CURIOUS CASE OF A VANISHING FOOTBALL
Jug Valley Mysteries, Book 3
by Anne Digby
Middle Grade Mystery
Retrieving a battered old football for its frantic young owner, Charlie Smith, hardly presents a difficult challenge for Hands to handle - or so they think. In fact, the case of a football that seems to have vanished from the face of the earth will take all their detective skills to resolve - and it's far more important than they ever dreamt.
With wholesome fun, this book dives into a fun mystery which is sure to make sleuth hearts beat a little faster.
Charlie accidentally kicks a ball during recess over the fence. Unfortunately, as a bus kid, he's unable to retrieve it. Luckily, Amy and her friend Mini volunteer, but when they enter the yard, the ball is nowhere to be found!
This is the third book in the Jug Valley Mysteries series, but by no means do the other books have to be read first. Although it's better to get to know the characters (and how the wonderful Hands & Spouts club was formed), this can be read as a stand alone.
The three siblings, Amy, Tim and Harry, and their friends are thrown into an unexpected mystery. The situations starts as something almost every kid can relate to and quickly builds from there. The situations, reactions and decisions remain pretty realistic, despite the unexpected twists and turns. The clues are laid out nicely, but still hold enough secrets to make the end a treat.
As always, the three siblings and their friends hold together well. Even little two-year-old Harry, who can be a pain to the older twins at times, proves his worth. This book (and entire series) is like a fresh breeze, offering a wholesome setting and characters. Problems happen, but the club works through them as best they can.
This is a read which will not only excite young mystery fans, but is great for families and home-schoolers as well.
Can they build up a picture of the intruder?
Jug Valley Mysteries, Book 4
by Anne Digby
Middle Grade Mystery
When a classmate, Esme Kirk, thinks she sees a shadow at an upstairs window of her old home, she's so upset that she asks the five friends in Hands to keep an eye on the house for her. After all, it's supposed to be empty now it's up for sale. At first Hands wonder if Esme imagined it but soon find they have a case that will need all their detective skills.
Unexpected surprises await in this book as the young sleuths refuse to let go of a mystery and dive in.
Esme, a girl next door to the Hands & Spouts headquarters, is not in a good place. Her mother passed away, and her father, who has barely managed to keep the house, decides to pursue a new job overseas. If the move wasn't enough, Esme sees a shadow in her house. Despite ridicule, The Hands & Spouts are on the case, and they discover more than anyone would have ever guessed.
This is the fourth book in the series and as thrilling as the first. It can be read as a stand-alone, although it is a treat to follow the sleuths the entire way through.
Unlike the other books, this one takes a deeper dive not only into solving a mystery but in exploring the troubles Esme has with moving and coming to terms with difficult life changes. And these are topics handled with wonderful finesse. Gentle suspense glides between the emotional struggles, ones that many kids will sympathize with. The mystery lures in, keeping the pages turning while Esme's problems are never pushed to the side. It's a lovely balance which makes it an engaging read.
The mystery itself offers a very unsuspected surprise at the end, and it's not one easily achieved. The kids from Hands & Spouts not only have to find and work out the clues, but must hold their own and continue forward, although others are telling them not to.
This is an excellent read for mystery lovers, especially those who enjoy a more traditional, family read. And at only 70 some pages, it's great for even those more reluctant word fans.