Archive for the ‘Old Favorites’ Category

Review of The Poppy Seed Cakes, by Margery Clark

Friday, June 1st, 2018

The Poppy Seed Cakes

by Margery Clark

with illustrations by Maud and Miska Petersham

Everyman’s Library Children’s Classics, 2013. First published 1924. 157 pages.
Starred Review

Last year I wrote Project 52 – each week reflecting on one year of my life. Which brought back memories. And one of the memories was about which chapter books I read when I was still small, before we moved away from Seattle.

One of those first chapter books was The Poppy Seed Cakes.

I hadn’t read The Poppy Seed Cakes in years. But remembering it made me want to get a copy and hold it in my hands and read it over again. So I looked on Amazon and was delighted to find an Everyman’s Classics edition.

Once the book arrived, I read it immediately. All the pictures and page decorations are there! And I remember every single one and greet them all as old friends. There are many full-page illustrations, alternating between color and black and white. But there are also decorative patterns on each page, with each chapter having its own theme, and the pattern enclosing the text. For example, the chapter “The White Goat,” has a stylized picture of a goat parading across the top of the page. “Erminka and the Crate of Chickens” has chickens across the top, and “The Picnic Basket” has a goose reaching for a picnic basket.

The only thing wrong with this book is its bright yellow cover. I’m pretty sure my grandma’s copy was red. And that’s another thing. I’m not so sure any more that I did read this book from the library in Seattle. But I specifically remember reading it at my grandma’s house in Salem, Oregon – and I think maybe my great-grandmother had a copy as well. (However, that means my mother had read it as a child, so there’s a very good chance she did check it out for me from the library. Which would explain my memory of it as one of the first chapter books I got from the library.)

I am very sad I didn’t think of ordering this book when my own children were small, because I find it’s a book that begs to be read aloud. In fact, I’ll admit that I read some of it aloud even when sitting in my own home all alone. The phrase “Andrewshek’s Auntie Katushka,” which appears over and over just doesn’t want to remain silent in your head.

The stories are old-fashioned and quaint – but do stand the test of time. And the language! First we have stories about Andrewshek and Andrewshek’s Auntie Katushka. Andrewshek’s Auntie Katushka asks him to do something while she is gone – and Andrewshek consistently chooses to do something else – with varying results. Though they usually manage to deal with said results.

Then we have stories about Erminka and her red topped boots. They are her brother’s, and they are too big, so wearing them gets Erminka in trouble more than once.

At the end of the book, the stories come together when Erminka comes for a tea-party at Andrewshek’s house. With poppy seed cakes.

All the animals can talk in this book. Each story is child-sized and matter of fact, and the animals are child-like in their responses. Here’s how the last story ends:

Andrewshek’s Auntie Katushka spread a clean white table cloth on the table under the apple tree in the garden. She brought out two plates of poppy seed cakes and five cups and saucers and five spoons and five napkins. Then she went back into the house to get some strawberry jam.

The white goat and the kitten and the dog and the two chickens came and sat down on the bench beside the table under the apple tree in the garden. They sat very quiet with their hands folded.

“If we behave nicely,” said the white goat, “perhaps Andrewshek’s Auntie Katushka will let us join the tea-party.”

Andrewshek’s Auntie Katushka came out on the porch with a bowl of strawberry jam in her hand. She saw the white goat and the kitten and the dog and the two chickens sitting quiet on the bench, with their hands folded.

“Well! Well!” said Auntie Katushka. “Some more friends have come to our tea-party. I hope they will like poppy seed cakes and strawberry jam, too.”

And they did.

Simple stories and simple concerns, with a happy ending. Though a modern child probably won’t hang out with geese and goats and chickens like Andrewshek and Erminka, they will understand how easy it is to be distracted, the lure of new boots, and the delight of eating poppy seed cakes.

randomhouse.com/everymans

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Boy Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed, by Helen Cooper

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

boy_who_wouldnt_go_to_bed_largeThe Boy Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed

by Helen Cooper

Dial Books for Young Readers, New York, 1997. First published in Great Britain in 1996.
Starred Review

I’m posting a review of this Old Favorite in response to Travis Jonker’s critique on his 100 Scope Notes blog of the current best-selling children’s book, The Rabbit who wants to fall asleep.

You see, I believe that if you want mesmerizing and hypnotic in a children’s bedtime book, you actually don’t have to sacrifice lovely pictures and beautiful, lilting language.

When my son was a toddler, my then-husband brought this book home after one of his trips to England. It was the British version, so the title was The Baby Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed, but all else was the same.

My son couldn’t keep his eyes open when we read this book to him. Before long, he wouldn’t let us read it at bedtime, because he knew full well it would make him fall asleep.

