Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser. Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth, Book 1. New York: Harper, 2012. 124 pages.
This is a fun chapter book for mystery-minded little ones, particularly little girls, and especially those who like the Fancy Nancy series. If you’re not familiar, it’s about a little girl (I’d place her at about 7 or so) who likes…fancy stuff. In this book, she and her friend Bree are private detectives. It’s pretty cute, particularly since Nancy’s incredibly genre-savvy–she’s a big fan of Nancy Drew, and knows a few things about how crimes are supposed to be solved.
In this first of what is hopefully many Super Sleuth books, Nancy and Bree work on solving two mysteries, both of which it is completely credible that a pair of little girls would be solving. The writing style is easy enough for adults, but maybe a bit challenging for early readers, with words like “obstinate” and “exasperating” (and that’s just on one page). But as long as you don’t mind stopping every now and then to explain a word, you’ll be fine. And that’s how vocabulary grows, isn’t it?
I actually enjoyed reading this with Prima, who really got into it. I was able to correctly solve the mystery about 1/3 of the way through the book, but that probably means the author has it right: if an adult with decades of reading mysteries is legitimately baffled by the caper, imagine how confused a five year-old would be.
The art by Robin Preiss Glasser goes a long way towards keeping young readers engaged. In general, it’s a fun read for parents and, apparently, an absorbing one for kids. Tip: keep the flour out of reach, or you might find them “dusting for fingerprints” as they try to solve mysteries on their own.