Thursday, December 12, 2019


A rollicking cat detective solving a mystery while managing to get in naps and plenty of snacks is one of the most engaging characters I’ve discovered recently. 

RA THE MIGHTY CAT DETECTIVE by A.B. Greenfield, illustrated by Sarah Horne, Holiday House, 2018

Set in ancient Egypt, this action packed tale is peopled with sulkers and skulkers, members of the Pharaoh’s royal extended family whose motives are not so royal. Or maybe they are. I guess it depends upon whose opinion you seek. 

If you ask Miu, another cat, no one is playing fair. Miu seeks Ra’s help when a treasured amulet goes missing and a child servant could lose her life because of this dastardly deed. Miu insists the young girl, who has gone into hiding, is innocent. The dung beetle that whispers sage advice into Ra’s ear (although Ra wouldn’t admit that the beetle is sage), joins with Miu to convince Ra that because he is a mighty cat detective he must find the jewel and save the girl.

Illustrator Sarah Horne has created ominous looking adults to roam among these pages. The reader will shiver while rooting for the mighty detectives. I use the plural because by the end of the story, there are more than one. Ra discovers a willingness to share glory, although maybe not his snacks.

Author A. B. Greenfield
didn’t stop with only one book featuring the mighty Ra. #2: RA THE MIGHTY, THE GREAT TOMB ROBBERY is available now and #3: RA THE MIGHTY, THE CROCODILE CAPER, is coming out in 2020. 

This book is marked as 4th grade reading level, but reading it to a first grader or second grader gives an adult a chance to enjoy it, too. Third graders will figure it out and advance their reading skills at the same time. 

All will enjoy saying aloud names like Nefrubity and Yuyu. I leave it to you to research their roles in the royal palace.

Friday, October 25, 2019


A scary book could soften the parental explanation that the resident pre-teen is too old to dress up and ring the neighbors’ door bells for trick or treat this year. Or worse, the almost grown-up is still not quite old enough to look out for younger siblings as they travel door to door. You might hint a little that you've found a book with spooky neighbors and some undead folk in the woods.

Note: a scary book lasts longer than candy and doesn’t get tangled up in braces.

THE HAUNTED SERPENT by Dora M. Mitchell, Sterling Children’s Books, 2018

Spaulding Meriwether has a problem every middle school student will recognize and I’m not talking about being the new student at Thedgeroot Middle School. Spaulding is the son of questionable (questionable? Is that a hint of more to come?) television ghost hunters, and no, I’m not talking about that either.  Spaulding is weird. What middle school student thinks he might be weird and tries to hide it? Or is already thought to be weird by the rest of the school? Does the student talk to dead people? Yes. That kind of weird. And yes, there is a haunted serpent. Why else would the book have such an enticing title?

During the Halloween ghosting season, this tale could keep your Halloween helper from answering the doorbell when the smallest gremlins pay a call. 

Author Dora Mitchell is a writer, illustrator, and children’s librarian living in Quincy, a small northern CA mining town that was built during the Gold Rush. Her web site is pretty spooky, too.

Hillview School Library