The book starts with the boys mother telling him it’s bedtime. But it’s still light, because it’s summer, and the boy doesn’t want to go to bed.

But the boy revved up his car…
vrrrooom-chugga-chug…
then drove away
as fast as he could,
and the mother couldn’t catch him.

The boy drives into a lavish dreamscape in his little red car, with a determined look on his face.

The boy meets many creatures and things on his journey and asks them to play, but everyone is much, much too tired.

The language is rhythmic and mesmerizing — but definitely not in a boring or didactic way.

He hadn’t driven very far at all
before he met a tiger.
“Let’s play at roaring,”
said the boy.

But the tiger was too tired.
Nighttime is for snoring,
not roaring,”
yawned the tiger.
“Come back in the morning.
I’ll play with you then.”

The pictures have the soft golden light of a long summer sunset.

He sees soldiers too tired to parade any longer. I like the train (with the dreamscape quickly getting darker), and all the toys in the train cars have their eyes closed:

He stopped for a moment
as a train rolled by.
“Race you to the station,” called the boy.

But the train was too tired.
“Nighttime is for resting, not racing,” said the train.
“I’m going home to my depot, and so should you.”

Of course, parents do not need instructions to read all this in a sleepy, tired, drowsy, weary voice.

When he meets musicians, they’re too drowsy to play music for dancing. They suggest that the boy give them a ride home, and they’ll play a lullaby instead.

The musicians played
such a sweet tune
that the sun was lulled
to sleep and the
moon came out.

The boy’s car went slower …
and slower …
and slower …

and soon the musicians were sound asleep.

Then the boy’s car stopped….
It had fallen asleep too.

The boy tries to get help from the moon hanging in the sky, but even the moon is too tired!

“It’s bedtime,”
sighed the moon drowsily.
And even the moon closed her eyes and dozed off.

Soon, the boy is the only one awake, and all the world around him is sleeping.

But there was someone else who was not asleep.
Someone who was looking for the boy …

Someone who was ever so sleepy,
but couldn’t go to bed until the boy did.

It was the mother.
And the boy hugged her.

The picture of the mother holding the boy here is suitable for framing.

The mother trundles and bundles the boy back to bed. With a big yawn, he gives in to sleep. And the last words of the book are:

“Good night.”

One fun thing about the book is that the dreamscape of the boy’s adventures matches the toys and furniture you’ll find in his room.

The language is so lovely, the paintings are magnificently soft and warm and beautiful, and the tired, tired creatures and things will get any little one yawning.

So my suggestion? If you want to hypnotize your child at bedtime, do it with delight. Try The Boy Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed. Put some sleepiness in your voice, and I challenge you to stay awake, let alone your little one.

Because, after all, nighttime is for snoring, not roaring; dreaming, not parading; and resting, not racing. Good night!

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/boy_who_wouldnt_go_to_bed.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Hearing Heart, by Hannah Hurnard

Saturday, August 15th, 2015

hearing_heart_largeHearing Heart

by Hannah Hurnard

Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois, 1986. First published in 1978. 139 pages.
Starred Review

I read and loved all Hannah Hurnard’s books when I was in high school, including this one. This little book was a lovely choice for bringing on my vacation. My usual quiet times include reading bits out of several books — for vacation, I read a chapter each day out of this book.

This book reminds the reader of the importance of walking with God. Long before John Eldredge’s book Walking with God, I read about listening to God’s voice, as God’s people in the Bible did.

The book is autobiographical, outlining Hannah Hurnard’s journey, including missionary work in Palestine before, during, and after World War I. This journey included some steps that looked crazy, but she walked in obedience, and God did amazing things.

Here are some things the author says in her concluding chapter:

It did seem perfectly natural to suppose from the teaching in the Bible and our Lord’s own sayings that all heard his voice in the same way, and that there were not some endowed with a special and mysterious faculty for hearing which was not granted to others. The least child of God can hear in the same way, and be sure that it is the voice of God speaking to him, as any holy man of old, provided he knows and practices the one principle by which the spirit of man can develop a hearing faculty.

Again, this does not mean that we shall ever become infallible or that all our thoughts at all times will be from God. Far from it, especially, of course, at the beginning of our Christian experience. In matters of Christian truth and understanding of the Scriptures, we learn slowly and by stages; a hearing heart, too, may in some cases develop more quickly than a seeing understanding. Every new obedience, however, leads to a fuller understanding, but is always accompanied by an ever-increasing realization that there is infinitely more beyond our present ability to comprehend, and that there is an ever-present danger of becoming self-confident and being dogmatic to others. Nothing deafens a hearing heart more quickly than unwillingness to keep open to further light.

