Today is Smashie Day! I know I’ve already discussed Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of the Missing Goop a bit, but did you know that it has go-go dancing in? And a wonderful hair goop that lengthens and molds hair into amazing shapes? Both are integral to the third grade Hair Extravaganza and Musicale at the Rebecca Lee Crumpler Elementary School, so when the goop goes missing, all is chaos in Room 11. Luckily, Smashie and her best friend, Dontel, take on the case, even as they choreograph the 60’s go-go dances to take place between the numbers in the musicale. They work hard to solve the mystery until finally, the miscreant is Mashed Potatoed to justice.
I had bunches of fun writing this mystery. Room 11 is one of my favorite classes and I love spending time with those children and documenting their adventures. I particularly feel for Smashie in this book, who is dying to sing in the musicale but is gently directed elsewhere, as her voice is loud but maybe not so wonderful. I relate to this. I am not one of those people who can sing nicely but I love to sing anyway. But my terribleness makes me shy to sing alone in public, and I am glad Smashie is braver than me in this regard. Clearly, I feel this lack of talent on my part very deeply, since I gave Dinah in The Whole Stupid Way We Are a terrible singing voice as well. It hurts, you all. I hope those of you that can sing are properly happy about it. Just know that there are those of us that stare at you with longing and a wee bit of envy.
Here’s what Kirkus had to say about SMcPatMotMG*:
“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)
Kirkus also marked it as an “exemplary book for inclusion”, which makes me very happy, because that’s extremely important to me.
There’s also a Teacher Guide to go with the book. I did the mathy bits myself. Yes, there is some kicky, fun math in the book, and it was very enjoyable to write! I hope those of you who work with kids find it useful.
Here’s the link again to the Smashie page on this website—I hope you enjoy the book! And now for the best bit: there will be a launch at Porter Square books on January 7, 2017 at 3:00 and I’d love to see you there! There will, of course, be cookies.
* Figuring out that acronym took some doing, I don’t mind telling you.