Monday, June 29, 2020

MMGM- Coop Know the Scoop

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 

Souders, Taryn. Coop Knows the Scoop
July 7th 2020 by Sourcebooks Young Readers
E ARC provided by

Coop and his mother live in Windy Bottom, Georgia with his grandfather, who helps them run A Whole Latte Books cafe and bookstore with his friends' Justice and Liberty's parents. Coop's father died while serving in the military, and while the loss is still felt, Coop is glad to have the presence of his grandfather, who served the town as doctor for many years. When a body is unearthed during the building of a new playground, Coop wants to investigate. Even though it could be murder, it's something different and exciting. When the body turns out to be that of his grandmother Tabby, who was thought to leave his grandfather and his father Steven in the late 1970s, things take a different turn, especially when his grandfather is considered as a suspect. With the help of his father's best friend and local constabulary, Tick, Coop is able to talk to local residents to find out a lot of information about his family's past, as well as town secrets that lead to solving this decades old, but personally important, case.
Strengths: This is a text book example of a perfect middle grade novel! It's just 200 pages, which means it is tightly edited and fast paced. It's an actual murder mystery, and the fact that it is a long gone grandmother makes it both highly personal but also not as painful as it could be. There's buy in without horrible raw emotion. I loved the descriptions of the grandmother and her fashions from the 1970s. The turns of phrase were brilliant; I could happily quote half of the brilliant but off the cuff descriptions if I had the finished book. This had a great twist at the end. I thought I knew who the murderer was, and I thought I was right, but then it took a totally different turn! The small town interactions, as well as the cafe/bookstore, make this a perfect cozy mystery (ala Braun's Cat Who mysteries) for the younger set, something I really haven't seen.
Weaknesses: Coop occasionally does some stupid things, and unless I missed something (which is entirely possible), the issue with Beau's father is unresolved.
What I really think: I would love to see a whole series of these, and I'm not usually one for series! Definitely purchasing, and can't wait to hand to students.

Denson, Bryan. Uncovering a Terrorist (FBI Files)
June 23rd 2020 by Roaring Brook Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

In 2010, a Somali born teenager, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, was arrested while attempting to detonate an explosive during a Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. His parents had contacted authorities when they were concerned that their son might try to return to Somalia. Since the parents had left there because of the violence and had made a life for themselves in Oregon, they did not want this to happen. Two undercover operatives Youssef and Hussein, were involved in a sting operation, contacting Mohamud, feeling him out about his intentions, and working with him until the young man tried to set off what he thought was a bomb with a cell phone. He was then arrested, tried, and convicted to thirty years in prison. Agent Ryan Dwyer was the main investigator.

As with this author's Catching a Russian Spy: Agent Les Wiser Jr. and the Case of Aldrich Ames and
Agent Kathy Puckett and the Case of the Unabomber, this is brilliantly well-researched and a very compelling read. I appreciated that it starts out with an explanation that just because one young man who was Muslim got involved in an attempt at terrorism, this was against the tenets of his religion and not a representation of Islamic people. This is reinforced by discussions of Mohamud's family and upbringing. There are excellent notes at the end of the book with more information.

The thing that makes the other two books popular is that they are very black and white. The FBI is good, and the people whom they are pursuing are bad. I felt conflicted about this book. It felt like the agents came perilously close to engaging in entrapment, and the sides of right and wrong didn't feel nearly as clear cut, especially since Mohamud was so young, and his motivations were not as clearly depicted as I would have liked.

Ms. Yingling


  1. Thank you, I've been wondering about Coop Knows the Scoop and you hooked me at "tightly edited." I'm looking forward to reading it.

  2. Coop Knows the Scoop sounds like an excellent mystery novel! Your enthusiasm makes me very intrigued! Uncovering a Terrorist sounds like an interesting story as well. Thanks for the great post!

  3. A book considered the "perfect middle grade novel" sounds like one I need to check out. I've been seeing Coop Knows the Scoop pop up here and there, but until now didn't know much about it.

  4. Thanks for this review of Coop Knows the Scoop. As soon as I read about it, I went to Netgalley and requested it. I am a hardcore fan of cosy mysteries!

  5. I'm excited to learn about Coop Knows the Scoop. I appreciated what you shared about 200-paged middle grade novels being tightly edited and fast paced. I've noticed the recent trend toward 400-paged middle grade books and really have to wonder how long it will hold the attention of your average middle grader. And I loved your comment on my blog about wanting smaller space so as not to become a storage facility. Heehee! Ain't that the truth! But as a family of seven, we've been sharing just one bathing facility all these years, so having more space will definitely be a favorable change while we have so many bodies living here. Having a wonderful reading week, Karen!

  6. My past six MG reads have each been over 320 pages so I welcome one like COOP KNOWS THE SCOOP. Plus, if you say it's perfect I'm all in. Thanks for posting your review on this week's MMGM.

  7. I have a neighbor child who will love Coop Knows the Scoop & I imagine I would too! Thanks for both books, Karen!

  8. You sold me on" Coop Knows the Scoop!" Kids love to solve mysteries -- I know I did -- so this book would have appealed to me. I sure hope it wasn't his grandad. I enjoyed your very insightful review! I know it's good if you're going to purchase it for your kids! You make a compelling case for how the FBI agents handled the mixed-up teen in "Uncovering a Terrorist." I like your comments about how terrorism isn't linked to Muslim beliefs in the other books. Are you going to recommend to you your students?

  9. I haven't had a lot of mystery readers in the last few years, which seems a little odd to me, but this one does sound good. I like them, thanks for the review of both books.

  10. Coop Knows the Scoop sounds terrific. I will definitely be checking it out. Thanks for telling me about it.