Friday, April 23, 2010

The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett (ages 8 - 10)

Did you grow up on the Hardy Boys? Do you love sharing mysteries and adventures with your kids? Look no further, but go right out and snag a copy of The Brixton Brothers: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity. Mac Barnett's new series is full of chases, excitement and mysteries that only Steve Brixton, the intrepid kid-detective, can solve. This was great as an audiobook, and will hook families with its wit and adventure.

The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity
by Mac Barnett
with illustrations by Adam Rex
NY: Simon & Schuster, 2009
audiobook by Listening Library, 2010
ages 8 - 10
available on Amazon and your local library
Twelve-year-old Steve Brixton loves mysteries, but his favorite book of all time is The Bailey Brothers' Detective Handbook. You see, Steve would like to be a detective when he grows up, and the Bailey Brothers are his ultimate role model. One Friday, Steve's teacher assigns a research report (due Monday! how unfair!) and gives Steve the unthinkable topic: early American needlework. Depressed at his bad luck, Steve goes to his local library to check out a book for his project. But just as he's checking out his library's only book on historical quilts and ninjas descend upon him from the skylights. Steve is terrified and perplexed.

As the ninjas are combing the library for him, Steve does what any good detective would do: escapes. But he lands right in the hands of the Librarian Secret Agents. Suddenly everyone (including his mom's cop boyfriend) is treating Steve like a criminal. If he can't find out who's behind the missing quilt, he'll be tried for treason! Throughout the novel, when Steve gets into a jam, he'd think what would Brixton Brothers do?

The audio production fits the dry wit of Barnett's writing perfectly. Arte Johnson's voice helps create the 1950s throw-back vibe, reminding me of voice-overs from kid detective TV programs or documentaries. This would make good family listening, pulling in kids in 2nd through 4th grade. Listen to an excerpt here:

Barnett's writing is witty, funny and engaging. There is some great action as well, which will go over well with kids who want to get a vision in their heads of what's happening. I especially loved the chase scene in the library, depicted on the cover.

For other great reviews, see:
TheHappyNappyBookseller: "I loved this book. ...The cover tells a reader everything they need to know about this book. There's action and danger - the men dropping into the library. There's a mystery to be solved - the magnifying glass and the fingerprint."
The Book Aunt: "Barnett manages to make this story, not only smart, but funny, and without trying too hard. The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity is tongue-in-cheek all the way. I should note that Barnett doesn't simply satirize the Hardy Boys by setting Steve Brixton up against grim reality; he stylizes the characters around Steve, having them act a little like the players in a Hardy Boys mystery—just enough to be funny."
Pink Me: "Joined now by this first book in what I hope will be a long long long (think Hardy Boys, Barnett - hope you're not doing anything for the next ten or twelve years) series of detective novels starring preteen everyman Steve Brixton and his honorary brother and actual best friend, Dana. WITTY. This book. Wit to the Tee."

The audiobook review copy was kindly sent by the publisher. If you make a purchase on Amazon through the links on this site, a small percentage will go to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

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