The great principle of the hearing heart is that we become as little children, utterly dependent and always ready to obey. We have to learn to obey his guidance in small personal matters, before we can receive and understand more of his will and purposes.

I like the practicality of this paragraph:

The very fact that spiritual hearing can so easily be confused with imagination is a great safeguard against spiritual pride and ought to develop in us holy cautiousness and humble dependence. But to insist that unusual guidance is only imagination, and that real guidance is really using one’s common sense, did seem to me extraordinary. For most of the guidance which came to me in those early years did not make common sense at all, and generally involved me in the risk of appearing an absolute fool in the eyes of others. Of course, common sense and all one’s intellectual faculties, as well as the experience and wisdom of others, are all part of the wonderful equipment and means by which God does reveal to us his will.

And here’s her final offering to the reader:

So in loving sympathy and understanding with all who long to find a deeper reality in their spiritual life and to know what it is to be drawn into intimate, daily communion and fellowship with the Lord and Savior himself, I would joyfully and humbly share these experiences, praying that he who is so real and so full of understanding love will use them to help others into the radiant happiness of those who can say.

This book offers lovely encouragement to Christians who want to learn to listen to and hear God’s voice.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/hearing_heart.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on my own copy.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Bears on Hemlock Mountain, by Alice Dalgleish

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

bears_on_hemlock_mountain_largeThe Bears on Hemlock Mountain

by Alice Dalgleish
illustrated by Helen Sewell

Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1952.
Starred Review
Newbery Honor Book, 1953
ALA Notable Book

Today I was shifting Juvenile Fiction books in the D’s and I saw this book, and couldn’t resist checking it out. I took it home and read it, having to say the refrain aloud:

THERE are NO BEARS
ON HEMLOCK MOUNTAIN,
NO BEARS AT ALL.
OF COURSE THERE ARE NO BEARS
ON HEMLOCK MOUNTAIN,
NO BEARS, NO BEARS, NO BEARS,
NO BEARS AT ALL.

Of course, the main reason I love this book so much is that I remember my mother reading it to me. I remember all the suspense building as Jonathan’s mother and Jonathan say this refrain to themselves, and everyone is thinking about bears. I remember how the crunch, crunch, crunch of the snow changes to drip, drip, drip, which means Spring is coming, and how Jonathan hopes the bears don’t know it. And then how incredibly scary it is when Jonathan hides under the big iron pot and the bears start scraping in the snow around it.

I also love what I hadn’t remembered – that this is a story of a great big extended family – a little bit like the one I have. When my mother read it to me, we still lived near my grandma, who was good at making cookies, as Jonathan’s mother is in the book.

It’s rather astonishing to me, reading it now, at how well this story holds up 63 years later. About the only thing that couldn’t happen today is that nobody needs to cut wood to keep a fire going for cooking to get done. Oh, and probably Jonathan’s father and uncles wouldn’t come with guns to shoot the bear.

This is a chapter book – but a chapter book short enough to read aloud, as I well remember. The suspense is incredible, if child-sized. Bottom line, it’s the story of an eight-year-old who is now big enough to go over a big hill in the snow all by himself to his aunt’s house – because of course there are no bears on Hemlock Mountain.

And that story will never grow old.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/bears_on_hemlock_mountain.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Fox in Socks, by Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

fox_in_socks_largeFox in Socks

by Dr. Seuss

Beginner Books, 1965. 61 pages.
Starred Review

Today is Dr. Seuss’s birthday. As has become traditional, at the City of Fairfax Regional Library, we held a Seussathon — offering customers the chance to read Dr. Seuss books in the children’s area all day.

As has also become traditional, I started it off with a reading of Fox in Socks.

I thought it would be fun to tell the story of my history with Fox in Socks. It’s special to me, because I can remember when my mother bought it and brought it home. I was so impressed with the words at the beginning: “Take it SLOWLY. This book is DANGEROUS!” In fact, I still read those words with the same inflection my own mom gave them.

I remember I asked her what that meant. I don’t remember her exact answer, but I was very impressed. And I remember her laughing when she made any mistakes. And very dramatically telling me her tongue was numb.

We lived in Kent, Washington, then, and I wasn’t in school yet. I’m pretty sure my little sister was born — so I must have been four years old. (Yes, this was a long time ago!)

Later, I remember *trying* to say things like “quick trick chick stack” and simply not being able to. Also “Six sick chicks tick.” And “Bim’s bends. Ben’s bends.” And the three free fleas. But I always did like Luke Luck and the Tweetle Beetles.

