Author: Michael Beil| Website
Publication Date: April 14th, 2009
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
My Interest:Secret Detective Life
Age Group | Genre: MG | Mystery, Contemporary, Realism, Humor,
As I perused the shelves of my local library shortly after the first of the year, I thought to myself—-it needs to be a year of mystery. (After all, Ally Carter’s new Heist Society novel comes out this year, and I just downloaded Double Crossed!) I think mystery is what I’ve been craving. My summer of Nancy Drew made such a lasting impression on my literature life that I think it’s about time I reread Nancy, and fall in love with some other super sleuths.
And The Red Blazer girls were exactly the mystery I needed.
I checked out a copy of The Red Blazer Girls from my local library. . I was not compensated in any way for my review (cross my heart) nor did I promise a good rating. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine.
Sophie, Rebecca, and Margaret are three ordinary seventh graders just excited to have finally earned their Red Blazer school uniforms. That is until Sophie sees a ghost in the middle of English class.
Turns out, though, it’s just the weird lady who lives across the street–and she has something up her sleeve for the girls.
Sent out on a scavenger hunt for the daughter of the lady they don’t really know (that goes for the daughter, too) the Red Blazer girls follow a trail of codes, clues, and math puzzles only to end up hiding under communion tables, crawling into statue nooks, and perusing the old classics.
Throw in a boy to complicate things, as well as the new girl Leigh Ann, and this is one mixed-up mystery full of adventure and mayhem.
I’m going to come out and say it right away–this is definitely more of a middle grade novel than YA, and I LOVED it!
Where, oh where, to start? How about plot wise because I found this one fabulous! The Red Blazer Girls #1 definitely has one of those mysterious plots that keeps the reader guessing. Not only that, but it’s a mystery that makes the reader think! Beil weaves in codes, classic literature nods, and mathematical problems that the girls have to solve in order to find the next clue and figure out the mystery. To make the story super fun, Beil often waits a few pages or chapters to give the answer so readers have time to solve each clue on their own. I think that’s why I have always loved mysteries because when I figure out the clues I feel smart. Beil’s plot isn’t so intricate that readers will just want to give up and quit reading, but instead push themselves to figure out the question so it leads them to the end. Besides, if they are paying pretty close attention, they’ll pick up clues pretty easily. I love a book that pushes intellect and leaves readers with so much more than a story.
As for characters, the girls are fabulous! They have all the snarkiness, naivety, and swoon-worthyness of seventh grade girls. (Let’s just say when the boy gets involved, they become the teenage girl I still am!) Not only do I find their personalities (and dialogue) realistic, but I love how Beil infused such a strong intellect in each character. Sophie, Margaret, Rebecca, and even Leigh Ann have smarts and talents in different areas, but each contributes to the solving of the mystery, and I love how without just one of the girls’ individual talents and mind, nothing would have been accomplished.
Overall, I thought The Red Blazers Girls: The Ring of Rocamandour was a really fun read. If there’s a girl you know who is a fan of Harriet or Nancy, then you have to introduce her to this series. Every once in awhile I did find the writing to be a little less sophisticated than some of the books I’m used too, but it’s perfect for the middle grade level. And like any wonderful middle grade novel, this one is full of humor. Be prepared for puns because this is definitely a punny read.
If you like this novel, you might like….
Gallagher Girl Series by Ally Carter
Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer
[for ratings system, please check out my Bookshelf]