Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Revelation of Louisa May and Club CSI

22675335MacColl, Michaela. The Revelation of Louisa May
April 14th 2015 by Chronicle Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Louisa May Alcott's family is being torn apart for three months- her mother is taking a job to increase the family finances, since her charismatic but selfish and irresponsible father won't bother himself about money. Louisa is not happy that she will have to take care of her father and sister when she could be writing, but she knows how dire the situation is. She does not know the full extent of the family's involvement in the Underground Railroad, but when an escaped slave shows up at the house right before her mother leaves, she is put in charge of him, too. Luckily, there is some fun to be had-- Fred, a boy who lived in the area but went away to college, is back and interested in Louisa, even though she is intelligent and opinionated and more likely to burn dinner than not. Given her father's oblivion to reality, Louisa has her work cut out for her hiding the fugitive, especially when slave catcher Finch shows up, asking too many questions. When Finch shows up dead, and suspicion is thrown on her father, it is up to Louisa to clear his  name.
Strengths: This was a good story about a girl trying to take care of her family. Since there is a little romance involved as well as a mystery, this might be an easier sell than many historical novels. It would be great if they would read this book and then pick up Little Women, which is a really, really hard sell to middle school readers.
Weaknesses: It would help to have some background information on Alcott-- Whelan's Fruitlands would help younger readers a lot. I was a bit bored by the relationship between Henry David Thoreau and the wife of Emerson, so I think teens might not like that part as much.
What I really think: I'm a HUGE Alcott fan (my daughter's middle name is Louisa!), and I enjoyed reading this. I think I will buy a copy in the hopes that it will entice readers to look at Alcott's work. I liked this a lot more than the author's other works.

12632823Lewman, David. The Case of the Mystery Meatloaf (Club CSI #1)
April 24th 2012 by Simon Spotlight

When they get a new science teacher who is interested in forensics, Hannah, Ben and Corey are thrilled with Miss Hodges' class, since the curriculum is changed to accommodate her speciality. They learn about different techniques of investigating, but have no mystery to use them on until the meatloaf incident that sickens people in their school cafeteria. Miss Hodges is concerned that the food that Mrs. Collins prepares isn't healthy enough, and offers some suggestions, as well as a recipe for vegetarian meatloaf. Reluctantly, Mrs. Collins prepared it. After the principal and swim team come down with what appears to be salmonella poisoning, Club CSI investigates. It doesn't help that Mrs. Collins' son, Ricky, is the school bully and doesn't take kindly to his mother being held under scrutiny, but using the techniques learned in Miss Hodges' class, the group solves the mystery.
Strengths: Decent plot, good detection techniques, great cover-- I can see this being appealing to middle grade readers, especially since it is a series. However...
Weaknesses: Not a lot happens. The mystery is kind of weak. Also, there are large problems with some of what occurs-- a school can't change its curriculum to forensics because they hire a teacher who is interested in it, and I don't think the cook would be buying groceries at local stores. Does Ricky have a study hall right after lunch and that's why he can help his mother? These small things make the book seem like it was written in the 1960s, when these things might have been possible.
What I really think: I bought the first one, but want to see how it does before investing in more. (Went over very well, and seems to be a quick read, as I've had about three students pick it up in a month AND ask for more. Okay then!)

List from

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 69 ratings — published 2012 — 5 editions book 1

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 29 ratings — published 2012 — 4 editions book 2

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 19 ratings — published 2012 — 4 editions book 3

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29 avg rating — 17 ratings — published 2012 — 4 editions book 4

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 8 ratings — published 2013 — 4 editions book 5

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 6 ratings — published 2013 — 4 editions book 6

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all the reviews you do. I don't know how you can read so much. More power to you! I think I'll check out the book about Louisa May Alcott. It sounds good.