate for a new classmate. They both speak Russian and Boris is asked to help the new boy adjust to life at St. Edmund’s, the civilized school. Before long, Boris realizes that Ivan is really quite nasty and the job of translating is going to be trickier than he had expected. A fine choice for nine to twelve year olds,
Ivan the Terrible won the silver medal in the 2007 Nestlé Children’s Book awards.

Ivan the Terrible at Amazon.com

Ivan the Terrible at Amazon.ca

Visit our page about reluctant readers for more information. You will find our posts about chapter book series here.

Grade Two Chapter Books – Why Nate is Really Great

Posted on August 28th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

When looking for a special grade two chapter book, you can’t go wrong with Nate the Great

Storytime Standouts Looks at a Grade Two Chapter Book Series – Why Nate is Really GreatNate the Great written by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and illustrated by Marc Simont
Published by Yearling





Nate likes pancakes and syrup almost as much as he enjoys solving a perplexing mystery. Nate and his canine sidekick, Sludge, are called upon to solve all sorts of cases; locating lost paintings, disappearing dogs and, in one case, a missing key.

With an appearance that is often reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, Nate is all business – except if pancakes are on the menu. Along with Annie and Rosamond, our hero cracks each case with solid detective work.

Nate the Great is a series that has been delighting young readers for more than thirty years. Suitable for children who are reading at about a grade two level, some of the stories are divided into chapters. Generously illustrated, the text is perfect for young readers who are ready to take on a meatier story (than typically found in easy readers).

Series like these are great because beginning readers often decide they want to read every single one of the Nate the Great books. This is just what we want, a child who is motivated to read by fun stories and a delightful cast of characters.

Nate the Great at Random House includes printable activities plus author information.

TeacherVision Nate the Great summarizing activity

Nate the Great at Amazon.com

Nate the Great at Amazon.ca



Emergent Readers Captivated by Drama and Mystery

Posted on August 24th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


A fun book series for beginning readers: Read at Home

Check out this series for emergent readers

I spent a fair amount of time in a dentist’s chair today and was reflecting on my recent experience with a grade one student. I’ve been working with him for a while. His older brothers have had some difficulty with reading so I spend half an hour, once a week with this youngster. Yesterday he read from the Oxford University Press Read at Home series. He is familiar with these books and knows the characters; Floppy, Chip, Kipper and Biff.

During our session, I suggested he try one of the Level 4 stories. He eagerly selected, Trapped! text by Cynthia Rider, illustrations by Alex Brychta. It was delightful to hear him read confidently but what was even more special was his reaction to the book. Clearly, he saw this story as different from others he has read independently. There was more text – about three sentences per page. There were letters and hidden keys to locate within the illustrations. But, most surprising, there was drama – when Grandma was briefly trapped in a castle – and mystery – why was there face at the castle window?

My emergent reader was thrilled to read Trapped – he likened it to the kind of books his older brothers read. He felt competent, confident and intrigued. If only all books for young readers could replicate this winning combination.

The Oxford University Press Read at Home series is excellent from beginning to end and includes dozens of great titles for emergent readers.

Read at Home: More Level 4c: Trapped! at Amazon.com

Read at Home: More Level 4c Trapped! at Amazon.ca

Read at Home: Level 4, Pack of 6 at Amazon.ca

What is your favorite series for readers at this level? Please share your ideas and suggestions.


Highlighting Young Adult Fiction: Paper Towns by John Green

Posted on March 18th, 2011 by Teen contributor

Storytime Standouts' teen contributor writes about Paper Towns by John GreenPaper Towns by John Green
Young Adult Fiction published by Dutton Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.





Quentin Jacobsen has spent his life loving the adventurous Margo Roth Spieglman from afar. So when she cracks open his window and summons him for an all night campaign of revenge- he follows. The next day, at school Q discovers that Margo, always an enigma, has become a mystery. But there are clues, and they’re for him. urged down the disconnected path, the closer he gets the less he sees the girl he thought he knew…

This was the first of John Green‘s books that I have read and I am very impressed. The story is intriguing and well crafted, the characters interesting. Paper Towns involves the reader, you will find yourself puzzling at night as you try to unravel the mystery for yourself. And you will be laughing frequently for John Green writes with brilliant wit.

Paper Towns is Young Adult fiction that can be enjoyed by almost everyone. I defiantly recommend it as one of my favourites.

Anthony Award Nominee for Best Children’s/Young Adult Novel (2009)
Corine – International Book Prize for Young Adult Novel (2010)
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2008)
Edgar Award for Best Young Adult (2009)
YALSA Teens’ Top Ten (Young Adult Library Services, American Library Association) (2009)

Paper Towns at Amazon.com

Paper Towns at Amazon.ca

More News

Learn to Read Printables, Games and Activities for Parents and Teachers

Fireflies A Writer’s Notebook by Coleen Murtagh Paratore

Fireflies A Writer’s Notebook by Coleen Murtagh Paratore

Fireflies A Writer's Notebook by Coleen Murtagh Paratore Journal for writers ...

Loving books can be contagious – Reading Power by Adrienne Gear

It's no secret that we are impacted by the thoughts ...

Jody Discovers Story People by Brian Andreas

On a trip through an airport, Jody discovers the work ...

Phonemic Awareness

Bolstering Phonemic Awareness, Getting Ready to Read While in the Car

Bolstering Phonemic Awareness, Getting Ready to Read While in the Car

Some of the keys to learning to read are noticing ...

Developing Phonemic Awareness: How’s Your Nose, Rose?

You won't regret using wordplay to support your child's phonemic ...

Phonemic Awareness – Questions for Your Child (2)

The focus of our last few posts has been phonemic ...

Terrific Chapter Books for Middle Grades and Teens

Wrapping up the year… 2014 best books for middle grades

Wrapping up the year… 2014 best books for middle grades

I always say this but I can't believe it's the ...

Good Things Come In Threes; The Ascendance Trilogy

This isn't a scientific fact but it is a completely ...

Ways to Help Children Learn the Alphabet

Awake Beautiful Child by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia Lam

Awake Beautiful Child by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia Lam

Awake Beautiful Child written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia ...

Classic Picture Book: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom written by Bill Martin Jr. and ...

Make-Your-Own Alphabet Recognition Learning Game for Preschool

Help Kids learn letters of the alphabet with this fun ...

Translate »