MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS
Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of The Missing Goop
When the third-graders of Room 11 learn that they all must take part in a musicale, Smashie can’t wait to sing something heartfelt and loud. But the others are not so eager.
Luckily, Charlene’s mom has agreed to donate her special gel that lengthens and sculpts hair into shapes (from a musical note to a roller skate), and soon, with the help of some retro sixties go-go dancing, all the kids are raring to go. That is, until their jars of goop go missing! Who would steal their beloved Herr Goop, and why? Time for Smashie and her best friend, Dontel, to get out their Investigation Notebooks! Discussions of motives and perps, hasty mis-accusations and apology brownies, a math lesson used to crack a mysterious code, and more than a few choice red herrings build up to a truly hilarious madcap finale. Starring a quirky and relatable heroine, a level-headed sidekick, and an appealing group of good kids, this entertaining and lighthearted mystery may well have readers donning their own Investigator Suits. Click here to download the Common Core teachers’ guide for Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of The Missing Goop
Third-grade sleuths Smashie McPerter and Dontel Marquise are back.Having found classroom pet Patches in Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11 (2015), the best friends step up again when a classmate’s delicious-smelling “lengthening and molding” hair goop goes missing, threatening the success of the Third-Grade Hair Extravaganza and Musicale. Who could be taking the few precious jars of Herr Goop? Smashie, a white girl who tends to get carried away, and Dontel, a black boy who tends not to, consider motive and opportunity and work to solve the mystery even as the third-graders practice and they themselves choreograph go-go dances to be staged between each act. Griffin concocts a baroque plot involving a secret code credibly based on third-grade math and tells it with SAT-level vocabulary. She contextualizes that vocabulary carefully, sequencing sentences to prepare readers for it. Kids who understand how hard it is for Smashie and Dontel “to join a line of children who were all mad at them” will see how the “frostiness” might be “palpable.” Even if Smashie and her pals don’t talk like 8-year-olds, though, they behave like them, getting carried away with endearing earnestness. Griffin also subtly attacks stereotypes with her multiethnic group of hugely likable kids. Dontel’s dad is a dentist, and a Latina student’s mom is a patent attorney—a fact that also figures into the plot. Readers will be hoping for an equally savvy Book 3. (Mystery. 7-10)
exemplary book for inclusion.
The story is paced well, and the plot is strong enough to intrigue a variety of readers…the series offers positive lessons and activities that teachers and librarians can incorporate in the classroom. The use of mathematical codes and investigative lingo and the slight mystery will make this a good book for a beginning-of-the-year read-aloud in a third or fourth grade classroom.
School Library Journal
Classroom dynamics and a diverse cast add a realistic element to this fast-paced tale of go-go dancing, rapid bilingual alphabetization, and general mayhem.
Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11
Who stole the hamster from Room 11? A once-happy class is set on edge in this humorous, highly relatable mystery perfect for middle-grade readers.
The day the hamster disappears from Smashie McPerter’s class begins like any other. Well, except for the fact that the teacher is out sick and Smashie’s class is stuck with Mr. Carper, the worst substitute in the world. And except for the mysterious business with the glue. And except for the fact that Smashie is wrestling with a terrible problem, which only partly stems from her extreme aversion to hamster feet. As the peaceable and productive days of Room 11 turn into paranoia-fueled chaos, as natural suspects produce natural alibis and motives remain unmotivated, Smashie and her best friend, Dontel, are forced to the limits of their parlor-room detecting to set things right.
Griffin writes a consistently smart book, layering subplots and red herrings on her central mystery and unapologetically using $20 vocabulary. She carefully provides context clues that will help her young middle-grade audience understand challenging words, introducing Smashie’s discomfort at ‘the weight of [her classmates’] unjust censure’ with the crystalline observation that they ‘were angrier at her than ever!’ A singularly appealing group of kids populates this nifty mystery for readers ready for a challenge.
Griffin uses humor to tackle issues most children grapple with at some point, and Hindley’s loose b&w sketches play up the madcap energy at Rebecca Lee Crumpler Elementary School. Smashie’s … positive energy and determination are impressive. Readers will be learning and laughing heartily as Smashie dons her ‘Investigator Suit’ and uses ‘thinking power’ to try to prove herself.
The story is well written and evenly paced, with great supporting characters to root both for and against. … A gentle and humorous mystery for younger middle grade readers.
School Library Journal
Readers will have fun going with Smashie’s flow–her custom-made outfits (‘Investigation Suit,’ ‘Distracting-Adults-from-Messes Suit’), shaky logic (‘A little soft creature should have little soft feet!’), wrongheaded accusations, and triumphant redemption. Black-and-white illustrations throughout display Smashie’s individuality and verve.
The Horn Book
N. Griffin’s charming book, SMASHIE McPERTER AND THE MYSTERY OF ROOM 11, solidly combines a day in the life of a normal third grader with some kid-level, hard-boiled sleuthing. Accompanied by a collection of illustrations by Kate Hindley, this book balances itself as an adorable and wonderfully character-driven story.