Thursday, June 25, 2020

Super Puzzletastic Mysteries

Douglas, Peyton (a.k.a Henderson, Jason!). The Book Man
June 2nd 2020 by Castle Bridge Media
E ARC provided by the author

I don't read a lot of adult novels, but I love Henderson's work (Alex van Helsing, Young Captain Nemo) so much that I was willing to give this a try. It's a fun vacation to California in the 1950s, and has a lot of nods to the beach movies of the day. I have to admit that I got a little confused because of the more adult structure of the book that centered on different characters, but Henderson's writing is still strong. This had all of the humor, action, and great descriptions of his middle grade novels, and had a great sense of humor. I particularly liked Frannie's father, and his reliance on English idioms. Of course, there are also creepy monsters from the deep, a demon who seduces young girls only to have origami birds cut them to death, and surfers (including one called Newpup) who manage to fight the demon with a dybbuk box, a golem, and come medallions! I could practically see this on a a drive-in movie theater screen, in glorious black and white, as I read it.

For $2.99, you'll be able to get a Kindle version of this on June 2, 2020. Definitely a worthy diversion.

Grabenstein, Chris (ed.). Super Puzzletastic Mysteries: Short Stories for Young Sleuths from Mystery Writers of America
June 23rd 2020 by HarperCollins
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Short story collections are hard to review, especially when one includes so many fantastic authors! My students will be glad to see new FunJungle and Riley Mack stories, and skip ahead to the entries by Ponti, Lerangis, and Milford, whom they know well. Alane Ferguson's Forensic Mysteries (2006) are SO popular in my library, and I haven't seen much from her lately, so it was good to have an entry from her. Add Fleur Bradley, Lamar Giles, Bruce Hale, and Tyler Whitesides, along with several authors I really need to investigate now, and this book will fly off the shelf. Short stories collections don't do terribly well in my library, with one notable exception: scary stories and mysteries.

There's a nice mix of types of stories in this. Some area little goofy (like the triplet uncles in Magaziner's Three Brothers, Two Sisters, and One Cup of Poison) and some, like Ferguson's The Scary Place are a little more chilling, but none are super scary. This is mainly because stories incorporate a lot of unlikey clues, and  have the reader trying to figure out the mystery. The answers to which are provided at the back, ala Donald Sobol's Encyclopedia Brown books. I wonder if children will be better at guessing the mysteries than I was. Once you read the solution, it's so obvious, but I don't have much success in solving the mysteries.

This is a great book not only for students, but for teachers who want to do in class read alouds and want to challenge their students' critical thinking skills. Puzzletastic Mysteries will be right at home on a shelf with Half Minute Horrors, Alvin Schwartz, and of course, Encyclopedia Brown.

And yes, I still cry every time I read this note from Mr. Sobol. I used to send author's filled up circulation cards with notes. Along with Carolyn Haywood's B is for Betsy, Sobol's books are one of my earliest book memories. My mother and I would curl up in a rocking chair, read a story, and try to figure out the mystery.

Ms. Yingling


  1. Wow! Donald Sobol wrote you a note AND signed a book for you??!! That's so great.

    1. I also have letters from Erich Segal and John Cheever. Somewhere.