Adrian Morales @ Teen Town

Today I am going to talk about five Mystery books for young readers. The first three books are chapter books, and two books are a compilation of short stories. If you’re like me, you’re often short on time and can’t get to the library to check out books. Luckily, many books are available as e-books from The El Paso Public Library. I got the OverDrive app for my ipad and was able to download two of these books. You can check out five e-books at a time, and you get thirteen days to read an e-book.

In The Face on the Milk Carton, fifteen year old Jane Johnson is tired of being a plane Jane- she even thinks about changing her name. Her parents are overprotective, and they are not letting her grow up fast enough. Jane can't wait to drive- all her friends are learning to. She's also lactose intolerant, so when she risks taking a sip of her friend Sarah-Charlotte's milk, she's surprised to see a picture of herself as a small girl on the missing-persons photo. Could it be that she is really Jennie Spring, the girl from the milk carton? Are her loving parents really kidnappers? Her mother is always planning activities to bond: knitting, arts & crafts, and cake decorating- trying a little too hard to bond; her father, an accountant, coaches soccer at her school after work. With the help from the boy next door, named Reeve, she journeys to New Jersey to find the truth. This novel is 290 pages of nonstop mystery. As Jane gets closer to the truth she finds herself pulled between emotional and moral extremes: should she call the 1-800 number on these side of the milk carton and turn in her parents or should she be grateful and loyal to them for all their kindness?; should she focus on finding herself or should she let her boyfriend do all the thinking for them both? (Although he has other things in mind); are there any good reasons to take someone from her parents, or does it even matter? (Is it fair for her real parents for her to remain missing, or should she just enjoy her life as it is?).

The Candymakers, by Wendy Mass, is a story about friendship, hidden motivations, troubling memories, growing up and making good and bad choices. Four twelve-year old kids, Logan, Philip, Miles and Daisy compete at the Confectionary Association's annual New Candy Contest for the chance to make and mass-market their own candy creation. Logan is the son of a candymaker, owner of the Life is Sweet Company, which is hosting the contest. Logan has trouble making friends, when he was five years old he suffered arm and facial burns when he reached into a bat of chocolate to retrieve a toy truck. Despite this, he remains a kind person. Philip is the son of a rival chocolate maker, a businessman, is always scribbling in his notebook. His older brother Andrew also had a notebook, and it was a handbook on how to cheat and get your way. Philip is writing his own notebook now, and is planning to win the contest, no matter what. Miles is somewhat of a hypochondriac, he’s allergic to rowboats, bees, pancakes, and the color pink. He’s somewhat traumatized since he saw a girl drown after she was chased by bees and jumped into a lake, and now he’s always thinking about the afterlife. Daisy’s best friend is a horse names Magpie. She is really a spy and is there to steal the secret ingredient. This book is is a long read, 480 pages, but it is told from four different perspectives. Its like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, except here the characters aren’t stereotyped and are more developed, they all have secrets and hidden agendas. Who will win in the end, and will they end up making new friends or new enemies?

The third book, The Trouble With Chickens: a J.J. Tully mystery, is a humorous mystery about a recently retired rescue dog: Jonathan Joseph Tully, or J.J. for short. J.J. is an investigator, and has been around long enough to know that not all rescue missions end with a rescue. He lives out in the countryside with his trainer and is ready to relax when one day a hysterical chicken named Millicent visits him to try to get his help in rescuing her two chick-napped daughters. J.J. has a sarcastic sense of humor, he calls her Moosh just to annoy her.  He decides to help her and follows the scent trail to the ranch farm, where Vince the Funnel, an evil wiener dog, is keeping the two chicks. He wants to frame J.J. for the chick-napping to have him removed from the farm. He tricks him into a cage, where he is destined to go to the vet to get an even bigger collar put around his neck. Will he escape?

After reading three long books, I wanted to read short stories instead. 

The book Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales is a collection of short stories told from the perspective of the villain. A boy who runs away from home goes to work for an evil wizard and finds that he is treated better than at home. A witch switches places with a princess and discovers that she doesn’t hold a grudge. An elf named Rumpelstiltskin invented raised bread, cooking, perfume. He has only one bad habit, he easts human babies. He must help a princess spin straw into gold to save herself from prison, but will she give him her baby in return? Many of these stories you may have read in Grimm’s Fairytales, but here they are told from a different perspective and you have bit more insight into the inner workings of each villainous character and their reasons for acting the way that they did.

I see weird stuff in my neighborhood all the time: I once saw a car flip over in front of my house; one time I saw a priest carrying a large crucifix, at three o’clock in the morning (he looked like a ghost!). In Tales from Outer Suburbia strange things happen all the time. A man wearing a diving suit visits the next door neighbor, a mean old woman who keeps all the footballs, soccer balls and freebees that land in her yard- and when she discovers who the man is she suddenly becomes a nice person. A family discovers a hidden courtyard in their ceiling, full of trees and frescoes (wall paintings). What happens to all the poems people write, the ones they don’t want anyone to read? They fly away and gather into a big ball, and one day are swept into the sky and rain down on everyone. In this neighborhood everyone has a missile in their yards, which they decorate. What lies outside of suburbia? Two brothers go on an expedition and find the edge of the world- they hang their feet over the ledge. Beautifully illustrated, this book is strange and transports you into another world. 

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