So that’s why I have all my life (minus four years) been extra fond of this book. And then I was a big sister — big sister to ten, actually (and little sister to two) — and got many many opportunities to read to my younger siblings over the years.

Not too long after I moved out and got married, I had my own son, followed by a second six years later. Yes, I made sure to buy a copy of Fox in Socks very early.

Now? Well, thankfully I’m a Children’s Librarian, and I can still give myself a dose of Fox in Socks at least once a year.

And this brings up the value of the book. Okay, there’s not much plot. But you won’t find a better book for building phonological awareness. You definitely notice the smaller sounds in the words, once a child is at least old enough to follow what’s being said. When they are old enough to read, oh my each letter makes a difference!

And you know what? I think there’s still a little Sondy in me who is simply pleased as can be to be able to say those words quickly.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/fox_in_socks.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on my own copy.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Mystery of the Screaming Clock, by Robert Arthur

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

screaming_clock_largeAlfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators in

The Mystery of the Screaming Clock

by Robert Arthur

Random House, New York, 1968. 184 pages.

This is Book 9 in The Three Investigators series. This may be about where my brother stopped letting me read his copy when I was a kid. This Interlibrary Loan process is great!

The Mystery of the Screaming Clock is another puzzle-based mystery. It starts with an alarm clock that, instead of a normal ringing alarm, gives off a piercing scream of a woman in mortal terror.

The clock turned up at the junkyard, and now Jupiter Jones wants to solve the mystery of who would create an alarm clock that screams. They discover a whole room full of screaming clocks made by a man who once did sound effects for an old radio mystery show.

Not surprisingly to the reader, this turns to a mystery involving art theft and an innocent person who needs his name cleared and another boy who gets to take part in the investigation.

The clock has a message glued to the bottom:

Dear Rex:
Ask Imogene.
Ask Gerald.
Ask Martha.
Then act! The result will surprise even you.

Clearly, The Three Investigators need to find Rex, Imogene, Gerald, and Martha. This leads them, eventually, to cryptic clues and a puzzle to solve. But they are not the only ones trying to solve this particular mystery. The story does include the usual mortal peril for some of our heroes. It doesn’t include the rival gang of bullies, and I thought it the better for that omission.

I enjoy the puzzle mysteries in this series, though this one had one part of the clues in a form readers couldn’t possibly figure out themselves. But the story of kids chasing down clues and cleverly solving a mystery with fast-moving action does hold up after almost 50 years.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/screaming_clock.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on an interlibrary loan via Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of The Mystery of the Fiery Eye, by Robert Arthur

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

fiery_eye_largeThe Mystery of the Fiery Eye

by Robert Arthur

Random House, New York, 1984. 164 pages.

This is Number Seven in the series of The Three Investigators. I was terribly disappointed when my interlibrary loan came in and apparently I hadn’t specified that I only wanted the original 1967 edition. However, I’m pretty sure the only change is that Alfred Hitchcock was changed to “Hector Sebastian,” a fictional “detective turned mystery writer” rather than a famous actual movie director.

This is another mystery, full of action and danger. As in many others, two of the Three Investigators get captured at some point in the story. A lot of luck is involved in the successful solution of the case, but there is also some deduction. And, as has become customary (I didn’t even notice this from when I read them as a kid), there is a boy from another country who is in on the investigation. In this case the other country is Great Britain, so at least there are few stereotypical elements in the boy’s personality and way of speaking.

This mystery includes some written clues – thus making it more of a puzzle than some, and also making it a type I particularly enjoy. Though the clues are not quite as clever as those in The Stuttering Parrot, and I thought the whole process of following red herrings had a few too many coincidences. But it’s still a fun puzzle to watch Jupiter Jones work on.

The Mystery of the Fiery Eye is notable in that it finally has a girl make an appearance! Not a very flattering example, but at least this book acknowledges that girls exist! The girl, Liz Logan, is talkative and eager.

“Look, don’t you ever need a girl operative?” Liz was asking eagerly. “I’m sure you must on some of your investigations. There are times when a girl would be a big help. You could call on me. I’m a terrific actress. I can use make-up to disguise myself, and I can change my voice and –“…

Bob took the card and climbed into the truck beside Hans, not even noticing the blue sedan that passed them. He was thinking that Liz seemed like a pretty nice sort, and maybe a girl could help them sometime. It was true Jupiter had little use for girls, but if the right occasion ever arose, he’d suggest they call Liz Logan.

I honestly don’t remember if Liz shows up later or not, but I think I vaguely remember some such thing.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/fiery_eye.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on an interlibrary loan via Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of The Secret of Skeleton Island, by Robert Arthur

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

skeleton_island_largeAlfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators in

The Secret of Skeleton Island

by Robert Arthur
illustrated by Harry Kane

Random House, New York, 1966. 158 pages.

