Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Ninja Listens to. . .The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour by Michael D. Beil

Sophie, Margaret, Rebecca, and Leigh Ann are 7th graders at St. Veronica's Catholic School in Manhattan. During Mr. Eliot's English class one day, Sophie screams when she sees something in the window of the church next door. Never one to miss a dramatic moment, Sophie, Margaret, and Rebecca sneak through the church to discover the kind but eccentric Ms. Harriman, who desperately needs the girls' help. Ms. Harriman has recently found a birthday card left in an book over 20 years ago. The card contains a clue to begin a scavenger hunt for a priceless treasure hidden away by Ms. Harriman's long-deceased father, a famous archaeologist. The birthday card was meant for Ms. Harriman's daughter, Caroline, but since the two have not been on speaking terms for years and years Ms. Harriman needs the girls' help to find the treasure. But that's not the only mystery to be solved:

Will the girls be able to sneak around in the church without getting caught?
Is Ms. Harriman just eccentric, or kind of looney?
Is Leigh Ann really going out with Raff?
Will Rebecca have to leave St. Veronica's for good?
What's up that tweedy, cane-wielding Mr. Malcolm Chance anyway?
Has Winifred actually been spying on the girls?
Will Sophie ever just get over herself and tell Raff that she likes him???

The audio version of this book is phenomenal! Tai Alexandra Ricci, the incredible reader, does such a great job. She knew she how to phrase Sophie's narration of the story just right. Sophie's character is known for being a bit dramatic about things, and Ms. Ricci did such a wonderful job that I found myself continually laughing. I also love how she did Ms. Harriman's voice. I can't wait to listen to more audiobooks read by Ms. Ricci.

Here's one of the best things about The Red Blazer Girls: you can actually solve the mystery along with the characters. If you pay close attention, author Michael D. Beil gives you actual clues that you can solve. I love it! I didn't solve all of them, but the ones I did made me so excited that I just couldn't stop reading (er, listening). The chapter titles are also really brilliant and often hilarious (example: In which Wile E. Coyote and Balto fight to the death. Well, not really, but wouldn't that be cool?).

Please give this book (especially the audio version) a chance! Melodramatic sophie, super-smart Margaret, artsy Rebecca, and the beautiful and kind Leigh Ann will make you laugh and have you rooting for them to solve the mystery of the Ring of Rocamadour.

This books is on the 2010 Lone Star Reading List.

If you want more mystery, try these titles:

Down the Rabbit Hole
by Peter Abrahams

The London Eye Mystery
by Siobahn Dowd

Chasing Vermeer
by Blue Balliett

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