Key Hunters: The Mysterious Moonstone
Scholastic, 2016 111 pages
Key Hunters series #1
After their beloved school librarian goes missing Cleo and Evan just can't seem to warm up to her replacement, Ms. Crowley. While tracking Ms. Crowley's strange behavior one day in the library, Evan and Cleo follow her to a mysterious clue, which leads to a deceptive book, which serves as the key to a secret room below the library. Within the secret room are more books and a letter from their favorite missing librarian. She instructs them to find her by exploring the books in the room and searching for a key, which will lead to the next clue. Before the new adventurers know it, they have entered The Case of the Mysterious Moonstone, a mystery straight out of the world of Sherlock Holmes. They must assist rookie detective Artie Baker from the London Police as he investigates the disappearance of a very valuable jewel from the home of Colonel Musgrave. The three detectives get to work following the clues and interviewing suspects, who range from a suspicious butler, to family members, to finally, the cook, who turns out to be none other than Ms. Crowley. Artie, Cleo and Evan do indeed solve the mystery and all seems well. An envelope containing a hidden key sends Cleo and Evan back to the library, where Ms. Crowley awaits. Was it all a dream? Another envelope confirms that it was not and sets the stage for the next mission as a means to an end of locating their favorite librarian.
Key Hunters is a fun new mystery series perfect for children starting chapter books. More mystery than fantasy, each adventure takes the kids into a book with a specific genre--or different place and time, tapping into the magic tree house crowd. Other tales explored include a ghost story, high fantasy involving wizards, a spy story, and an adventure on the Titanic. The author is training children to read mysteries. Many characters are offered, all of whom appear suspicious. Red herrings are offered and adventurous senerios lead the children to finding the clues. It reads a bit like a Scooby Doo story and the accompanying illustrations further project this vibe, which will make the reader comfortable and find the story enjoyable. The final solution to the mystery was not too easy and requires thinking on the part of the reader. It is a delicious moment when you figure out a mystery and this story will be sure to hook readers onto the genre. One full page comic-like illustration is included in every chapter. The margins are wide, the chapters are short, the print is large attracting developing readers and the inclusion of both a boy and girl character will expand the book's readership. By offering an umbrella mystery (the search for the missing librarian) readers will be further encouraged to grab the next volume in the series. A slam dunk for the intended audience.