This is Book Six of The Three Investigators series, and the fourth one I’ve read in my current rereading spree. Reading them out of order so far has not mattered a bit.

This one I actually remembered some crucial plot details because they are so cool, actually involving pirate treasure. I will say no more about that.

This book doesn’t have anything at all about the gold-plated Rolls-Royce and Worthington, the chauffeur, but it has plenty of adventure. Right at the start, Alfred Hitchcock sends them off to Skeleton Island, off the southeast coast of the United States, where a company is making a movie at the old amusement park on the island.

But the movie company is having trouble. Pieces of equipment have been stolen, and their boats have been tinkered with at night. What’s more, a legendary ghost has recently been seen riding the old merry-go-round. The girl died long ago when she vowed to finish her ride in a storm, but was then struck by lightning.

One thing I’d forgotten was how many of these books have a stereotypical ethnic character. In this case, it’s Chris Markos, from Greece, a diver who’s trying to find pirate treasure to help his injured father. The townspeople are stereotypical and superstitious as well, easily falling for the ghost story and gossiping intensely and mistrusting Chris, the foreigner.

But the overall story is fun and adventurous. Pirate treasure. Boats. Being marooned. Making a movie. Scuba diving. Lives in danger and a mystery to solve. This was a fun one to revisit.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/skeleton_island.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on an interlibrary loan via Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure, by Robert Arthur

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

vanishing_treasure_largeAlfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators in

The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure

by Robert Arthur
illustrated by Harry Kane

Random House, New York, 1966. 159 pages.

This is Book Five in The Three Investigators series. I’ve decided to post my reviews of the books in order, even though I’m reading them out of order. As I read, I remembered quite a few details from this one, probably because there are some quite bizarre things.

The book begins with Jupiter discussing how he would steal the Rainbow Jewels from a local museum. The three decide to go to the museum on Children’s Day to practice their investigator skills – and while they are there, a valuable Golden Belt is stolen. Their help on that mystery is refused, but then they are asked to help one of Alfred Hitchcock’s friends, who has been seeing gnomes. It’s a bizarre case – little people with fiery red eyes peering in the windows and digging noises at night. We aren’t surprised when the two cases dovetail.

As usual, I am once again amazed at what the boys’ parents let them go off and do on their own! And once again, they get into danger, but the strategic placement of a chalk question mark (and a very clever and memorable placement in this case) gets them out of it. Once again, we have a stereotypical ethnic character – this time a boy from Japan. At least the author is trying to be cross-cultural, though not perhaps in the politically correct way it would be approached today.

Still no girls at all have appeared in these books, but they are still a quick-reading adventure yarn, where kids figure out a case that has adults stumped. I’m having great fun going back in time with these mysteries.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/vanishing_treasure.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on an interlibrary loan borrowed via Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy, by Robert Arthur

Friday, October 24th, 2014

whispering_mummy_largeAlfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators in

The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy

by Robert Arthur
illustrated by Harry Kane

Random House, New York, 1965. 185 pages.

In my rereading of childhood favorites, The Three Investigators series, I’m now on Book 3. The Whispering Mummy isn’t the greatest of the series. The plot seems quite far-fetched, going well into Scooby-Doo territory, with lots of seemingly supernatural occurrences that the reader is pretty sure are going to end up being someone’s evil plot.

Once again, there’s another ethnic group that’s treated essentially as a stereotype, this time a Libyan boy and his uncle. Once again, rival Skinny Norris has a small part to play, but actually I like his part in this book.

Jupiter uses the Ghost-to-Ghost Hookup, asking five friends to ask five friends about something, and thus blanketing the city. Even as a kid, I never believed in the Ghost-to-Ghost Hookup, because it doesn’t take into account that after awhile kids would run out of friends who hadn’t already been called. Kids don’t actually have a large number of social groups, and once most of the kids in their grade at their school are contacted, it doesn’t matter what you ask them to do, they wouldn’t be able to deliver.

But in this case, Skinny finds out about the question being asked and foils their plans. I didn’t mind that, since even though it’s maybe unrealistic the question would have actually gotten to Skinny, at least it shows that Jupiter’s “brilliant” plan doesn’t always work smoothly.

And overall? The book is still lots of fun. Three boys solving a mystery that baffles adults, including dangerous situations and mysterious phenomena and cool equipment (walkie-talkies!). Gleeps! If the plot wasn’t terribly believable, at least it was lots of fun.

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Source: This review is based on a library book gotten by interlibrary loan via Fairfax County Public Library.

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